Superstitious dad does his part as Wahine win
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
Mel Yoshikawa is a superstitious guy, so when his daughter, Traci, walked up to the plate in the top of the seventh inning at yesterday's Women's College World Series, he repeated what he did earlier in the game when Rainbow Wahine Alex Aguirre hit a home run, hoping his daughter would repeat that feat.
Traci Yoshikawa hit a two-run home run to lift Hawai'i to a 3-2 victory over Missouri in the opener of the Series in Oklahoma City. The Wahine play UCLA today in the winners' bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Mel Yoshikawa, his wife, Lillian, son Landon, 18, and mother-in-law Doris Yoshida are in Oklahoma to cheer on Traci at the Wahine's first appearance in the College World Series. All or parts of the family have traveled with the team since the WAC tournament in Las Cruces, N.M., May 12 to 15.
In the second inning of yesterday's game, Mel Yoshikawa said he had gone up to the concession stand to get a soft drink when Aguirre hit a solo home run. So when his daughter approached the plate with her team down 2-1 in the top of the final scheduled inning, Yoshikawa said he didn't want to jinx his daughter.
"I was kind of superstitious because earlier in the game when Alex hit a home run, I was up getting a soda and walking back, so I thought maybe I gotta go back up and change the luck. I stayed upstairs and (Traci) hit the home run," he laughed. "After she hit the ball I ran down, kind of celebrated a little, and I walked back up for the bottom of the seventh and watched the end of the game up there."
Whether Yoshikawa will spend the entire game today against UCLA near the concession stand is in question, but he said there's no doubt that he and the 60 or so others from the Islands will be there to cheer on the Wahine.
"The whole family is proud of her," he said of his daughter, a senior.
156 HOME RUNS
Jason and Joycelyn Iwata traveled from Līhu'e with son Shane to watch freshman Jessica Iwata play in the World Series. Jason Iwata said he was "kind of worried" when the Wahine entered the final inning down a run.
But as the team did in the Super Regional against Alabama Sunday when the Wahine won on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning by Jenna Rodriguez, Iwata said he knew his daughter's team had a chance.
"Everybody in the lineup can hit," he said. "If one's down, another will pick up."
The Wahine have an NCAA-record 156 home runs this season.
Iwata said the trip is placing a financial burden on the family, but he didn't want to miss this "once-in-a-life-time" event. A firefighter at the airport on Kaua'i, Iwata said he's grateful to his supervisor for allowing him to switch days off to be at the Series.
"As soon as we won at Alabama, my boss asked me, 'How many days do you need off?' " Iwata said.
He said the Hawai'i boosters were hosted at a happy hour by the UH Athletics Department after yesterday's game and said they are enjoying their stay in Oklahoma City.
He said the players also are having the time of their lives and appear more relaxed than the parents.
"I couldn't sleep last night," Jason Iwata said. "Most of the fathers here can't sleep at night waiting for the game to start."
UH athletics superbooster Don Murphy grew up in Oklahoma City and traveled there to visit with family and also to root for the Wahine. The owner of Murphy's Bar and Grill said he had his doubts when the Wahine came to bat in the last inning.
But sitting next to him was UH Athletics Director Jim Donovan, who assured his buddy not to worry.
"I thought, boy, this is really gonna take something. I looked at him and he said, 'Don't forget Alabama,' and sure enough, she bangs a two-run homer," Murphy said.