Rainbow Wahine fall to #25 BYU in Vegas

Nikki Lopez // Hawaii Athletics

LAS VEGAS, Nev.—The University of Hawai’i softball team (2-2. 0-0 Big West) fell in the opener of the DeMarini Desert Classic to No. 25 BYU, 7-5 on Thursday night at Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev. Hawai’i’s Heather Cameron launched her first career home run while Sarah Muzik, Nicole Lopezand Bree Soma all tallied two hits apiece to lead the UH offense.

The Rainbow Wahine jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Danielle Garcielita led off the home half with a single to shortstop. She moved to second on an illegal pitch and then scored on a Muzik single that was laced up the middle. Muzik was later picked off at second, but Nicole Lopez kept things going with a single to centerfield. Heather Morales then pushed Lopez to second on a groundout to the pitcher and Callee Heen followed by notching her fourth RBI of the season with a single to centerfield to drive in Lopez from second. On the play, Heen tried to stretch her single into a double and was erased at second on a good throw from the centerfielder to end the inning.

BYU lifted starting pitcher Arissa Paulson and brought in their ace, McKenna Bull, to start the second inning. Hawai’i however kept things rolling on offense. After a strikeout, Soma reached first on an opposite-field single to left. Heather Cameron then blasted her first career home run over the leftfield fence to give UH a quick 4-0 lead.

The Cougars, however, responded by erupting for five runs in the third to overtake the ‘Bows, 5-4. Lexi Tarrow led off with a single to third and then scored on an RBI-double to the left-centerfield gap by Rylee Jensen. Later, Ashley Thompson drove in Jensen from third on a groundout to short. With two outs, BYU continued the inning with a walk and a single before Caitlyn Alldredge lifted a three-run home run to left to give BYU their first lead of the game heading into the bottom of the third.

The ‘Bows answered back in the bottom of the third, knotting the score at 5-5. Lopez led the frame off with an infield single to sort. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt executed by Morales. On the play, Lopez hustled into third on the throw. Heen then drove Lopez in with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. Both Heen and Cameron lead UH through four games with five RBI on the season.

BYU see-sawed back into the lead in the top of the fourth. After allowing a leadoff walk to McKenzie St. Clair to begin the fourth inning, Hawai’i’s Dana Thomsen came in for Hitchcock in the pitching circle to make her first Rainbow Wahine appearance of her career. St. Clair went to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a wild pitch. Jensen then got a hit up the middle to score St. Clair from third to take a 6-5 lead. The inning ended though with Thomsen getting a swinging strike out and Cameron gunning out the runner trying to steal second.

The Cougars increased their lead to 7-5 on an RBI single up the middle by Tarrow which drove in Brooke Vander Heide. Later, BYU loaded the bases with one out but UH’s rightfielder Chardonnay Pantastico made a diving catch and popped up to throw to second to double off the runner for a double play thus thwarting another BYU rally.

Hawai’i starting pitcher Hitchcock suffered the loss, allowing six runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout in three-plus innings. Thomsen came in relief of Hitchcock and fired the final four innings, allowing a run on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in her UH debut.

Paulson threw the first inning, allowing two runs on four hits. Bull earned the win in relief, throwing the last six innings. Bull allowed three runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

The Rainbow Wahine had runners on in every inning, except the final frame. UH scored in the first three innings, but were held off the scoreboard in the final four frames. Hawai’i’s 11 hits was the most since last year when the ‘Bows had 11 in a 7-6 win over North Dakota State on March 12, 2016.

The DeMarini Desert Classic continues on Friday with Hawai’i playing a doubleheader at two different venues. UH will first take on former Western Athletic Conference rival, San Jose State at Eller Media Stadium in Las Vegas at 8:00 am HT. The ‘Bows will then head to the Stephanie Lynn Craig Softball Park to battle Texas State at 12:30 pm HT.

#HawaiiSB

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