Change has been fairly constant for the Hawaii softball team.
Since the start of the season, UH coach Bob Coolen has continually tinkered with the lineup and went 13 games before repeating a batting order. In all, he’s written 24 different combinations over 38 games and 18 players have at least one start this season.
Coolen wrote in an identical nine, changing only the pitcher spot, during a five-game stretch in Big West play. But he hinted more changes might be coming as the Wahine (20-18, 4-5 BWC) enter their series against conference leader Cal State Fullerton (23-20, 8-1).
“I’m going to send a message (in practice) that we’re moving people around,” Coolen said on Tuesday as the Wahine look to ignite an offense hitting .248 overall and a league-low .195 in Big West play.
The series with the Titans opens with a single game at 6 p.m. Friday followed by a 2 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday. The series will be televised on Spectrum Sports.
Two weeks after sweeping Cal Poly at home, UH returns to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium looking to regain momentum following a series loss at UC Santa Barbara last weekend. The Wahine won the opener to run their winning streak to four then dropped both ends of last Saturday’s doubleheader.
“Our pitching was definitely on (at UCSB) and definitely on on Friday. Dana (Thomsen) was great,” Garcielita said. “Saturday things were a little shaky at the plate for the lineup as a whole. I… Once we figure that out I think that we’ll definitely have that confidence back for Fullerton and the rest of our series.”
The only two fixtures through an undulating 38 games have been Nicole Lopez at third base and Danielle Garcielita in center field, although they’ve changed places in the batting order at various points. Callee Heen is the only other player with 38 starts, splitting time between catching and the designated player spot.
Heen leads the Wahine at the plate at .368 overall and is tied with Cal State Northridge’s Savannah Horvath for the Big West lead with 13 home runs. Heen’s .792 slugging percentage trails only Horvath and she’s tied for fifth with 31 RBIs.
Lopez enters the week hitting .311 overall with seven home runs while Garcielita has picked up her production in conference play. The senior struggled for much of the nonconference schedule but is hitting a team-best .357 in nine Big West games.
The Wahine will probably have some fans in Long Beach for this weekend’s series. Cal State Fullerton claimed the conference lead by taking two games from the 18th-ranked 49ers last week and enters the series one game ahead of LBSU. UH is tied for third with UCSB and UC Davis.
“(The Titans) feel real good about themselves right now,” Coolen said. “I’m sure they didn’t want to be where they were going into the conference, but to go 8-1and go from five games under .500 to now tow games over .500 … now they’ve proven they’re not a bad team.”
Cal State Fullerton is hitting .290 overall, .298 in conference play, and leads the Big West with 71 stolen bases. The next highest stolen-base total is CSUN’s 36.