HPU bounces back to claim West regional
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Hawai'i Pacific University softball team made the most of a second chance yesterday.
After losing just its seventh game of the season in the morning — a 3-2 setback to Central Washington — the Sea Warriors and starting pitcher Sherise Musquiz redeemed themselves in the afternoon rematch.
Musquiz scattered six hits and batterymate Nicole Morrow drove in the lone run in the winner-take-all final as HPU advanced to the Super Regionals with a 1-0 victory. It was the final game of the NCAA Division II West Regional that was held since Friday at HPU's Howard A. Okita Field in Kāne'ohe.
"This is a pretty amazing feeling," said Musquiz, who pitched 16 innings in the two games yesterday. "Especially after we came out flat in the first game, I really wanted to redeem myself."
Sea Warriors coach Bryan Nakasone said yesterday's games were indicative of playoff softball.
"The second game was a pitcher's duel and actually both games were the way a championship game should be played," Nakasone said. "We were fortunate to come out of it. Our defense really stepped up for us because offensively we just couldn't generate many runs. We weren't getting any timely hits."
HPU, the No. 3 ranked team in the nation by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, was designated as the visiting team in the afternoon game.
After Ciera Senas lined out to center field to start the game, Casey Sugihara walked. Designated player Maile Kim singled to center, with Sugihara stopping at second. Morrow then lined a single to left field to score Sugihara.
"It was good to get ahead of them," said Morrow, a freshman catcher. "After losing to them in the first game, it gave us a boost to come out hitting ... we really needed that."
Nakasone praised Morrow and the progress she has made this season.
"She came straight out of high school and at first I don't think she was used to the speed of the college game," Nakasone said. "The first thing I told her was, 'Don't take a backseat to anyone.' She's been working really hard, playing well defensively and her bat has come around. She's come a long way, to the point where we have a mutual trust in each other."
Central Washington put runners on second base in the first and third innings, but couldn't capitalize.
The Wildcats also threatened in the sixth inning. No. 2 batter Keilani Cruz singled to right field to lead off. After a fly ball to right field for the first out, clean-up hitter Kelsey Haupert singled back up the middle. Ashley Fix put down a sacrifice bunt, moving Cruz to third and Haupert to second.
Meghan Kopczynski worked the count full before drawing a walk. However, as Kopczynski jogged toward first, Cruz was caught off third by Morrow, who fired to third baseman Caira Pires. Pires chased Cruz down the line before throwing back to Morrow, who tagged the diving Cruz in front of the plate. The Wildcats left seven runners on base for the game, including two in that inning.
"I wish I knew what happened," Central Washington coach Gary Frederick said. "I think that (Cruz) thought that the bases were loaded — but, like I told our players — that play didn't lose the ball game for us. HPU made great plays and we didn't, so it's hard to point to any one play or player as the reason why we didn't win."
Central Washington's Jennifer Schwartz hit a one-out single in the seventh, but was erased on a fielder's choice at second base for the second out. Musquiz then recorded her third strikeout, stranding the potential tying run at first and sealing the win for the Sea Warriors (44-7).
It was the fourth meeting between the teams this season, with each team winning twice. Musquiz improved to 28-2 on the year, while CWU's Lauren Hadenfield fell to 24-6.
The Wildcats (40-14), champions of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, played without their top player in outfielder Danielle Monson. The senior suffered a fracture to the ulna bone in her left forearm in Saturday's game against Hawai'i-Hilo. Monson, the reigning GNAC Player of the Year, set a Division II record earlier this season with a 40-game hitting streak.
HPU, the Pacific West Conference champion, is expected to be announced as host of a Super Regional against Chico State (32-19), which won the other West Regional that ended yesterday at Sonoma State. The best-of-three Super Regional will be Friday and Saturday at Okita Field.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON 3, HPU 2
Jennifer Schwartz's two-out, infield single in the top of the ninth scored Taylor Trautman as Central Washington won the morning game.
Central Washington scored in the top of the first on an RBI double by Kelsey Haupert.
HPU took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run homer by Musquiz, but the Wildcats tied it in the sixth on a single by Meghan Kopcyznski that scored Haupert.
C. WASHINGTON (40-14) 100 001 001 — 3 9 0
HAWAI'I PACIFIC (43-7) 000 200 000 — 2 8 1
Lauren Hadenfield and Meghan Kopczynski. Sherise Musquiz and Nicole Morrow. W — Hadenfield (24-5). L— Musquiz (27-2).
Leading hitters — CWU: Jennifer Schwartz 2-5, double, RBI; Samantha Petrick double, run; Kelsey Haupert 2-4, RBI, run; Kopczynski RBI; Taylor Trautman triple, run. HPU: Ciera Senas double; Casey Sugihara double; Morrow 2-4, double; Caira Pires 2-4, run; Musquiz 2-run homer.
HAWAI'I PACIFIC (44-7) 100 000 0 — 1 6 0
C. WASHINGTON (40-15) 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Sherise Musquiz and Nicole Morrow. Lauren Hadenfield and Meghan Kopczynski. W — Musquiz (28-2). L— Hadenfield (24-6).
Leading hitters — HPU: Casey Sugihara run; Nicole Morrow RBI; Musquiz 2-3, double.