The Rainbow Wahine softball team’s latest recruiting class began to take shape before the signees could drive.
The adulation over UH’s Women’s College World Series appearance in 2010 was still bubbling when Jennifer Iseri and Heather Cameron first reached out to UH coach Bob Coolen — as eighth graders.
“I was getting e-mails and messages from them and they were so excited,” Coolen recalled.
Coolen said Naomi Monahan also started following the Rainbow Wahine in the eighth grade and, like Iseri and Cameron, remained devoted to UH through her career at Roseville (Calif.) High School.
For his part, Coolen kept track of the youngsters’ progress in high school and club ball and eventually offered them the opportunity to join the program.
They finalized the process by signing letters of intent as part of a five-player recruiting class announced on Monday.
Iseri and Cameron are batterymates at Cerritos (Calif.) High School while Monahan is a pitcher/second baseman at Roseville. The Wahine also signed Mid-Pacific all-state third baseman Nicole Lopez and shortstop Sarah Muzik of Notre Dame (Calif.) High.
The 2016 freshman class will deepen UH’s pitching staff with the additions of Iseri and Monahan to a group that now features a freshman (Brittany Hitchcock) and two sophomores (Kanani Aina Cabrales and Heather Morales).
Iseri went 15-4 with a 1.78 earned-run average while throwing to Cameron in their junior year and leading Cerritos to a league title. She can also play in the outfield and she hit .526 with six home runs and was named the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s player of the year in June.
Monahan, a right-hander whose repertoire includes a knuckleball, went 16-3 with a 2.18 ERA last season while hitting .311 with two home runs.
“We usually have two (pitchers) with the possibility of a third,” said Coolen, who figures to have five in 2016. “It’s really good to have the versatility and the opportunity.
“(Iseri and Monahan) both throw in the low 60s and they bring two totally different styles of pitching, which is great.”
Cameron hit .381 while also earning all-league honors last season and the Wahine added two accomplished high school hitters in Lopez and Muzik.
Lopez hit .500 on her way to being named the Star-Advertiser All-State Position Player of the Year
last season. Although she might not have the look of a home run hitter, “every time I got to watch her play, that’s all she was doing,” Coolen said.
Lopez drilled six home runs for MPI last season and drove in 25 runs to help the Owls return to the state tournament for the second time in her career. She made her commitment official at the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance signing day event at the Elk’s Club in Waikiki last Wednesday.
“She hit anyone and everyone,” Coolen said. “She’s just very sound in her swing.”
Coolen said he was scouting a player for the 2016 graduating class when Muzik caught his eye as a versatile leadoff hitter. Muzik hit .540 last season using her speed as a slap hitter to reach base or driving pitches over a drawn in outfield. She had three doubles, seven triples and two home runs and is expected to compete at one of the middle infield spots when she arrives in Manoa.
“Her softball IQ is amazing and her sense of awareness on the field is incredible,” Coolen said.
The current Rainbow Wahine team closed fall practice with Saturday’s 11-1 win over the alumnae. They’ll resume offseason training and conditioning in preparation for a 2015 season that opens Feb. 5 against Saint Mary’s with DePaul and Oklahoma to follow in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic.