Coolen covers the bases with signing class
The Rainbow Wahine softball team’s latest signing class has a left-handed tilt to it.
Of the five signees set to join the program for the 2017 season announced on Thursday, three hit from the left side, including two first-team All-State selections.
Campbell shortstop Chardonnay Pantastico and Maryknoll center fielder Bree Soma are productive high school hitters from the left side as is Callee Heen, a shortstop/catcher out of San Benito High School in Hollister, Calif.
“We’re bringing in three left-handed bats to fill needs with Bree being a natural lefty,” UH coach Bob Coolen said.
The Wahine also went for power in Angelique Ramos, a third baseman from Millikan High School in Long Beach, Calif., and pitcher Briana Wheeler out of Etiwanda High School.
“I think we’ve hit a lot of different needs with infielders, outfielders, on the mound, behind the plate. I think that bodes well for us because it turned out to be a bigger class than it started out to be,” Coolen said.
With the graduation of Leisha Li’ili’i and Kayla Wartner last season, Coolen said Heen “satisfies a huge need of ours and that’s a left-handed power bat.”
Heen, who is part Hawaiian, hit .634 and was named the Monterey Bay League’s Most Valuable Player as a junior for the Haybalers, and signed her letter of intent on Wednesday.
Pantastico hit .333 and was a Star-Advertiser first-team All-State pick after helping the Sabers capture the Division I state championship last spring. Soma hit .387 while starting in center field in Maryknoll’s run to the D-I semifinals. They signed their national letter of intent at the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance ceremony on Wednesday in Waikiki.
“I really enjoyed watching (Pantastico) in the state tournament,” Coolen said. “I thought she was an integral part of Campbell winning the whole thing. She was loud and assertive and a leader and that’s what we wanted to see.”
While the three mainland recruits committed to UH prior to their junior years of high school, Soma gave her pledge relatively late in the process. Coolen said he talked to her after the summer tournaments and became Coolen’s first signee from Maryknoll on Wednesday.
“We really needed an outfielder and with Bree being a natural lefty, and her jumps on the ball, good arm and sneaky power, it was fun to watch her this summer,” Coolen said. “I watched five or six games in a row and she had pretty much the same type of game every time. Hit the ball well, runs well, smart on the bases, good softball IQ.”
Ramos, who goes by “Cheeks,” hit .402 with 10 home runs last season and was named All-CIF Division I last season. Last year, the Orange County Register featured Ramos, the granddaughter of former world lightweight champion Mando Ramos. She was also a member of the Long Beach Press Telegram’s Softball Dream Team along with current UH freshman Jennifer Iseri.
Coolen said Wheeler has been committed to UH since early in her high school career and compared her presence in the circle with current junior Kanani Aina Cabrales. The right-hander went 18-4 with a 1.37 earned-run average and 201 strikeouts in 153 innings at Etiwanda High School.
“She’s gotten a much better change up in the last year,” Coolen said. “I recruited her strictly as a power pitcher and now she’s developed a change up that will help her and hopefully she uses it a lot this year that’ll help her master it and have confidence in it.”
Congrats to coach Coolen for another great recruiting class.