Rainbow Wahine drop Gophers 3-0 in NCAA regional opener

Jessica Iwata // Hawai'i Athletics
Jessica Iwata // Hawai'i Athletics

SEATTLE, Wash.—The No. 20/23 University of Hawai`i softball team (44-11, 20-4 Big West) opened the 2013 NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 shutout over Minnesota (35-18) in the first game of the Seattle Regional at the Husky Softball Stadium on Friday afternoon. Hawai`i Kaia Parnaby fired her 12th shutout of the season and improved to 38-5 overall while shortstop Jessica Iwata led the ‘Bows on offense going 3-for-3 at the plate and two clutch RBI to seal the win. Kelly Majam scored one of UH’s three runs to tie the Big West’s single-season record at 58.

The game was a pitcher’s duel through the first four innings, with neither team able to any damage to the scoreboard. But in the bottom of the fifth, the Rainbow Wahine were finally able to punch in some runs across the plate on a two-out rally. Sharla Kliebenstein got things going with a one-out double drilled to the left-centerfield gap. Kliebenstein was the first UH runner to get to second base against the Golden Gophers. After a looking strike out, Minnesota chose to intentionally walk Kelly Majam to put runners on first and second. But the plan backfired when the next batter, Kayla Wartner, worked her way on by earning a walk to load the bases. Keiki Carlos then hit a hard grounder deep in the hole at short for an infield single to drive in Kliebenstein for the game’s first run. Iwata followed with a sharp single up the middle to score both Majam and pinch runner Kiani Wong from third and second respectively.

For Iwata, it marked the third time that she’s tallied a season-high three hits in a game this season and she now has the team-lead with 12 multiple-RBI games.

Majam’s run scored in the inning tied the Big West single-season record. She is now tied with Pacific’s Gina Carbonatto (2007) and UNLV’s Kim Rodina (1995) for the most ever runs scored in a single-season–58. Last season, Majam crossed the plate 57 times, but as a freshman, she scored 81 times.

The three runs was more than enough for Parnaby, who fired her 37th complete game of the season. She spaced four hits with a walk and eight strike outs in seven innings of work. It marked Parnaby’s first NCAA tournament win of her career. She had pitched in both the 2010 and the 2012 tourney, but had never earned that elusive first post-season win.

Minnesota’s ace Sara Moulton also tossed a complete game, giving up three runs on six hits with two walks and six strike out in six innings of work. She fell to 31-11 overall this season.

Hawai`i advances to face No. 11 seed Washington on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. (PT) after the Huskies held off Portland State 2-1 in Friday’s second game of the Regional.

*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*

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