UH softball team upsets UC-Riverside to win conference series
UH is 21-15 this year
HONOLULU-The University of Hawai'i softball team (21-15, 2-1 Big West) swept Sunday's doubleheader over UC Riverside to capture their first Big West series of the year. UH's Brittany Hitchcock and Kanani Aina Cabrales both fired complete game shutouts while the offense came through with some timely clutch hits to snap UCR's six-game win streak. Hawai'i pitchers did not give up an earned run in the series. It was a year to the day that UH won its last conference doubleheader at UC Riverside.
Hawai'i 3, UC Riverside 0
The first game of the day picked up where it left off with one out and a 1-1 count to Stephanie Tickmyer at bat in the top of the third. The game had been suspended from the night before due to heavy showers.
Hitchcock stymied the Highlanders, spacing four hits with no walks and five strike outs in seven innings. It was her third shutout and ninth complete game of the season. Hitchcock was very efficient, throwing just 98 pitches-68 for strikes. She improved her record to 10-5 on the season and 1-0 in conference.
UC Riverside's Chelsea Ponce had her 12-game win streak snapped as she lost for the first time since falling to Arizona on Feb. 28. Ponce threw four-plus innings, allowing all three runs on five hits with three walks and two strike outs. Marcilena Valenzuela threw two shutout innings to end the game. She gave up three hits with a walk and a strike out. The loss dropped her record to 21-4 overall and 1-1 in conference.
After both teams left two runners on base in third and top of the fourth innings, it was UH who broke out on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the fourth. UH took an early 2-0 lead. Leisha Li'ili'i led the inning off with a walk and Rachel Lack followed with a single hit back to the pitcher to put runners at first and second. Kiani Wong then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Kristina Akiona then drilled a double into the leftfield corner to drive in both pinch runner Jordan Burton and Lack.
In the fifth inning, Carlos led the frame off with a double to the left-centerfield gap and Kayla Wartner then was hit by the pitch. Heather Morales then hit a fly ball to right for an out, but the throw into the infield was offline to the first baseman and Carlos alertly hustled into third. Li'ili'i then hit a high fly ball to left that fell in front of the fence for a long single that allowed Carlos to score for the 3-0 lead. The 'Bows went on to load the bases but left the runners stranded as relief pitcher Marcilena Valenzuela was able to escape out of the jam.
Hawai'i 1, UC Riverside 0
Aina Cabrales had her second solid game of the series in the circle. She earned her fourth complete game shutout to even her record at 10-10 and 1-1 in the Big West. Aina Cabrales gave up just five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in seven innings of work. In the sixth inning, with a runner at third, Aina Cabrales had arguably the biggest strike out of the season as she fanned Kris DeAnda with pinch runner Samantha Hernandez 60 feet away from tying the score. In Aina Cabrales' two starts in the series, she did not allow an earned run in 14 innings of work. UH gave up two unearned runs in the series opener on Friday night.
Hawai'i loaded the bases in the second with two outs, but UCR's Ponce was able to escape by getting the final out on a grounder to second.
UH posted the lone run of the game in the third inning. Carlos led off with a solid single to rightfield. Kayla Wartner followed by drilling an opposite-field double over the head of the leftfielder. Carlos sprinted all the way around to score from first base.
Ponce got her third start of the series for the Higlanders and threw a complete game as well in the loss. She gave up one run on four hits with three walks and two strike outs in six innings. She faced just 25 batters in the game and retired the last eight batters in a row. With the loss, her record fell to 21-5 overall and 1-2 in conference.
Hawai'i now hits the road to face Cal State Fullerton in a three-game conference series. The two teams will open the series with a single game on Friday, April 3 and a doubleheader slated for Saturday, April 4.