RIVERSIDE, Calif.—The University of Hawai’I softball team opened their Big West season with a series sweep over UC Riverside, taking both games of Saturday’s doubleheader in come-from-behiond fashion, 8-7 and 4-1. Hawai’i improved to 18-14 overall and 3-0 in conference while the Highlanders fell to 19-17 and 0-3 in BWC action. Freshman Heather Morales and sophomore Loie Kesterson both earned complete game wins while the offense was highlighted by home runs by Sharla Kliebenstein, Leisha Li’ili’i and Kayla Wartner. Li’ili’i was responsible for knocking in what proved to be the winning run in the both games with an RBI-double in the first game and a solo home run in the second. Hawai’i has shown their resiliency on this roadtrip, posting come-back wins in four of its five games this past week.
Hawai’i 8, UC Riverside 7
Box Score (html)
The Rainbow Wahine came back from four runs down to defeat the Highlanders in the second game of the three game series. The ‘Bows were down 7-3 through the first three innings before starting to chip away at their defict–scoring one run in the fourth, two in the fifth, and single runs in the sixth and seventh innings for the win. Hawai’i overcame a season-high five errors to defeat UCR. Morales earned her second complete game win of the week, giving up seven runs—one of which was earned—on eight hits with six walks and three strike outs.
Hawai’i led the game off by posting three runs in the top of the first. Keiki Carlos started the rally-on-two with a double to rightfield. UCR then walked both Li’ili’i and Wartner to load the bases full of ‘Bows. Carlos scored the first run on a wild pitch, moving Li’ili’i and Wartner into scoring position. Kliebenstein then drove in both runners with a single through the rightside of the infield to give UH an early 3-0 lead.
The Highlanders answered in the bottom of the first to score two runs. Dionne Anderson led off with a single bup the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Karina Romero. UCR then got back-to-back RIB doubles by Natalie Sanchez and Haley Harris to make the score 3-2 in favor of UH.
UCR then erupted for five runs and batted around the order in the bottom of the second. The Highlanders capitalized on two UH errors and racked up four hits in the frame. Taylor Wright led the inning off with a single through the leftside of the infield. Kris DeAnda then laid down a bunt, but on the play the defense tried to get the runner at second unsuccessfully to put runners at first and second with no outs. Anderson executed a sacrifice bunt to first to push both runners into scoring position and Romero walked to load the bases. Sanchez then hit a grounder to second. But on the play UH committed two errors—fielding on the second baseman and throwing by the rightfielder that allowed all three runs to score. A ground out to second pushed Sanchez to third and she scored on an RBI single to center by Ashley Ercolano. Later, Ercolano scored on an RBI single by Wright to give the Highlanders a 7-3 lead. Ercolano’s hit loaded the bases for the second time in the inning, but Morales was able to fan DeAnda with a swinging strike out to end the inning and the rally.
Hawai’I then started their comeback. The ‘Bows got one run back in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Lindsey Willmon to drive in Sarina Jaramillo from third—who had reached on a walk and went to third on a pair of illegal pitches.
Then in the top of the fifth, Hawai’I trimmed their deficit to just one run after Kliebenstein launched a two-run home run to centerfield with Wartner on base with her second walk. It was Kliebenstein’s second home run in as of the season and the 34th of her career.
Hawai’i caught up with the Highlanders to tie the game in the sixth at 7-7. Carlos led the inning off with a single through the leftside of the infield. She moved to third on a hit to the right-centerfield gap by Li’ili’i. Carlos then knotted the game as she scored as a result of an illegal pitch called on UCR’s pitcher Sophie Slagle.
Then in the top of the seventh, Zamora led the inning off with a single to left. After a line-out to short, Li’ili’i came through with a clutch, opposite-field double to the left-centerfield gap to score Zamora to give the ‘Bows an 8-7 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Morales got the first two outs on an unassisted ground out to first and a ground out to third. But Anderson was plunked and then stole second to put the tying run in scoring position. But UH got the final out on a fly out to right to end the game.
Alyssa Razo started the game, but was only able to get two outs in the first inning before giving up three runs on two hits with two walks and a strike out. Sophie Slage went the rest of the way and suffered the loss dropping her record to 5-5. She gave up five runs on eight hits with seven walks and five strike outs in 6.1 innings of work
Hawai’i 4, UC Riverside 1
Box Score (html)
The ‘Bows found themselves trailing 1-0 after the Highlanders scored a single run in the third inning. NIcolette Lujan led off with a single to right and advanced to third on a fielding error on the rightfielder. After a ground out to short, Anderson hit a grounder to short but the throw home didn’t catch Lujan at the plate and UCR went up 1-0.
Hawai`i tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth on an RBI-single by Zamora that drove in Matagiese from second.
Then, in the top of the sixth, UH got back-to-back solo home runs from Li’ili’i and Wartner to take the lead. Both shots were of the opposite field variety for the pair of southpaws, blasting it over the left-centerfield fence. For Li’ili’i, it was her team-leading ninth home run of the season and 32nd of the junior’s career. It marked Wartner’s fourth of the season and 21st of her career. It also marked Wartner’s third homer of the road trip. UCR then lifted starting pitcher Slagle for Razo. Kliebenstein then kept things going by drawing a walk. She promptly stole second and then moved to third on a groundout to short. She then scored UH’s fourth run of the game on a passed ball. UH led 4-1 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Kesterson improved to 10-5 on the season and 2-0 in conference. She gave up just one unearned run while spacing six hits with a walk and two strike outs. It marked Kesterson’s third straight complete game win on the roadtrip.
Slagle suffered her second loss of the day, dropping her record to 5-6. She gave up three runs on four hits with four walks in five-plus innings of work. Razo tossed the last two innings, giving up one run on one hit with a walk.
Hawai’i returns home to face Cal State Fullerton in a three-game conference series starting on Friday, April 4 at 6:00 pm. The series will conclude with a double-header on Saturday, April 5 beginning at 2:00 p.m.
*Courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*