HONOLULU—The No. 14/20 University of Hawai`i softball team (38-8, 15-1 Big West) opened a pivotal three-game series with a 7-4 win over the second-ranked team in the conference, Long Beach State (30-20, 12-7 BWC). Relief pitcher Loie Kesterson earned the win for the ‘Bows while the offense racked up 12 hits en route to the win.
Kelly Majam led UH off in the first inning by ripping a triple down the first base line into the rightfield corner. Two batters later, Jessica Iwata hit a grounder to short, but the throw was muffed at first allowing Majam to give UH a 1-0 lead after one complete inning.
In top of the second inning, Karli Sandoval was plunked with one out in the inning. She moved to second on an illegal pitch called on UH starter Kaia Parnaby. But the next batter, Sarah Carrasco, hit a fly to Majam in center and she doubled off Sandoval who had drifted off the base to thwart their rally.
The Rainbow Wahine posted two more runs in the third to give them a 3-0 lead. After a ground out to short, Majam drilled an opposite field double to the left-centerfield gap. Kayla Wartner laced a single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home, but Majam advanced and stayed put at third. Carlos then hit a single to left to drive in Majam. Iwata then hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Wartner from third. The ‘Bows then loaded the bases on consecutive hits by Leisha Li`ili`i and Jazmine Zamora, but the Beach got a foul-pop-out to first to end the inning.
LBSU got one run back in the top of the fourth. Shayna Kimbrough led the top of the fourth off with a single to left and a fielding error allowed her to scoot all the way to third. Parnaby then got two outs on a pop-out to third and a ground out to first. Then a scary moment at the RWSS, when Darian Tautalafua hit a solid one-hopper back to Parnaby in the circle that took a high-hop, ricocheted off her glove and hit her in the face. On the play, Kimbrough scored from third. Parnaby had to leave the game and Kesterson came in for her 10th appearance of the year and got the final out of the inning on a ground out to third. Parnaby did not return.
Hawai`i responded with the loss of their ace, by tallying four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Sharla Kliebenstein started things with a walk. After a fly-out to left, Majam drew another walk to put runners at first and second. Wartner then hit a single to right to drive in Kliebenstein from second and on the play the relay throw sailed over the third baseman allowing Majam to score as well. After another fly-out to left, Iwata lifted her sixth home run of the season over the leftfield fence. Li`ili`i kept things going with an opposite-field single through the left-side of LBSU’s infield and Zamora followed with a double to the right-centerfeld gap. Pinch-hitter Alyssa Villalpando was plunked by relief pitcher Christian Carbojal to load the bases. But the Beach escaped without further damage when Kliebenstein lined out to leftfield. UH lead after four complete innings, 7-1.
Long Beach State got one run back in the top of the sixth when Kimbrough scored her second run of the game from third as UH turned a 4-U-3 ground out double play. The Beach added two more runs in the top of the seventh on a home run by Ashley Holmes.
Parnaby was a third of an out away from her 35th win of the season, throwing 3-2/3 innings in the start. She gave up one run on two hits with two strike outs. Her strike out in the first inning made her just the second pitcher in UH history to hit the 300 strike out milestone. She now has 301 this season alone and is chasing fellow Aussie southpaw Brooke Wilkins for the UH and Big West record with 324 single-season strike outs set in 1994. Kesterson came through in the clutch for the ‘Bows, earning her second win of the season throwing the final 3-1/3 innings in relief. She gave up three runs on seven hits.
Long Beach State’s Amanda Hansen took the loss, dropping her record to 9-7. She threw 3.2 innings, allowing all seven runs on 10 hits with two walks and two strike outs. Carbajal threw the final 2.1 innings, holding the ‘Bows scoreless with two hits.
The two teams square off in a series-ending doubleheader on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m.