Rainbows fall, 2-1
By Stephen Tsai
A butterflies-free freshman pitcher short-circuited Hawai'i's power offense in pitching McNeese State to a 2-1 softball victory last night in the Paradise Classic.
"We thought we would have a lineup that would be able to generate some runs, and that didn't happen," UH coach Bob Coolen said of the season-opener. "Power outage. Deer in the headlights .Whatever you want to call it."
The Rainbow Wahine had no answer against right-hander Meagan Bond, who mixed a riser and biting curveball.
"Those were my two go-to pitches," said Bond, who allowed five hits and struck out 11. She relinquished three walks.
From the start of the drizzly game, home plate umpire Tim Baier set the strike zone high and narrow.
That worked well for Bond, who turned even the Rainbows' best swings into flyouts, but not so for UH's Stephanie Ricketts.
"Their pitcher took it to us," Coolen said. "They were getting calls up high, and they were staying up high. And we just weren't ready for a pitcher who throws high. We don't have a riseball pitcher. We're not going to emulate that. We were getting caught inside. We weren't getting it done."
Ricketts, meanwhile, struggled with her aim once one of her best pitches — the curve — was deemed ineffective by the narrow strike zone. She issued a career-high seven walks, and threw first-pitch balls to 18 of 32 batters.
"I needed to adjust quicker than I did," Ricketts said.
All of which would have mattered little except for the Rainbows' costly mistakes.
McNeese's Claire Terracina opened the game with a single, then advanced to second on Lindsey Langner's sacrifice.
Then Molly Guidry hit a sharp grounder than skipped past shortstop Jessica Iwata, and then eluded left-fielder Jenna Rodriguez. Terracina easily scored.
Although the softball was slickened by the wet turf, Rodriguez conceded, "I should have had it no matter what because I've been practicing on this field all fall season."
In the top of the fourth, McNeese first baseman Heather Mosser reached on a fielder's choice.
With two outs, third baseman Dani Price hit a towering fly to left field. Rodriguez broke to her left, then pirouetted to her right. The ball bounced against the fence in left field. Price sprinted around without a throw to the plate.
Rodriguez refused to blame the lights, which made it difficult to pick up the ball's flight, or the wind.
"She just turned herself around and didn't play the wind," Coolen said. "We go over drills like that all of the time."
Most disappointing, Coolen said, was the communication breakdown in which the Rainbows did not make a play at the plate.
"They were yelling, but they were yelling to themselves," Coolen said. "They weren't yelling to each other."
The Rainbows managed a run in the fourth on catcher Katie Grimes' RBI ground single.
But Bond gained strength — and confidence — as the game progressed. She struck out four in the final two innings.
"We struggled with her riseball," Rodriguez said. "It's OK. Now we've seen it. We're able to practice it, and now we know what to work on in practice."