Coolen ready to test newcomers

UH softball coach Bob Coolen won’t wait long to test a young Rainbow Wahine roster.

The Wahine opened fall practice on Monday with 10 newcomers taking the field and they’ll have two workouts behind them when the coaches split them up for intrasquad scrimmages Thursday and Friday.

For starters, Coolen plans to keep most of the returnees on one side opposite the rookies this week before mixing the classes next week. Thursday’s scrimmage will also give him a gauge on the progress of returning pitchers Kanani Aina Cabrales (13-15, 2.82 ERA last season) and Brittany Hitchcock (18-7, 2.37, first-team All-Big West). He plans to send junior Heather Morales (1-0, 2.92) and freshmen Naomi Monahan and Jennifer Iseri into the circle on Friday.

“The true test comes Thursday and Friday,” Coolen said in reviewing the team’s first practice. “That’s when we’ll see all of our new pitchers and where Brittany and Kanani are, whether they’ve stepped it up to the next level after a year under their belt. It’s gonna be interesting to see what Jennifer Iseri and Naomi Monahan have to offer.”

However Coolen splits the roster, the Wahine will have a new look on the left side of the infield.

Two-year starter Sarina Jaramillo transferred to Utah State after last season, leaving a vacancy at shortstop. The Wahine opened practice with Bre Ojala, a junior transfer from Cuesta College, and freshman Sarah Muzik at shortstop.

Mid-Pacific graduate Nicole Lopez, the All-State Position Player of the Year as a junior, and fellow freshman Carly Pina comprise the rotation at third base.

Coolen said the freshmen came out with abundant energy in their first college practice and likes what he’s seen from both shortstops.

Coolen said, Ojala “has a nice arm, I just have to see how she hits.” He was impressed by Muzik’s softball IQ when he spotted her on the recruiting trail.

“She’s quick, she’s confident. She’s hard on herself sometimes, but I’d rather have that than someone who’s complacent about their play,” Coolen said of Muzik, a softball and basketball all-star at Notre Dame High School in California.

The right side is far more familiar with Morales — UH’s leading hitter last season at .331 — back at first and seniors Dori Ann Sugai and Tayana Mata at second. Sugai, Mata and senior outfielder Kiani Wong were awarded scholarships for their senior year.

Senior Keiki Carlos (.293, 8 HR, 30 RBI) remains entrenched in right field with Ulu Matagiese (.267, 3 HR) and Wong in center. Sophomore Rachel Lack, who made starts at three positions last season, is slated to split time between left field and catcher.

Freshman Heather Cameron, Iseri’s teammate at Cerritos High School, joins Lack in the mix to fill the cleats of four-year starter Kayla Wartner behind the plate.

“We may have to call a lot of pitches before she starts getting into the rhythm, but she wants to learn,” Coolen said of Cameron. “She has a good arm, we just have to get her more aggressive and she where she’s at at the plate.”

Carlos and Hitchcock retained their roles as captains with Morales representing the junior class in the leadership group.

The Wahine will cap the fall with the Kama’aina Tournament set for Nov. 6-7. UH will play five games in two days, facing Chaminade in the Nov. 6 opener followed by the alumnae game. The Wahine play UH-Hilo twice on Nov. 7 and Chaminade again in the fall finale.

Also …

>> Coolen is close to finalizing this season’s schedule. He has secured all of the contracts and just needs final clearance. The Wahine are slated to host five tournaments in the spring.

>> The coaches will take a break from practice on Oct. 23 to attend the Friends of UH Athletics Golf Tournament at Mililani Golf Club. Registrations are still being accepted for the tournament. The cost is $150 per player and $450 per three-player team (includes green and cart fee and lunch).


  1. H-Man October 15, 2015 2:48 am

    Looking forward to a great season. I know the Wahine will be a lot better with a year’s experience under the belt for our starting pitchers. And the return of hitting power by Morales. They’re going to be fun to watch. Oops, cannot forget Keiki. And will miss Wartner.

  2. livealoha October 15, 2015 6:52 am

    Lindset Willmon (Fresno State) and Kristina Akiona (Colorado State) also transferred. Some big losses, but team chemistry was the issue this past year more so than talent.

  3. kimo browner October 16, 2015 4:19 am

    Wilmon is a big loss. Im wondering why 3 starters pack up and leave? Hawaii’s hitting instructor sucks. Too rigid.

Comments are closed.