UH softball bent on showing foes no mercy
BY Stephen Tsai
"Eight" is the key number on the Hawai'i softball team's hit list.
In amassing a 22-11 nonleague record, the Rainbow Wahine have won 10 games that were abbreviated because of the NCAA's eight-run mercy rule.
"We always strive for the eight-run rule," said coach Bob Coolen, whose Rainbows rank 22nd nationally with 6.18 runs per game. "I'm not going to lie to you. That's our goal every game. That's it. I'm going for the knockout. If it weren't in the rule book, I wouldn't go for it. But when they say there's an eight-run rule that stops the game right there, we strive for that. That's what we talked about in the beginning. Once they stop making that a rule, it's score as many as you can."
But it probably will be more difficult to produce runs in bunches during the Western Athletic Conference season, which begins this weekend. The Rainbows host San Jose State at 6 p.m. tomorrow. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday, beginning at 4 p.m. There is no admission charge for the games at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
Coolen expects the Spartans, as well as other WAC teams, to "pitch around. They won't give us those mistake pitches we've been crushing."
That is because there is a greater familiarity when league members meet.
In recent games, Coolen has tried to incorporate more play-for-one-run tactics, such as bunts and hit-and-run plays. But he does not plan to abandon the Rainbows' swing-for-the-fences approach. The Rainbows are fourth nationally with 1.91 home runs per game (63 in 33 games).
The power begins at the top of the lineup.
At 5 feet 3, with a left-handed swing, center fielder Kelly Majam appears to fit the profile of a slap hitter. Instead, the second-year freshman has pounded 15 homers, fifth most among Division I hitters.
"It's better to hit a home run than just a single," Majam said.
Majam traces her power source to full-bodied strength culled from hours of weight training.
"I'm not very big," she said. "A lot of people swing with just their arms. I have to swing from my feet all the way up. Lifting a lot helps a lot."
The Rainbows have had disciplined practices this week. The Spartans, after all, average 6.23 runs per game.
"We're not going to cruise in the WAC," Coolen said. "We have to go into the WAC with an incredible work ethic to be prepared for every team. It's going to be a dog-eat-dog world. San Jose State is very good."