Wahine close fall with Kama’aina tournament
Keiki Carlos had a hard time recalling the last time she played three games in a day.
“It was maybe travel ball,” the Rainbow Wahine senior said.
The end of fall practice will give some members of the Wahine softball team a flashback to the tournament grind of their high school summers.
The Wahine will have the lower campus to themselves and are scheduled to play five games in two days in the Kama’aina Tournament at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, closing with a tripleheader on Saturday.
The tournament opens Friday with the Wahine taking on Chaminade at 5 p.m. and the alumnae game to follow.
The Wahine and UH Hilo begin Saturday’s play at 10 a.m. UH Hilo then faces Chaminade in a game scheduled for noon and takes on UH Manoa again at 2. The Wahine close the tournament with a rematch with Chaminade at 4.
UH coach Bob Coolen said the annual tournament gives the Wahine a chance to see how they “react to each other and to an opponent.”
“We’re going to play our starters more than anything so they get familiar with each other,” Coolen said.
The right side of the defense will have a familiar look with junior Heather Morales — UH’s leading hitter last season — returning at first base, senior Tayana Mata at second and Carlos in right field. Junior Ulu Matagiese is also back in center field.
The new-look left side will have freshman Nicole Lopez at third and junior transfer Breanna Ojala at shortstop. Freshman Sarah Muzik missed recent practices due to illness and will back up Ojala at shortstop.
Coolen said the coaching staff was considering senior Kiani Wong and freshmen Jennifer Iseri and Heather Cameron in left field.
Sophomore Rachel Lack, who split time at three positions last season, will get most of the playing time behind the plate after starting three games at catcher last spring.
Coolen plans to give sophomore Brittany Hitchcock the start against Chaminade on Friday with Iseri in relief. Junior Kanani Aina Cabrales will get the ball against the alumnae, backed up by Hitchcock and Iseri out of the bullpen.
The Wahine will face freshman Naomi Monahan, who will be on loan to the alumnae, with former All-American Kate Robinson also expected to pitch against the current team.
Monahan and Lopez, the All-State Position Player of the Year as a junior at Mid-Pacific, have already earned spots with the team’s power hitting group in the batting practice rotation. Coolen said Monahan has two home runs in intrasquad scrimmages and could push for the designated player role, with Aina Cabrales also in contention.
With 10 newcomers on the roster, “leadership is going to be a lot more crucial this year,” Carlos said, “but I feel the freshmen really hold their own.”
“The rookies are catching the drift and they’re really playing like they’re not freshmen,” she said. “A little nervous, but that’s going to happen with freshmen. But they’re playing a lot more mature and their game sense is there.”
Along with wrapping up fall practice, the tournament also sets the groundwork for the spring.
“This is also the beginnings of who travels,” Coolen said. “Right now we have stats on all the scrimmages we had live with umpires. We’ve got stats, we’ve got things to talk about. So this will be the culmination of all that.”
While the current team looks ahead to the spring, the alumni game will again be a fun reunion for those returning to RWSS.
Leisha Li’ili’i switches over to the first-base dugout after completing her career in the spring, and the alumnae roster will include the top four home run hitters in the program’s history in Kelly (Majam) Elms (72), Jessica Iwata (55), Li’ili’i (49) and Robinson (44).
Those slated to play for the alumnae also include:
Richie-Ann (Titcomb) Calizar
Shannon (Lum) Uta
Aiko (Okamura) Gojo
Kehau (Cofran) Aina
Dara (Pagaduan) Asing
Joyce (Lum) Okumura
Those also attending the game:
Joyce (Antonio) Kong
Penny (Brun) Vess
Chris (Viernes) Neves
coach John Nakamura
Wasn’t it Jenna Rodriguez that scored all five runs in the game against Alabama.What a game that was, and Alabama was # at the time if i remember.
I don’t know about driving in all five runs, but it was Jenna that hit the walk-off HR to beat Alabama in 2010. What a game. The Bama players appeared to be in a state of shock.