After a tournament-opening loss to Oregon State on Thursday night, the Hawaii softball team didn’t have to wait long for a second shot at the Beavers. But first the Rainbow Wahine had to get through Nevada in the first part of a Friday night doubleheader.
Hawaii took care of business against the Wolf Pack, notching nine hits in an 11-3 win. The ‘Bows’ second game against Oregon State didn’t go quite so well. The active bats from the earlier game went silent, as the Rainbow Wahine didn’t tally a hit until the sixth inning. Hawaii (9-10) ultimately finished with just three hits all game, falling to the Beavers 5-1.
The offensive explosion against Nevada came to fruition due in large part to the standout performance of senior Callee Heen. The first baseman finished with two hits in four at-bats. She homered twice to pick up a team-best five RBIs and crossed home plate three times. Her second home run ultimately walked it off for the ‘Bows, pushing their lead to eight for an early finish in the sixth inning. Junior Brittnee Rossi joined Heen with two hits in three at-bats, picking up a triple in the process and scoring a run.
The Wahine are rolling! Bree Soma becomes the 5th ‘Bow to get a hit this inning as Hawai’i storms back to grab 6 runs.
— 陳威廷 Jonathan Chen (@jonchen50) February 29, 2020
Trailing 1-0 halfway through the first inning, the Wahine offense turned up the jets. Each of the first nine Hawaii hitters in the bottom of the first reached base, doing so on five hits, two walks, a fielder’s choice, and a Nevada error. The ‘Bows were able to capitalize, plating six runs in the inning on RBIs from senior Cheeks Ramos, freshman Maya Nakamura, sophomore Mikaela Gandia-Mak, and redshirt junior Bree Soma.
The five-run lead would prove to be more than enough for the Wahine to pick up the victory, but they added three insurance runs anyway in the fourth inning, as Heen’s first homer plated three. Heen wasn’t done, as her second blast in the sixth inning scored two runs and officially ended the game.
“That was key,” head coach Bob Coolen said of Heen’s performance. “She had been struggling a little bit; slow bat, not getting out to the ball. We talked about it. I said ‘you just have to speed up your swing. You have to get your hands to the ball.’ And the ball flies. She’s so strong, and she has great contact. It was nice to see that happen.”
With two homers in the game, Heen moved past Kate Robinson into fourth place all-time for UH softball, with 45 for her career.
“It felt really good,” Heen said of her batting. “I wasn’t trying to necessarily hit home runs. You have the wind blowing and stuff. You just always try to hit ball hard and have a productive at-bat.”
On the defensive side of things, sophomore Izzy Dino displayed her poise on the mound, giving up just three earned runs despite giving up eight hits. She pitched in all six innings, picking up her fourth win of the season. Meanwhile, left fielder Soma returned to the lineup for Hawaii after exiting the night before with an injury on the first at-bat of the game. The injury does not appear to be bothering her.
Riding the momentum of an active hitting game, Hawaii headed into its second matchup of the day. The Oregon State game immediately proved to be a much different affair. The first four innings of the game were a defensive slugfest. Beaver pitcher Trystan Melancon put in a master class on the mound, giving up just three hits and one run, while putting down 11 via strikeout. She pitched all seven innings. On the other side, pitcher Jetta Nannen also put up a fight, throwing four scoreless innings in her first career start. However, the marathon proved to be too much for the true freshman, as she gave up a fifth-inning grand slam that changed the complexion of the game.
Hawaii would go on to avoid the no-hitter on Soma’s leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. The ‘Bows also avoided a shutout, as a Heen single that should have been caught scored a run for the Wahine.
“Frustration,” Heen said of emotions after the second half of the doubleheader. “We know we’re capable of playing a Pac-12 team and being able to beat them. We lost by one pitch.”
With the loss to Oregon State, Hawaii loses the chance to steal a game from a Power Five team in the tournament. But the competition continues, as the ‘Bows return to the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium tomorrow afternoon for another doubleheader against Nevada (3 p.m.) and Seattle U. (5).
Some other shots of Hawaii vs. Nevada by Jonathan Chen: