HPU wins Series opener
By Bo Allegrucci
Special to the Advertiser
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Hawai'i Pacific softball team endured longer than usual travel to reach the Heritage Park Softball Complex for the NCAA Division II championship tournament.
But it made yesterday's 3-1 opening-round victory over Michigan's Wayne State look quick and easy.
Hawai'i Pacific (47-8) will face Angelo State (49-13) today at 1:30 p.m. Hawai'i time.
After mechanical troubles delayed their departure from Honolulu by six hours, the Sea Warriors missed their connecting flight in Indianapolis and finally fluttered into Kansas City 27 hours later for the program's first appearance in this tournament.
But jetlag wasn't an issue. The Sea Warriors needed just 80 minutes to conquer Wayne State, whose mascot is just a plain ol' Warrior. Sherise Musquiz's three-hit pitching kept the Wayne State offense on its heels while HPU's speedy, small-ball offense kept the other Warriors' defense on edge.
Musquiz also came up big at the plate, singling home a vital insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Sea Warriors manufactured a 3-0 lead with key hits in big spots.
"We didn't know anything about Wayne State, but we prepared well and we made our adjustments after the first few innings," Hawai'i Pacific coach Bryan Nakasone said. "We knew they had a good pitcher with a lot of strikeouts, but we got our runners on and got timely hitting.
"When we win, it's because of our timely hitting, and when we lose it's because we don't get timely hitting. It's been that way all year."
Speaking of which, the Sea Warriors scored first with Casey Sugihara's two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the third. Freshman Caira Pires had struck out leading off the inning but reached on a passed ball, and Breanne Patton singled up the middle before Chante Tesoro bunted the runners to second and third with one out.
HPU added a run in the fourth when Maile Kim bopped a leadoff double and scored on Musquiz's soft single into shallow left field.
Musquiz (31-3), who was named to the 2010 Daktronics Softball All-America First Team yesterday, allowed no runs on two hits and two walks through the first six innings. Wayne State spoiled the shutout in its final at-bat when senior left fielder Stephanie LeClair led off the seventh with an infield single and later scored after a pair of Hawai'i Pacific throwing errors.
Wayne State (52-12) brought the tying run to the plate with a runner on second and two outs in the seventh, but Musquiz got pinch-hitter Nicole Abel to fly out to right.
"(Musquiz) stood up there today and beat us," Wayne State coach Gary Bryce said. "She kept the ball inside and we kept beating it into the ground to the third baseman and shortstop. She was good and we were not we have no one to blame but ourselves."
Wayne State ace Casey Hanes, who entered with 0.53 ERA and 355 strikeout in 314 innings, yielded five hits while striking out five to fall to 42-7.