Rainbow Wahine split final day at Easton Desert Classic

Heather Morales / Hawai'i Athletics
Heather Morales / Hawai'i Athletics

LAS VEGAS, Nev.—The University of Hawai’i softball team splits its doubleheader on the final day of the Easton Desert Classic on Sunday afternoon. Hawai’i fell to Nevada in their first game, 11-2 but the ‘Bows bounced back to defeat Utah, 11-7 in their tourney finale. Hawai’i snapped the Utes four-game win streak coming into the game at the Stephanie Lynn Craig Softba  Complex. The Rainbow Wahine finished their second tournament of the season with a 4-2 record in Las Vegas and a 7-4 overall record.

Nevada 11, Hawai’i 2 (5 innings)

Both teams were scoreless in the first inning, but in the second, Hawai’i started to struggle on defense. UH got the first out on a pop-out to short, but an error on the shortstop and a walk put runners at first and second. Morales then fanned Nevada’s No. 7 hitter but Nikki Orozco followed with a three-run home run to centerfield. The Wolf Pack went on to score six more runs on an RBI single by Karley Hopkins; back-to-back doubles by Jasmine Jenkins and Caylin Campbell; and an RBI single by Sara Parsons.

The Rainbow Wahine got one run back in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by Kristina Akiona to centerfield. It was the second home run of the season for the sophomore shortstop.

Hawai`i added another run on Keiki Carlos‘ solo home run that started the third inning. It was Carlos’ first homer of the season and the eighth of her career. UH kept things going in the frame. Leisha Li`ili`i legged out a bunt single to the pitcher and Alyssa Villalpando hit a single to center. After a pop-up to third, Jazmine Zamora collected UH’s fourth hit in the inning with a single to right to load the bases with one out. But, Nevada then lifted starting pitcher Megan Dortch for reliever McKenna Isenberg. Isenberg came in and snuffed out the rally with back-to-back looking strike outs to end the inning.

Loie Kesterson entered in the circle in relief of Morales. Kesterson retired the first six batters she faced, but in the fifth, the Wolf Pack tacked on two more runs on an RBI-double to right by Danielle Wiltz and an RBI-single to center by Hopkins to put the game away, 11-2 in five innings.

All three of Hawai’i’s pitchers threw against Nevada. Morales fired the first two innings, allowing nine runs—all unearned—on six hits with three walks and two strike outs. Kesterson threw 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and Carlos closed the game getting the final out in the fifth inning.

Nevada’s starter Dortch threw the first 2.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and a strike out. Isenberg (3-0) earned the win throwing 2.2 innings of shut out ball with six strike outs and no walks.

Nevada imroved to 8-2 overall this season and have won six of their last seven games.

Hawai’i 11, Utah 7

The Rainbow Wahine (7-4) rebounded after their five inning loss to Nevada with an 11-7 win over Utah that snapped their four-game win streak coming into the game.

UH’s Loie Kesterson earned her first complete-game win of the season, giving up seven runs on six hits with two walks and three strike outs in seven innings.

Hawai`i fell behind early 0-3 in the second inning, but answered right back by posting four runs in the top of the third off of a solo home run by freshman centerfielder Lindsey Willmon and a three-run home run by sophomore third baseman Alyssa Villalpando to leapfrog the Utes, 4-3 on the scoreboard.

Utah (6-4) tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the frame as the Utes tallied an unearned run off an RBI-single by Bella Secaira.

Hawai`i see-sawed back into the lead in the fifth when Sharla Kliebenstein drove in Jazmine Zamora from second base with an RBI double to leftfield.

Then, in the top of the seventh inning, Hawai’i capitalized on two Utah errors to score six runs in their final at bat. The inning was highlighted by back-to-back home runs by Willmon and Wartner. For Willmon, her second homer of the game was a three-run bomb to centerfield. She now has four home runs on the season. Wartner followed by launching her first round-tripper of the season with an opposite-field shot to left. UH led Utah, 11-4 after six-and-a-half innings.

But Utah would not go down easy, they scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh on a three-run home run by Marissa Mendenhall.

Utah’s Kayce Nieto suffered the loss, dropping her record to 3-4. She gave up nine runs on 11 hits with two walks and three strike outs. Sammy Cordova finished the game, getting the final three outs after giving up two runs on three hits.

Hawai`i returns home to host three straight tournaments, beginning with the Bank of Hawaii Invitational from Feb. 20-23. San Jose State, North Carolina and St. Mary’s

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