Hawaii softball tracking Tide
BY Stephen Tsai
As the Hawai'i softball team has learned this postseason, the most difficult part about getting to the next stop is, actually, getting there.
A day after winning the Stanford Regional to advance to this week's Super Regional against top-ranked Alabama, the Rainbow Wahine spent most of yesterday scrambling to change hotels and arranging travel from Northern California to Tuscaloosa.
"We've been busy," UH coach Bob Coolen said.
The earliest the Rainbows could depart the Bay Area is this afternoon. Because the Palo Alto, Calif., hotel they used for the regional was booked last night, the Rainbows checked into a hotel in Oakland.
They depart this afternoon from Oakland International Airport.
After a short layover in Arizona, they are expected to arrive in Birmingham tonight. Then they will make the one-hour drive to Tuscaloosa. They are scheduled to check into their hotel at about 11 p.m.
Today is the Rainbows' 15th day on the road, a trip that started with the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M.
But Coolen said the players are not experiencing any road fatigue.
"Oh, no, they enjoy it," Coolen said. "And I don't mind it at all. I like to travel."
Coolen expanded his travel roster by two — his daughter and son are on this trip.
"To me, it's a bonus," Coolen said.
The Rainbows yesterday had weight training at the Stanford athletic complex. They also ran laps around the Cardinal's lacrosse field.
Coolen decided against staging a practice.
"We could have had a field, but they've had enough (in the regional)," Coolen said.
At the hotel in Oakland, the Rainbows found a recreation room. They staged competitions in pool, table tennis and air hockey.
"It's really fun being with the team," centerfielder Kelly Majam said. "It's fun being able to play softball, and not having any school work."
The Rainbows have several concerns in their matchup against Alabama. While the regional was a double-elimination tournament, the Super Regional is a best-of-three series against the Tide Friday and Saturday. The winner advances to the World Series.
Majam said the Tide is a tough team with deep talent. She also apologized for published comments that predicted the Rainbows would win. She said she believed those comments might have been taken out of context, and do not reflect her opinions.
"I didn't mean it that way," Majam said. "I apologize."
Not only must the Rainbows contend with the nation's best team, but they also must deal again with the elements.
In Las Cruces, the dry air forced the Rainbows to repeatedly work on loosening their gloves.
"Our skin was getting really dry, and the gloves were pretty slick," Majam said. "Coach Bob brings shaving cream. If you put it onto your glove, it does something to the leather. It keeps (the glove) soft."
In Alabama, the usually high humidity is a factor.
Coolen said precautions are being made. He said resin will be available for starting pitcher Stephanie Ricketts' pitching hand.
He also said that Easton is sending more batting gloves to help the UH hitters' grip. He said the Rainbows have used 75 pairs of batting gloves this year.
Three UH starters — rightfielder Kanani Pu'u-Warren, catcher Katie Grimes and second baseman Traci Yoshikawa — do not use batting gloves. He said those players will use a spray that, unlike pine tar, offers adhesion that lasts for only a few minutes.
"It's good for that at-bat, and then it disappears," Coolen said.