Hawaii softball: Rainbow Wahine roll to season-opening win over Northern Colorado

Isabella Dino pitched during the fifth inning against Northern Colorado in the 2020 season opener on Thursday. Dino earned a complete-game victory, 11-2. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

A rocky top of the first inning was long forgotten by the time the University of Hawaii softball team finished off a rollicking bottom of that inning to open the 2020 season.

The Rainbow Wahine spotted Northern Colorado a run on a miscommunication in the infield with two out in the first inning on Thursday. But they more than made up for the miscue by pounding out six hits in a nine-run outburst in their first turn at bat to spark an 11-2 rout of the Bears at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.


“I just think we were just so hungry and aggressive to start the game,” UH senior Angelique Ramos said. “We had a little bit of hiccups in the beginning, but we just let it go, flushed it right away, and we were just like ‘It’s our turn now.’ ”

The Wahine sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and did all of their scoring after two out with two newcomers igniting the rally.

Sammie Ofoia, a former All-State Player of the Year at St. Francis who transferred to UH from SIU-Edwardsville, chopped a single through the middle to score fellow St. Francis graduate Ka‘ena Keliinoi with UH’s first run of the season. Maya Nakamura, a freshman from Roosevelt, followed by drilling a two-run triple to right field with the first swing of her collegiate career to give UH its first lead of the year.

“I was really just looking for a pitch to drive and it was right there, got a good swing on it,” Nakamura said. “Surprisingly, going into this game I actually wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be. Same thing going into that at-bat. Wasn’t thinking too much, just tried to clear my head and find a pitch I could drive.”

Two batters later, Ramos lined a shot to nearly the same spot for another two-run triple and scored on Bree Soma’s single through the left side of the infield. The Wahine eventually loaded the bases and all three runners came around on a throwing error on Nawai Kaupe’s sharp grounder to third.

Ramos sparked the Wahine again in the third with a leadoff double and UH added two more runs on Brittnee Rossi’s RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Callee Heen.

The offensive explosion made for a relatively stress-free night for UH right-hander Isabella Dino, who was given the opening-night assignment and earned the five-inning complete-game win. She struck out four and walked one and held UNC to one hit before the Bears pieced together a rally in the fifth; Dino closed the game with a called third strike.

Dino gave up a double to Mady Young in the top of the first and the Bears broke on top on UH’s second error of the inning. With runners on first and third, UNC’s Emma Brockmann took off for second and Heen’s throw sailed untouched into center field, allowing Young to score.

“The jitters I guess because it’s the first game of the season and it had been a little while since I’d been out there,” Dino said of the rough start. “But after that first inning I felt fine. I felt like I was in control and I was just having fun.”

Dino was the first UH pitcher not named Brittany Hitchcock to start a season opener since 2014 — when Heather Morales earned a win over Hampton — and was backed by a new-look lineup as well.

The entire infield is revamped with Ofoia at first, and Keliinoi, a freshman, at second. Kaupe, a Maui High graduate, took over at shortstop after transferring from Washington. Ramos, who spent most of her career at short, shifted over to third following the graduation of four-year mainstay Nicole Lopez.

“I actually came here to play third base, so I feel like I’m back home now, back to my roots,” Ramos said.

The outfield is a bit more familiar with Soma, a junior, in left and Rossi in center. Nakamura, who played shortstop at Roosevelt, opened her career in right field, giving the Wahine five Hawaii high school graduates in the starting lineup.

The three-day Paradise Classic continues Friday with UH scheduled to face Iowa State at 5 p.m. and Memphis at 7. Memphis held off Iowa State 6-4 in Thursday’s first game at RWSS. The tournament concludes with bracket play on Saturday.

University of Hawaii softball coach Bob Coolen opened his 29th season with the 1,007th victory of his career in Manoa. / Photo by Jason Kaneshiro