Hawaii softball: 7 seniors look to make final week count

Rainbow Wahine softball seniors Heather Cameron, Jennifer Iseri, Alyssa Sojka, Nicole Lopez, Brittany Hitchcock, Carly Pina and Jenna Kumabe. / Photo by Brian McInnis, Star-Advertiser

Despite taking its final road series by a count of two games to one, the road to a Big West championship got considerably tougher for the Hawaii softball team.

Heading into its final series of the season, at home against UC Davis this week, UH (32-14, 13-5 Big West) trails first-place Cal State Fullerton (35-16, 15-3) by two games with three to play.

It actually amounts to a 2.5-game lead for the Titans, who swept UH in a series at Fullerton last month, and thus own the head-to-head tiebreaker. That means UH must sweep UC Davis (37-13, 11-7) at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium and have the Titans lose out at UC Riverside (26-22, 8-10) in order to secure the Big West regular-season title outright and the automatic ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Tough odds, but it is still the best chance UH has had since it last contended for a Big West title in 2013.

“We are technically in it,” coach Bob Coolen said. “So, we need to come out, take care of business, not let all of the other side effects going on — finals, graduation, senior day — we just need to play the three senior games and go from there. If Fullerton falls flat at Riverside, so be it. If we have a great series at home, we get the NCAA berth. But it’s a longshot. It’s just like the Kentucky Derby.”


In an unusual setup — as requested by the Big West for reasons coach Coolen wasn’t entirely sure about — UH will play a doubleheader Thursday (5 and 7 p.m.), then a single game Friday (7 p.m.). Note that this is a reversal of the original schedule (there was to be a doubleheader Friday), and the times have changed as well.

Coolen pointed out it presents some problems for his players to take some final exams Friday morning after a five-hour playing session the night before.

“I don’t know if Davis wanted 2-and-1 and get out of here at 10 o’clock at night on a Friday. I have no idea,” Coolen said. “All I know is if they complain louder than we complain to the Big West, then they got what they wanted. That’s all I know. I don’t know how it came down, that the commissioner (Dennis Farrell) got involved.”

UH can keep itself in the running by sweeping the Aggies in the two games Thursday.

Third baseman Nicole Lopez, one of UH’s seven seniors, plans to treasure the remaining time with her teammates regardless of what happens over in Riverside (one game there Friday and two Saturday).

“We’re just controlling what we can control at this point,” Lopez said. “We can’t control what Fullerton does. Who beats Fullerton, who Fullerton beats. But we can focus on ourselves and just pray for, we want a sweep, but (a) series win. Especially because this past series (at Cal State Northridge, corrected from Fullerton) we didn’t sweep, but we did what we needed to do (for a 2-1 series win). We beat them. That’s kind of all that we could ask for. Just going with the flow and controlling what we can control, which is ourselves.”

UH’s other seniors playing their final games are pitcher Brittany Hitchcock (the back-to-back Big West pitcher of the week); outfielder Jennifer Iseri; catcher Heather Cameron; first baseman Carly Pina; second baseman Alyssa Sojka; and utility player Jenna Kumabe.


Hitchcock is a sixth-year player; Iseri, Cameron, Lopez and Pina have played four years; and Sojka (junior college transfer) and Kumabe (San Diego transfer) have been here the last two.

“We have so much love for each other,” Lopez said. “We have so many seniors who are leaving. Five of us have been in this experience for four years together, so our senior year especially, we came together even closer, knowing it’s our last year. I think our bond was so strong, the love we have for each other and the sport.”

COMMENTS

  1. H-Man May 7, 2019 8:18 pm

    Great senior class. Aloha and fair sailing !!!


  2. Kazu May 8, 2019 3:46 am

    Hope they can sweep this week end. This may be a good year for UH. Men’s Volleyball,Beach Volleyball, Water Polo all went to the NCAA tournament, lets hope this Soft Ball team can make it.
    Go Bows !


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