The No. 20/24 University of Hawai'i softball team (40-11, 17-4 Big West) embarks on its final roadtrip of the season to face Pacific in a three-game conference tilt with the outright Big West title on the line. Currently, UH is in first place with a 17-4 BWC record with three games left to play with the proverbial "magic number" at one. Long Beach State-who has already completed its conference games-has a 17-7 record and hold the tie-breaker over UH after winning the series in Honolulu, 2-1.
The Rainbow Wahine bounced back after a 4-1 nine inning loss to start this past week's series against UC Santa Barbara on Friday night to sweep Saturday's doubleheader on Senior Day at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. The 'Bows launched five home runs and held off the charging Gauchos in a slugfest to start the day, 11-9. Senior ace Kaia Parnaby made her return to the field after missing two games against LBSU after suffering a broken nose. She suffered the extra inning loss against UCSB on Friday but bounced back on Saturday for the first win. Then, UH closed out the series with a decisive 8-0 win in five innings with four more UH home runs-highlighted by a walk-off solo smash to center by senior Jessica Iwata to give the 'Bows the mercy-rule win. It marked the third time in four Senior Day games that Iwata came through in the clutch with a walk-off hit in Hawai'i's final home game of the season. Freshman pitcher Loie Kesterson earned her first complete game shutout of her career.
The home run barrage was led by four players who hit one in each of Saturday's games-Iwata, Sharla Kliebenstein, Kayla Wartner, and Jazmine Zamora all provided the power surge that was missing on Friday night. Kelly Majam also hit a home run on her final day at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium to raise her career total to 72 which ranks her No. 9 all alone in NCAA career history. She is the current No. 1 amongst NCAA active players in home runs; tied for No. 3 with Nerissa Myers of Louisiana-Lafayette with 231 runs scored; and No. 4 with 154 walks. Majam is UH's all-time career record leader in home runs, runs scored, doubles, and walks and she leads the 2013 team with 55 runs scored, 18 home runs, 10 stolen bases, an .779 slugging percentage and a .467 on-base percentage.
Junior second baseman Zamora leads UH with a.345 batting average (49-for-142). She has recorded career-highs this season with 21 runs scored, 49 hits, seven doubles, five home runs and 25 RBI. Zamora also leads the 'Bows in conference games with a .403 average and 29 hits. Sophomore catcher Wartner is second on the team hitting .329 with a team-high 52 hits. She has also been a part of UH's recent offensive onslaught, hitting .382 in the Big West with 18 runs scored, five doubles and five home runs.
Freshman Keiki Carlos continues her steady season at the plate, hitting a solid .325 (51-for-157) with a team-high 13 doubles and four triples to go with six home runs and 28 runs scored. Junior utility player Sharla Kliebenstein has enjoyed UH's switch into the BWC the most. She is hitting .254 overall, but in conference is hitting a scorching .385 with a team-high 21 RBI and .974 slugging percentage.
In the circle, Parnaby is still a little banged up, but is ready to roll. She tied the Big West single-season record and continues to lead the NCAA DI with 35 wins. She is now 35-5 overall and 14-2 in conference action. Overall she has a 1.51 ERA with 42 starts and 35 complete games. She has thrown 279.0 out of UH's 348.2 innings with 42 walks and 317 strike outs which ranks her No. 3 in the nation.
At the very least, Hawai'i will end in a tie for first place with LBSU, but the automatic NCAA bid in that scenario will go to the 49ers. UH's share of the BWC crown is their second in school history after being co-champions in 1994. Hawai`i has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference for the past 16 years before rejoining the BWC this season. It is UH's sixth overall conference title and first time that they've captured the crown in back-to-back seasons (UH won last year's WAC regular season title). The 2013 senior class have won conference crowns in three of their four seasons at UH and have the highest win percentage of any senior class in UH history at 76.7% with a 171-52 overall record while in conference games, the five seniors have gone 68-15 for a staggering 81.9 winning-percentage. Last year's 2012 senior class previously had held the overall mark at 71.2%.
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