Hawaii softball: Losing streak extends to 6 on Rainbow Wahine Classic opening day

Nawai Kaupe drove in two runs on a first-inning homer against Minnesota. / Photo by Jonathan Chen

Offense was nowhere to be found for the Hawaii softball team on opening day of the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic. Facing stiff challenges in back-to-back games against visiting Texas Tech and Minnesota, the Rainbow Wahine mustered a total of 11 hits, driving in just two runs across both games to lose 5-0 to the Red Raiders and 3-2 to the Gophers.

UH dropped to 9-15 with its sixth straight loss.

Texas Tech took command of Game 1 from the get-go, scoring runs in each of the first four innings off of Hawaii starting pitcher Ashley Murphy. In three innings pitched, Murphy relinquished five hits for five runs (four earned). She also walked a trio of Red Raiders. She did not have a strikeout in the outing. Reliever Emily Klee was called upon for the first of her two appearances on the day. Klee pitched the final four innings of Game 1, giving up two hits and walking a lone batter, but didn’t give up any runs.

In the end, that didn’t matter as the Wahine struggled at the plate. Four ‘Bows accounted for all of the team’s offensive output, led by freshman Ka‘ena Keliinoi’s two hits in four at-bats. Callee Heen, Rachel Sabourin and Bree Soma each tallied a hit to round out Hawaii’s stagnant offense. Ultimately, nine Wahine runners were left stranded on base in the five-run loss.

Game two looked to be a potential turnaround for Hawaii. Nawai Kaupe, who was held hitless in Game 1, quickly ensured that the Wahine wouldn’t be shut out across the doubleheader. In her first at-bat against Minnesota, Kaupe sent the ball sailing over the left-field wall for a two-run first-inning home run.

“Nawai was unhappy coming out of the first game because she had a couple of mistakes and didn’t hit the ball or anything. Coming in to that second game, she relaxed a little bit, had a bit more focus,” head coach Bob Coolen said.

“The first game against Texas Tech, I had a rough time hitting,” Kaupe agreed. “I had to get my stuff together and be mentally tough the next game. That’s something I need to work on, not really relying on that home run. I have to keep on hitting and keep on swinging.”

Six ‘Bows picked up a hit this time around, but old habits eventually resurfaced. Minnesota starter Autumn Pease worked through two more clean innings, despite giving up a hit in each. The Gophers then turned to reliever Amber Fiser to open the fourth inning. Fiser made an immediate impact, as she would go on to shut the Wahine down. Fiser struck out six ‘Bows over the next four innings, giving up just a single hit to keep Hawaii scoreless the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Gophers offense stepped up when it needed to most, scoring three unanswered runs off of Hawaii starter Izzy Dino in the final three innings. Dino, who pitched through 6 1/3 innings, gave up five hits and three earned runs. She struck out a single batter, while walking three. Klee was again called on to relieve the starter, working through 2/3 innings while giving up just a single hit to give the Wahine one last chance to salvage the split.

“We have to get better on the mound,” Coolen said. “We really didn’t have good pitching in the first game. In the second game we had really good pitching, but then it just let down in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. I need better pitching. I need a full game out of a pitcher. But Emily did a great job. Don’t take that away from her. She came in in two games and did a great job for us.”

They couldn’t take advantage of Klee’s great performance, however, as the ‘Bows only managed to get one runner on base in the bottom of the seventh.

“It was just frustrating not being able to close the deal after being up 2-0 for four innings,” Coolen said of the loss.

In addition to its overall losing streak, Hawaii fell to 0-7 against Power Five competition. The ‘Bows will have a chance to snap each of those streaks, taking on Drexel on Day 2 of the Rainbow Wahine Classic on Thursday before a Friday rematch with Minnesota.


  1. Matt March 12, 2020 8:31 am

    What’s concerning to me is that Callee’s not bringing the same intensity that she brought from last year. Alarmingly, this year’s roster is really young. 10 freshmen and 6 sophomores with no seniors in the pitching circle. This feels like a rebuild for Bob Coolen, and that’s kind of where it gets nitty-gritty for him because this is ultimately going to be an up-and-down kind of season for him. There were games that this team should have won, and games that sort of got away from him.

    I agree with Bob’s comment after the Minnesota loss that this team needs more production from their sophomores because with such a young class and half of the upperclassmen at his disposal, this is where it gets more tricky from here on out. What is of concern is how it’ll end because prior to going to the doubleheader on Seattle U and Nevada, one of the fans remarked of the concerns with how the Wahine will do against conference competition, and that is of concern because if it does repeat like the 2018 season, there’s no telling what will happen then.

    I’m concerned with what is going to happen with the softball team moving ahead.

  2. H-Man March 12, 2020 9:16 am

    JMO, hindsight always 20-20; however, there is a pattern here. I feel Coach Coolen waits too long to replace Izzy Dino in the game against Minnesota. Wahine had a 2-0 lead going into the 6th, the record shows Dino usually struggles from the 5th on. He should have brought in a relief pitcher sooner.

  3. Honu March 12, 2020 8:57 pm

    This year is a rebuilding year. Coolen picked up some good rookies in Maya Nakamura, Ka’ena Kellinoi, Rachel Sabourin – all who are capable of being starters. Problem is Coolen recruited a lot of players who didn’t pan out. Whatever happened to Brianna Wheeler?

    Have a look at the seniors – only two left in Heen and Ramos? No senior pitcher? Now Coolen has a few sophmore pitchers in Dino and Murphy and some freshmen. Klee has looked good the last few games, but we’ve seen this before. Why is Hawaii the only Big West program that does NOT have a pitching coach? I was at the games yesterday and watched Dino play well against the #19 ranked NCAA team in Minnesota despite giving up runs later in the game to lose a close one 3-2 s. Also watched her hold down Iowa from the Big 10 a few weeks ago 0-0 going into the 6th or 7th inning when the Iowa pitcher struck out 15 of our batters. I remember watching Hitchcock struggle herself against Power 5 teams the past several years including losses to UCLA, Alabama, Oregon, etc. though she had some good games against Oregon State and Utah if my memory serves me.

    When was the last time this team beat a Power 5 team?

    One thing that I have noticed the past few weekends I have watched this team is timely hitting. Saw it as a problem against Seattle U and Oregon State. As much as I like Bree Soma and watched her play at Maryknoll, her batting average has been .200 or below. On most teams, she wouldn’t be in the batting order despite looking good in left field.

    This team lacks leadership from the seniors on the team. Matt mentions Callee Heen’s intensity, but I wonder if this team has enough senior leadership to guide the younger players. Now I’m wondering about next year. How many Juniors this year who can provide leadership and back up their leadership with play on the field? I like some of these young players – when I see Nakamura and Kellinoi, they bring back good memories of players like Iwata and Majam.

    It’s going to be an interesting next few years. Hopefully Coolen figures this out. He’s got some talent, but there are gaps here. Hawaii needs to deal with its pitching issues, but I think there is talent there. It needs to be developed.

  4. Matt April 2, 2020 7:29 pm


    The last win over a Power 5 foe was Purdue in 2017.

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