STOCKTON, Calif.—The No. 20/24 University of Hawai`i softball team (42-11, 19-4 Big West) captured their first outright Big West title in history and received the BWC’s automatic bid to make their 11th NCAA tournament appearance. UH opened with a 3-1 win over Pacific on Saturday and completed the doubleheader sweep with a 5-2 win in the second game. Senior pitcher Kaia Parnaby broke a 26-year old Big West record as she notched her 26th win of the season in the opener, while freshman Loie Kesterson came through with her second straight, complete-game win in the second game of the day.
Hawai`i was co-Big West champions with UNLV in 1994, which was UH’s first conference title in program history. UH went on to win four Western Athletic Conference titles during their 16 years in the WAC in 2003, ’07, ’10, and last year, 2012. This is the first time that UH won back-to-back conference championships in school history and the 2013 senior class has now won a conference title in three-of-four seasons at UH.
Hawai`i 3, Pacific 1
Box Score (html)
Parnaby fired her 36th complete game of the season, giving up one run on six hits with no walks and five strike outs. She passed Cal Poly Pomona’s Rhonda Wheatley’s single-season win record of 35. Parnaby is also now just two strike outs from tying former UH great, Brooke Wilkins, for the Big West and UH single-season strike out record of 324. Currently, Parnaby stands at 322 in 2013.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard first, posting one run in the bottom of the second. Taylor Petty led off with a single to short and worked her way around to score on an RBI-single to right by Alex Steinmehl with two outs. Pacific led 1-0 after two innings of play.
UH responded with a run of their own in the top of the third. Kelly Majam led the inning off with a sharp single up the middle. She moved to second on a walk to Kayla Wartner and both runners moved up into scoring position on a passed ball. Keiki Carlos then hit a sacrifice fly to right-centerfield to score Majam from third. Pacific got the second out when Wartner strayed off second and was picked off by Pacific’s catcher Amy Moore at second for the second out and Dani Bonnet, the Tigers’ starting pitcher got the final out on a swinging strike out.
Hawai`i took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth. Jessica Iwata drew a one-out walk. Leisha Li`ili`i then roped a pitch to deep centerfield, but Pacific’s centerfielder caught the ball at the fence for the second out. But, Jazmine Zamora followed with a first-pitch home run blast over the leftfield fence. It was Zamora’s sixth homer of the season and third in as many games.
Parnaby then bore down to retire the next four straight batters and ended the game herself when she caught a soft liner and tossed to first for the game-ending double play.
The Tigers’ Bonnet also threw a complete game in the loss. She gave up three runs on five hits with four walks and six strike outs.
Hawai`i 5, Pacific 2
Box Score (html)
Hawai`i overcame an early 1-0 deficit with a four-run, two-out third inning rally to overtake the Tigers for the win. UH’s Kesterson fired her second straight complete game win, giving up two runs on eight hits with two walks and three strike outs in seven innings of work.
For the second straight game, Pacific jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Megan Hom led off the game with a single. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Megan Foglesong and later scored with two outs on a single by Taylor Petty.
UH fourth back in the third, tallying four runs all on a two-out rally. Wartner started things with a walk and Carlos followed with a two-run home run lifted to leftfield. It marked her seventh home run of her rookie season. Iwata kept things going with a double to right-centerfield and Li`ili`i added a single to put runners at first and third. Zamora then cleared the bases with a double off the left field fence to give UH a 4-1 lead.
The Tigers got one run back in the bottom of the frame on an RBI-double by Foglesong to score Alexi Anderson who had reached earlier in the inning with a single. The score was 4-2 after three complete innings.
Both Hawai`i and Pacific loaded the bases in the top and bottom of the fourth, but both efforts were stymied and went scoreless. UH again loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, and again were held off the scoreboard with Pacific coming through on defense.
In the game, UH left 10 runners on base while the Tigers left nine.
In the top of the seventh, UH added an insurance run on a solo shot over the centerfield fence by Li`ili`i. It marked her 12th homer of the year and 22nd of the sophomore’s career.
Pacific’s Carly Mortensen also threw seven innings in a losing effort. She gave up five runs on eight hits with seven walks and three strike outs.
The two teams will conclude their regular season with a single game on Saturday with the first pitch scheduled for 12:00 p.m. It will be the final regular season game for UH’s five seniors—Tara Anguiano, Brynne Buchanan, Jessica Iwata, Kelly Majam, and Kaia Parnaby.