Li’ili’i, Morales lead Wahine power surge

Leisha Li’ili’i said Rainbow Wahine softball coach Bob Coolen is trying to get her to “step out of her comfort zone” in taking a more vocal role as a senior leader this season.

There’s no questioning her comfort level when she steps into the batter’s box.

Li’ili’i went 7-for-8 at the plate in three games in the Kama‘aina Tournament and launched the second of UH’s five homers in a 16-1 win over Chaminade in the tournament finale on Saturday at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

In all, UH hit 10 home runs in the exhibition tournament against local Division II teams Chaminade, BYU-Hawaii and Hawaii Hilo.

Freshman Rachel Lack hit leadoff homers in two of the three games, including Saturday’s, Heather Morales led the Wahine with three homers on the weekend and Kristina Akiona also went deep twice in the tournament. Kayla Wartner contributed a three-run homer to Saturday’s outburst.

“One through nine I feel like we all rub off on each other,” Li’ili’i said. “The first one hits, the second one hits and it keeps going on down the line.”

That pretty much sums up Coolens’ philosophy of “contagious hitting” and the Wahine showed power potential throughout the lineup in the tournament.

“We can put a lineup together one through nine, and even our 10th hitter can hit the ball,” Coolen said. “We’re capable of hitting and I’m hoping it’s very contagious this year.”

Morales went 4-for-8 with the three homers, two coming in a 12-0 win over UH-Hilo in Friday’s late game. With the Wahine thin on pitching depth last season, she was kept out of the batting order early in the season rather than risk an injury. She became a regular in the lineup in conference play and raised her batting average from .179 to a season-high .319 over a six-game stretch.

Coolen plans to keep her bat in the lineup more often in her sophomore season and she stung the ball throughout the weekend.

“Pretty much I feel dialed in at this point,” Morales said. “Made adjustments from last year when I was able to come in and hit and being able to put everything together feels great now.”

Morales also got the start in the circle against Chaminade and allowed one run on two hits over three innings on Saturday. Brittany Hitchcock and Kanani Aina Cabrales both threw two innings of relief. Aina Cabrales closed the game with four strikeouts in the final two frames.

“Having a year of experience does make a difference because you don’t feel those nerves,” Morales said. “You just feel like it’s another game and stay composed with everything and just reflecting on mistakes last year and being able to work on it now.”

The Rainbow Wahine close the fall with the alumnae game next Saturday. Coolen listed former UH all-American pitchers Stephanie Ricketts and Kate Robinson and shortstop Jessica Iwata among the alums expected to play.

“They have some young guns that want to come out and beat us,” Coolen said.

At Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium
Chaminade 001 000 0 — 1 5 2
Hawaii 435 040 x — 16 14 1
Brett Aspel, Kaitlyn Watanabe (2), Luana Moreno (5), Marisella Rodriguez (6) and Ashley Phelps. Heather Morales, Brittany Hitchcock (4), Kanani Aina Cabrales (6) and Kayla Wartner, Rachel Lack (4), Lindsey Willmon (6). W—Morales. L—Aspel.
Leading hitters—Chaminade: Elia Lizarraga, RBI; Sierra Mendiola, 2B. Hawaii: Rachel Lack, HR; Kayla Wartner, 2-2, HR, 3 RBIs; Ulu Matagiese, 2-2, 2B, 3 RBIs; Keiki Carlos, 2B, 2 RBIs; Leisha Li’ili’i, 2-2, HR, 3 RBIs; Morales, HR; Kristina Akiona, HR; Rachel Turner, RBI; Lorena Ruiz, RBI.


  1. hatakeman November 10, 2014 5:46 am

    Okay!!! This season, Super Regionals.!!!

  2. Cruisecontrol November 10, 2014 6:55 am

    I hope this team can hit like the 2010 team did. Now that was fun!

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