All-America Rainbows UH opens against Missouri
The answer to the critics and doctors is this: All-America status.
Yesterday, Hawai'i third baseman Melissa Gonzalez was named to the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-America first team. Center fielder Kelly Majam was selected to the second team.
"It's been a fun year," said Gonzalez, a junior who is ranked 36th nationally with a .408 batting average.
"All glory to God," said Majam, a second-year freshman who leads the nation with 30 home runs.
Critics have questioned the Rainbow Wahine's level of competition as members of the Western Athletic Conference, and an NCAA single-season home run record that was helped by playing 11 games in high-altitude cities.
But those arguments were offset by playing in heavier air — and against trade winds — in Mānoa, as well as their dramatic upset of top-ranked Alabama in the Super Regionals.
The All-America honors, Gonzalez insisted, validated the Rainbows' overall talent.
Gonzalez and Majam also worked intensively to have breakout seasons. Gonzalez was hindered most of last year by a foot injury that required her to wear a medical boot while walking around campus. She also moved to third after playing shortstop and second in her first two UH seasons.
"It was worth it," Gonzalez said of the lengthy rehabilitation sessions, including sprints on a sun-baked track.
Majam missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL during the preseason.
Both acknowledge this achievement fulfills childhood dreams and, it is wished, will serve as inspiration to youth softball players.
"This is really a team honor," Gonzalez said. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates."