HPU softball reaches national tournament
• Photo gallery: Hawaii Pacific softball
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Hawai'i Pacific softball team made it look easy and not so easy yesterday in a sweep of Chico State.
And now the Sea Warriors, for the first time, can make travel arrangements for St. Joseph, Mo., site of the NCAA Division II national championship tournament.
The Sea Warriors needed ace Sherise Musquiz to come through yesterday, and she delivered a pair of complete games in 11-2 and 5-3 victories over Chico State in the NCAA II West Super Regional at Howard A. Okita Field in Kāne'ohe.
"I can't even describe it. Just pure excitement," said Musquiz, a 6-foot senior right-hander.
In the second game, HPU scored four runs in the first and held off Chico State, which stranded nine runners, including five in scoring position.
Musquiz scattered 11 hits — 10 were singles — with no walks and four strikeouts for HPU, the Pacific West Conference champion and ranked No. 3 in the NFCA Division II Top 25 poll. In the two games yesterday, Musquiz threw 194 pitches.
"She is a bulldog," said HPU coach Bryan Nakasone. "If you notice our defense behind her supported her. Sherise herself, that's her nature. She is a bulldog. She refuses to lose. She loses and we lose, she takes it personal."
Nicole Morrow had an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring double in the fourth, which put HPU (44-8) ahead 5-1.
The Wildcats scored two in the fifth, but stranded runners at the corners in each of the final two innings.
Before handing the ball to Musquiz to start the top of the seventh, Nakasone gave her a brief pep talk, then slammed the ball in her glove.
"I told her let's get the first out," Nakasone said. "Worry about the first out and we'll get the rest."
By that time, Musquiz probably didn't need any motivation.
"I think the adrenaline kicked in," Musquiz said of the final innings. "I kept thinking, 'Let's do this.' "
Musquiz got the lead-off batter, but a double by Sam Quadt, a pop out, and single by Jenna Wermes put runners at the corners.
Musquiz then fielded a comebacker by the Wildcats' No. 6 hitter and threw to first baseman Breanne Patton for the final out.
Musquiz improved to 29-3 with yesterday's victories.
"She's such a strong girl physically and mentally, and when she pitches everyone knows just to back her up," said Morrow, a freshman catcher. "She did so well in the super regionals and regionals. We knew she was going to get it done."
HPU's victory ended a remarkable run by Chico State (33-21), the fourth-place team out of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The Wildcats beat HPU, 5-0, on Friday in the opener of the best-of-three series.
"They've shown a lot of heart all year," said Chico State coach Angel Shamblin, who played at Brigham Young-Hawai'i. "We've battled in a lot of close games in conference and the CCAA tournament and regionals. We fight; we fight until the end."
The Sea Warriors showed improved energy after Friday's loss.
"We weren't like putting ourselves down," Morrow said. "We were just staying positive, saying this is just another doubleheader that we needed to win. We knew we had to win."
The Sea Warriors, who won their first regional last week, will leave tomorrow for the national championship tournament. They will open Thursday against No. 7 Wayne State (Detroit, Mich.), the winner of the Midwest Super Regional. Wayne State is 52-11.
HPU 11, CHICO STATE 2
In yesterday's opener, the Sea Warriors walked away with the victory.
HPU drew 11 walks off four pitchers — with seven of the base runners coming around to score — in a game shortened to five innings because of the eight-run mercy rule.
"It was one of those games. It happens and unfortunately it happened at the wrong time," Shamblin said of her pitchers' control problems.
Musquiz pitched a five-hitter with one walk and three strikeouts.
The Sea Warriors, the designated visiting team for the opener, had a four-run third, five-run fourth and two-run fifth.
HPU No. 2 hitter Casey Sugihara and No. 5 hitter Musquiz each walked three times.
Chico State issued six free passes in the fourth, including consecutive bases-loaded walks to Kozy Toriano, Patton and Melissa Awa.
"We went through their pitchers all in one or two innings," Nakasone said. "It's a tough situation for their relievers to come in. They just couldn't find the strike zone."
Toriano also had a two-run triple in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Chico State scored twice off Musquiz in the third to get within 4-2. Courtney Brock had an RBI single and Christine Johnson scored on a throwing error by the HPU catcher on a double steal with runners at the corners.