Wahine softball team opens practice

The Rainbow Wahine softball team warms up to start its first official practice of the spring on Saturday morning.
The Rainbow Wahine softball team warms up to start its first official practice of the spring on Saturday morning.

More than half a year has passed since the Rainbow Wahine softball team closed its 215 season by winning five of its last six games, including a sweep of UC Davis in its final weekend.

Even with a sizable group of newcomers joining the program in the fall, the Wahine entered their first official practice of the spring on Saturday looking to extend the shelf life of the momentum of last year’s finish to a 32-22 campaign.

“I think we ended on a good note,” UH sophomore Brittany Hitchcock said. “We had some good solid series and we’re excited to feed off that and come back with a lot of returning upperclassmen and some strong underclassmen and kind of seeing what we can do with that and try get further this year than we did last year.”

Saturday morning’s practice at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium starts UH’s four-week run up to the Feb. 11 opener against St. Mary’s in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. The Wahine will also face Ole Miss and UMKC in the first of five tournaments UH will host prior to Big West play.

“This is what everyone waits for,” Hitchcock said. “This is what we practice so hard for in the fall, get into shape for, so that we can do what we love on the field.”

By the end of next week, UH coach Bob Coolen plans to test the team in controlled scrimmages to give the newcomers more looks against returning pitchers Kanani Aina Cabrales and Hitchcock.

“For the new kids it’s going be real big because they have to start seeing pitching with Nani pitching and Brit pitching,” Coolen said.

Coolen will also work in freshmen Naomi Monahan and Jennifer Iseri into the rotation along with junior Heather Morales, who is also projected to to start at first base, “because I want to have the ability to have five pitchers.”

“We need to have an understanding coming out of the next four week what their roles are,” Coolen said.

The pitching staff throw to a relatively new set catchers with Kayla Wartner ending her run as a four-year starter last spring. Sophomore Rachel Lack, who saw some time at catcher last season, and freshman Heather Cameron are expected to handle most of the work behind the plate.

Tayana Mata had a strong fall at second base and the left side of the infield will have a new look with freshman Sarah Muzik and junior transfer Bre Ojala competing at shortstop and freshmen Nicole Lopez and Carly Pina at third base.

Iseri figures to get a long look in left field when not pitching with center fielder Ulu Matagiese and right fielder Keiki Carlos returning to the outfield.

“We just need to see where we’re at,” Coolen said. “We basically have our positions covered, it’s just a matter of getting a lineup situated in practice.”

Coolen will also look for leadership from Carlos, Morales and Hitchcock, who were named team captains leading into the season.

“The upperclassmen know the system and they have to now convey that to the younger kids a little bit louder and a little bit more often,” he said.

Coolen said the newcomers showed a “certain swag that we’ve been looking for” in the fall and they’ve impressed the returnees with their willingness to work.

“They’re all confident and I feel like they’re here to play,” Carlos said “They have the right mind-set and they want to be here, which is what we want as upperclassmen so that’s a great sign.”


  1. H-Man January 18, 2016 3:35 pm

    Anxious to see who the starters will be at 3rd ad SS. This should be a real good hitting team.

  2. cappie the dog February 11, 2016 5:33 am

    While looking at Lindsey Willmon in the context of the Fresno State softball, I didn’t realize that Villapando had transferred last season. No wonder Coach Coolen had to insert two infielders who looked a little overwhelmed to be out there on the field. Their value is pinch-running.

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