Rainbow Forecast: Hawaii baseball, softball launch 2020 seasons; men’s volleyball hosts tournament

Hawaii pitcher Logan Pouelsen, a possible opening-day 2020 starter on Friday, threw a pitch against UC Davis on April 7, 2019. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Steven Erler

Now the real crush begins.

Hawaii softball and baseball get their 2020 seasons underway at home this week, even as three-day men’s volleyball tournament takes place. There are some intriguing fan possibilities for multi-event crossovers on Friday and Saturday, with action at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, Les Murakami Stadium and the Stan Sheriff Center at staggered start times.

If you’re one of the diehards, check out what’s offered below and plan accordingly.

Meanwhile, the UH basketball teams take to the road coming off successful homestands. Both the Rainbow Warriors and Wahine are 4-0 at the Sheriff Center in conference play. However, the Central California Coast road trip (which both teams are embarking on) is a doozy for travel and has been especially problematic in recent years.

Quick shout-out to the No. 4 Hawaii water polo team, which is off this week and next but is 8-0 after winning the Arizona State Cross Conference Challenge.

Men’s tennis: Saint Mary’s (2-0) at Hawaii (2-4), 3 p.m.
The Rainbow Warriors are coming off a 2-1 mark in dual matches at the Las Vegas Invitational, beating UC Riverside and New Mexico State before falling to host UNLV. The SMC Gaels just edged Division II powerhouse Hawaii Pacific, 4-3. This match might begin as early as 8 a.m. due to expected inclement weather.

Men’s tennis: Saint Mary’s at Hawaii, 3 p.m.
UH was to have its first tennis match televised on Spectrum this week before the expected foul weather nixed that. UH and SMC will try to play for the second straight day, anyway.

Men’s golf: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa, all day
One of the signature events of the season is co-hosted by Hawaii Hilo at the Waikoloa Kings Course. UH is coming off an 18th-place showing among 20 teams at the Kaanapali Classic Collegiate Invitational. There are three top-10 teams in this field, with No. 2 Texas Tech, No. 3 Georgia Tech and No. 6 Pepperdine.

Women’s basketball: Hawaii (11-10, 5-3 Big West) at Cal Poly (5-13, 2-5), 5 p.m. (BigWest.TV)
The Rainbow Wahine are 4-0 at home in Big West play and 1-3 on the road. However, the win came in their last road game. If they want a top-two seeding in the Big West tournament, they’ll likely have to get at least one of these road games on the Central California coast, maybe two. Julissa Tago takes a league-best 18.4 scoring average in Big West games into this one.

Men’s basketball: Hawaii (14-6, 5-1 Big West) at UC Santa Barbara (14-8, 3-4), 5 p.m. (BigWest.TV, KKEA 1420-AM)
The ‘Bows handled the Gauchos on the island, 70-63. Winning at the Thunderdome is another challenge entirely; UH last prevailed there in 2016 en route to the Big West championship. It came close in 2017 (two-point loss) and 2018 (two-point overtime loss), but last year was no contest. Senior guard Max Heidegger, who’s had injury troubles the last two years, came off the bench at Hawaii and scored 21 in the loss. He’s started in the four games since and been on a real tear, coming within a rebound of a triple-double in a 25-point road win at Long Beach State.

Softball: Northern Colorado (0-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 6 p.m.
Bob Coolen launches his 29th season with the Paradise Classic and a Big Sky opponent that went 14-39 last year. The Rainbow Wahine returned to prominence last year by going 33-16, including 14-7 in Big West play. Senior first baseman/catcher Callee Heen anchors the offense while sophomore Izzy Dino should get the nod in the circle after backing up departed six-year workhorse Brittany Hitchcock last season.

Men’s volleyball: Queens (4-4) at No. 1 Hawaii (9-0), 7 p.m. (KHKA 1500-AM)
UH goes from King to Queens. The Royals of the Independent Volleyball Association get the first crack at the Rainbow Warriors — who’ve been off from official matches since playing at King on Jan. 21 — in the four-team Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Invitational. UH swept Queens twice in the Queen City, Charlotte, N.C., last year. Queens has been swept by two mutual opponents — King and Lincoln Memorial — that the Rainbow Warriors dispatched without too much triple. Will redshirt freshman Brett Sheward get the nod as the starting setter for a third straight match?

Men’s golf: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa, all day
Event continues.

Track and field: New Mexico Collegiate Classic, all day
In UH’s first indoor meet of the season, the Ed Jacoby Invitational in Boise, Idaho on Jan. 24-25, Kristen LaCosse tied a program record in the long jump at 5.8 meters, matching Tasha Monroe’s mark from 2005. Now the Wahine head to Albuquerque.

Softball: Iowa State (0-0) at Hawaii, 5 p.m.; Memphis (0-0) at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
Here is where UH’s pitching depth will be tested for the first time. Behind Dino, UH is largely untested. Coolen has a seven-player staff to call upon, so a number of people could get a chance to earn a regular spot between these two games. Memphis was 22-33 in 2019, while ISU was 37-25. It’s not unreasonable to expect the Cyclones of the Big 12 to be the toughest test of the weekend. Note: The UH-ISU game is the third of the day, so it may start late.

Baseball: Hawaii Hilo (2-0) at Hawaii (0-0), 6:35 p.m. (KHKA 1500-AM)
Mike Trapasso’s 19th season launches against the Rainbow Warriors’ sister school. UH, 20-30 a year ago, is attempting to “Find the Joy” (its new motto) after impact position players Dustin Demeter and Adam Fogel were sidelined due to injuries for all or most of last year, respectively. Logan Pouelsen, who’s being asked to pitch exclusively this season, could be the opening-day starter for UH. Hilo has already taken two games from HPU at Wong Stadium in Hilo.

Men’s volleyball: No. 14 Concordia-Irvine (5-3) at No. 1 Hawaii, 7 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
The Eagles will have seen every Big West school once they play UH. They’ve beaten UC San Diego (3-1) and CSUN (3-2) and lost to UC Santa Barbara in three, UC Irvine in four and Long Beach State in five. Like Thursday’s match against Queens, this one is not on TV.

Men’s golf: Amer Ari Invitational, Waikoloa, all day
Event concludes.

Track and field: New Mexico Collegiate Classic, all day
Event concludes.

Softball: Paradise Classic semifinals, 10 a.m. or noon; third-place game or championship game, 2 or 4 p.m.
UH plays two more matches here, with seeding in the bracket depending on the results of Thursday and Friday’s games.

Women’s basketball: Hawaii at UC Santa Barbara (8-12, 3-4), noon (BigWest.TV)
The Gauchos are coming off a tough one, a 66-63 loss at conference leader UC Davis (6-1). The Millers, Danae and Coco, combine for nearly 25 points and 7.8 assists per game, while a 6-foot-4 freshman post, Ila Lane, averages 13.6 points and 12.6 rebounds — the latter of which ranks No. 2 in the country. She’s had double-figure boards in all but four games played this year. UH won a 47-35 rock fight at the Thunderdome last year.

Baseball: Hawaii Hilo at Hawaii, 1:05 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
The Rainbow Warriors and Vulcans play an afternoon contest to cap their two-game set. The Vulcans went 26-19 last year (21-11 PacWest).

Men’s basketball: Hawaii at Cal Poly (5-13, 2-5) 5 p.m. (KKEA 1420-AM)
Last year’s 88-80 loss in San Luis Obispo was one of the low points of the season for the Rainbow Warriors. The Mustangs were struggling then but put it all together for 40 minutes. They’re struggling now under first-year coach John Smith, but they made UH work for it in a 65-61 win at the Stan Sheriff Center to launch a four-game homestand on Jan. 16. The ‘Bows had won three straight at Mott Gym a couple years ago but have lost the last two there.

Men’s volleyball: No. 4 UC Irvine (5-3) at No. 1 Hawaii, 7 p.m. (Spectrum Sports, KHKA 1500-AM)
This could be the biggest test of the 2020 season so far for the Rainbow Warriors. Though both teams are of the Big West, this counts as a nonconference match (they will meet against at the SSC on April 17 and 18, the final matches of the regular season). UCI is battle tested, having lost twice to No. 2 BYU in four sets. It also fell to Lewis in five sets. Things are looking up for the Anteaters, who are coming off a 3-1 win at USC.