Softball socks Georgia State to open 2019

Mama Rivera led off the fourth inning with a single. / Photo by Brian McInnis

It was the start Bob Coolen was looking for.

Hawaii crushed Georgia State 8-0 in five mercy-shortened innings late Thursday night to launch the 2019 season, as sixth-year senior Brittany Hitchcock tossed a one-hitter and Callee Heen and Nicole Lopez paced the Rainbow Wahine at the plate.

“That was something we haven’t done in a long time, is come out on the first night and really pound the ball,” said Coolen, who launched his 28th season. “Pitching was there — Brittany said she felt a little rusty, a little anxious — but to throw a one-hitter, to go out there, come back and not really lose it too much (was good). When she gave up the (three) walks, she didn’t give up the hits, which was great, because (GSU was) an aggressive team the game before that (a 7-5 loss to Saint Mary’s). They had a lot of hits and scored a lot of runs, and were really aggressive, and Brittany shut them down. It was really nice to see our offense come alive.”

Heen launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the first to get the scoring started. Lopez doubled down the left-field line in the fourth to make it 5-0. The Wahine compiled eight hits and scored in all innings but the second. Hitchcock struck out five in her first official action since her 2018 season ended early with an injury.

“Everyone produced tonight and our pitching did well. Britt did a good job,” said Lopez, the veteran third baseman. “From the first inning, Callee came up and hit a dinger, so that was good. I think we produced as a team. It was contagious hitting. It was finally a good way to open up. I mean, we haven’t had that in a while.”

By contrast, UH lost its 2018 opener 10-1 to BYU in Las Vegas. The two years before that, the Wahine enjoyed modest wins in their openers.

Now they face Texas-Arlington (4:30) and No. 1/2 UCLA (7 p.m.) on Friday, but keep in mind those are the last two of five games. UH’s game Thursday started about a couple hours behind the projected 7 p.m. start time and it was nearly midnight when the teams left the field after the game.

“I think tonight gave us a good confidence boost,” Lopez said. “It kind of set the pace, knowing we can out-hit people. We can score runs. Going into tomorrow, we have to have that same mind-set. Not that we’re playing UCLA, but more of the mind-set that we’re going to win.”

Coolen said he will shift some players around for the Arlington game. Heather Cameron could take over at catcher for Heen, who would shift to first (where Madison Veldman played Thursday). Freshman Izzy Dino could get her first start in the circle.

“Second lineup we’ll probably go back to Brittany,” Coolen said. “She really wants to pitch against UCLA, and Callee really wants to catch them and see what we can do. So it will be two contrasting games tomorrow, with a freshman on the mound and then a sixth-year senior on the mound.”

UCLA edged Arlington 2-1, then won comfortably over Fresno State 8-2 on Thursday. Arlington lost 5-4 to Fresno in nine innings.


  1. H-Man February 8, 2019 6:36 am

    Great way to open the season. Got there at 7, but the game didn’t start till 9:30. Agree Brittany was a little nervous. I thought moving Cheeks to second was a good move.

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