'Bows' magical run comes to end Best team I have ever been apart of
By Mike Griffith
Special to The Advertiser
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Women's College World Series bid "Aloha" to Hawai'i last night.
The Rainbow Wahine's first-ever WCWS appearance ended at the hands of eight-time national champion Arizona, 5-1, before a record crowd of 9,080 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Hawai'i coach Bob Coolen ends his magical 19th season at the helm having seen this 50-16 team set school records for runs scored, RBIs, doubles, walks, hits, and of course, home runs.
"I want to thank this team for taking me on a journey of a lifetime," Coolen said. "It was an incredible run we had this year and an unbelievable 28 days on the road."
The Rainbow Wahine, who departed Hawai'i on May 10 for the WAC Tournament and haven't been home since, hit 158 home runs to smash the previous NCAA record (134), set by Arizona last year. Freshman Kelly Majam led the nation with 30 home runs.
Hawai'i senior Traci Yoshikawa struck the final big blow for the Rainbow Wahine this season, as her 235-foot home run tied the score at 1-1 in the third inning.
It was but one of two hits No. 16 seed Hawai'i managed against the 10th-seeded Wildcats (50-12) and their fire-balling freshman pitcher, Kenzie Fowler (36-7). Fowler, who pitched a complete game in a 4-3 victory over third-seeded Washington earlier yesterday, fanned 13 batters.
"I just knew I had to hit my spots," Fowler said. "Hawai'i is a great team, and if you miss your spot, they'll put it out like (Yoshikawa) did."
Coolen said he believed the fatigue from the thousands of miles of travel finally took its toll on the Rainbow Wahine, who eliminated Stanford in NCAA Regional action, and No. 1 seed Alabama in Super Regionals to qualify for the WCWS.
"We just ran out of gas," Coolen said. "We just couldn't catch up."
Yoshikawa, who broke down in tears in the post-game press conference, collected herself long enough to discuss the home run and thank the Hawai'i fans.
"I had been studying (Fowler), and she was going inside, and that's where I've been struggling from, so I looked for it and she put it there," Yoshikawa said. "The fans here and home were great; we know they've been supporting us 100 percent and it's good to represent Hawai'i. We gave it our all."
More than 100 Hawai'i fans in attendance gave the team a standing ovation after the game. Many other fans in the stands wore green, as the Hawai'i T-shirts were the first to sell out at the souvenir stands.
Sophomore Alex Aguirre described the season as "life-changing" for the players, and like Yoshikawa, she was in tears after the loss.
"When you have a team that is as close as we are, it really shows on the field, and the chemistry we had brings out the best in each other," Aguirre said. "It's been a wild ride, and we're all sorry to see it end."
Arizona opened the scoring in the first after Brittany Lastrapes led off the game with a bunt single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored when pitcher Stephanie Ricketts (30-10) threw wild to first on K'Lee Arredondo's bunt.
Hawai'i tied the game at 1-1 when Yoshikawa took a 2-1 offering deep over the wall in left-center in the top of the third inning.
The Wildcats reclaimed the lead with two runs in the third, the first coming when Arredondo drove a shot into left that went off the glove of a diving Aguirre with runners on second and third. Stacie Chambers followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 3-1.
Arizona added two runs in the fourth inning, chasing Ricketts in the process, as Lauren Schutzler ripped a bases-loaded shot that second baseman Dara Pagaduan couldn't handle, making it 5-1.
Pagaduan entered the game when starting shortstop Jessica Iwata injured her leg making a play in the second inning. Yoshikawa, who started at second base, moved to shortstop.
Freshman Kaia Parnaby gave Hawai'i 2 1/3 innings of no-hit relief, fanning five while walking one.
"I've shed a lot of tears to this point — today, I won't shed any more," Coolen said. "This was a great season I will never forget."