Logan, UTAH (HawaiiNewsNow)- The No. 12/14 University of Hawai'i softball team improved to 41-5 overall and 15-3 in Western Athletic Conference play, remaining in first place in a tight conference race. The Rainbow Wahine scored five runs in the seventh to pull away from Utah State, 9-2 in the opening game of both team's final regular season series. UH pitcher Stephanie Ricketts earned her 100th career victory with her 28th complete game of the season. Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu and Jessica Iwata highlighted UH's offensive output with one home run apiece.
Ricketts raised her overall record to 26-3 and her conference mark to 11-1. She had a shut-out going into the seventh inning but Utah State's Lindsey Marquez broke it up with a pinch-hit, two-run homer to right. The runs snapped a string of 26 scoreless innings pitched between Ricketts and Kaia Parnaby dating back to the last two innings of the series opener against Fresno State last week. It also broke Ricketts' own personal streak of 15 scoreless innings. She threw seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with two walks and six strike outs.
After a scoreless first inning, the Rainbow Wahine notched one run in the top of the second on an RBI-single by Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu that drove in Dara Pagaduan who had reached earlier on a fielder's choice.
Leisha Liiliiled the fourth inning off with an opposite-field double to left. A sacrifice bunt executed by Pagaduan pushed pinch-runner Jazmine Zamora to third and then Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu launched her eighth home run of the season to give the 'Bows a 3-0 lead. It was Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu's 18th career long ball and her fourth in conference action this season.
Hawai'i increased its lead to 4-0 in the fifth on a solo home run by Jessica Iwata. The homer tied Kelly Majam for the team lead this season at 11. It also tied Iwata with former UH All-America Kate Robinson with 44 career home runs.
Utah State was able to retire the side in order in the sixth, but the 'Bows then erupted for five runs in the final frame to put the game out of reach. Majam started the rally with a one-out double to the right-centerfield gap. Kayla Wartner and Sarah Robinson both walked to load the bases. Then Iwata drew a walk to score Majam. Alexandra Aguirre followed with a single hit back through the middle to score both pinch runner Tara Anguiano and Robinson. The Aggies then lifted starting pitcher Shelbi Tyteca for Mandy Harmon who closed the game. Harmon got Li'ili'i to ground out to the catcher but Pagaduan reached on an error on the first baseman that allowed both Iwata and Aguirre to cross the plate for the 9-0 lead going into the last half inning.
Allison Lenzora led off with a single to right and Marquez followed with a two-run blast to cut their deficit to 9-2. But Ricketts later settled down to retire the final three batters in a row.
Tyteca threw 6.1 innings and was responsible for all nine runs while giving up 10 hits with three walks and four strike outs. Harmon closed the game, getting the final two outs.
On offense, the Rainbow Wahine were led by Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu who went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI; Iwata was 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored and a walk; Majam was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored; Li'ili'i had a double.
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