Shakeup adds punch to lineup
BY Stephen Tsai
The Hawai'i softball team returns to its home field tonight with a new lineup and renewed outlook.
After a 5-1 start to open a recent two-week trip, the Rainbow Wahine finished with a 6-4 road record, prompting some key changes.
Two slumping hitters — second baseman Dara Pagaduan (.077) and designated player Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu (.132) — have been replaced. Traci Yoshikawa (.308) has moved from shortstop to second, and Jenna Rodriguez (.318), who started the year in left field, is now the designated player.
Alex Aguirre (.314, three homers in 13 games) is the left fielder, and Jessica Iwata (.290, three homers) is the shortstop.
UH head coach Bob Coolen said playing Aguirre side-by-side with center fielder Kelly Majam gives the Rainbows a speedy outfielder.
Majam, a second-year freshman who missed last season because of a knee injury, has emerged as the Rainbows' best player. She is batting a team-high .489 with six homers, and also has hit four doubles and the Rainbows' only triple.
Coolen also has redefined the pitching staff. Entering the season, sophomore Stephanie Ricketts was regarded as the ace. Kaia Parnaby, a freshman left-hander from Australia, was expected to be a complementary pitcher.
But Parnaby has established herself as a dependable pitcher. She is 5-3, completing seven of eight starts, with a 2.37 earned-run average and 58 strikeouts — double Ricketts' total. Ricketts is 3-3 with a 3.45 ERA.
Coolen said Ricketts will start against Seattle tonight in the opener of the Bank of Hawai'i Invitational at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m.
Parnaby will start in tomorrow's 4 p.m. game against East Carolina. Coolen said he has not decided on a starter for tomorrow's 6 p.m. game against Washington, the nation's top-ranked team.
"We'll see what happens," said Coolen, who is not opposed to having Parnaby pitch "back-to-back" games.
Coolen said he is hopeful that Ricketts, who appeared to be pressing on the last leg of the road trip — a combined five earned runs and seven walks in 6[0xb7] innings the past two games — will be more at ease pitching at home.
Coolen said Parnaby has earned the chance to pitch significant innings.
"She never pitched for us in the fall, except in practice, and she wasn't overly impressive (then)," Coolen said. "Now we know she's not a practice player."
Coolen said Parnaby is effective in games, relying on a screwball, curve and riser.
"She has a presence on the mound," Coolen said.