HONOLULU (UH Athletics) -- The University of Hawai`i softball team launched five home runs and held off San Jose State for an 11-9 win on the opening night of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. Hawai`i's offensive attack was led by Lindsey Willmon, Kaile Nakao, Keiki Carlos, Alyssa Villalpando, and Leisha Li`ili`i who all hit home runs.
UH's Heather Morales (5-2) started the game and later re-entered to earn the win. She threw 6.0 innings, allowing three runs on two hits with nine walks and one strike out. Loie Kesterson lasted an inning, but gave up six runs on four hits with two walks and a strike out.
San Jose State's Berlyn Rippentrop (0-1) came in relief and suffered the loss, giving up three runs on six hits with a walk and two strike outs in three innings of work.
For Hawai`i, Willmon led the home-half of the first inning off with a solo home run over the leftfield fence. It was her fifth home run of the year, and second time that she's jump-started the 'Bows with a solo homer.
In the second, UH batted around the order and scored eight runs with hit three home runs. Villalpando and Kristina Akiona started the rallly getting a single and a double ripped down the leftfield line respectively. Jazmine Zamora then drove in Villalpando on an RBI single up the middle. After a groundout to third, Nakao hit a three-run bomb over the centerfield fence. It was Nakao's second career home run. SJSU then got their second out on a fly ball to center, but a walk to Kayla Wartner brought Keiki Carlos to the plate and she drilled a two-run homer just inside the leftfield foul pole. Li`ili`i kept things going with an opposite-field single to left and Villalpando continued her hot hitting with a two-run shot to center. It was her fourth home run in the last seven games.
SJSU however battled back to score three and six runs in the third and fourth inning respectively. Their offensive output was highlighted by a pair of home runs by Jessica Garcia who accounted for seven of SJSU's nine runs in the game. She hit a three-run homer in the third and a grand slam to tie the game in the fourth, 9-9.
Hawai`i fought back to get two runs off a Li`ili`i home run to right-centerfield that gave UH an 11-9 lead in the fifth inning. It was Li`ili`i's team-leading sixth home run of the season and her 29th of her career.
The Bank of Hawaii Invitational continues on Friday, Feb. 21.
2:00 pm - North Carolina vs. San Jose State
4:00 pm - North Carolina vs. St. Mary's
6:00 pm - Hawai`i vs. St. Mary's