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by Dayna Kalakau, staff writer

Get ready softball fans, the season is here. HPU women’s softball is back for an action-packed season that is expected to be better than ever. Softball enthusiasts can look forward to a young team full of raw talent and speed, in addition to the power for which the Lady Sea Warriors have traditionally been known.

The Lady Sea Warriors opened their season on Feb. 5 at Sea Warrior Field with a doubleheader against the University of Arkansas-Monticello. HPU split with UA-M, taking the first game 6-5 and losing the second 3-1.

Early in the first game, the Cotton Blossoms took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Becca Tipton hit a grand slam off HPU pitcher, Clerisse Lemke. The Cotton Blossoms would score another run off the Sea Warriors in the third inning, giving them a 5-0 lead.

After trailing 5-1 for the early part of game one, the Lady Sea Warriors came back in the fourth inning with senior Anuhea Young scoring HPU’s first run on an RBI double. The sixth inning would bring the score to 5-3, with two more runs scored on a walk and a wild pitch.

The bases were loaded in the seventh inning after a walk and consecutive hits by HPU’s Krystal Plunkett and Casey Sugihara. Another walk and wild pitch would tie the game, stranding runners on second and third base. Junior Nicole Kalakau came across the plate for the winning run after UA-M pitcher Leah Vaughn threw to first base off a hit from senior Lehua Yap.

“ It was a combination of walks and small hits that won us that game,” said Kalakau. “It was a battle, but I think we did well considering that Arkansas was a really good team. It was nice to see some competition right off the bat.”

HPU did not fare so well in the second game, losing 3-1. Despite an impressive six strikeouts from sophomore pitcher Courtney Kessell, and comparable hitting from junior Jessica Adolph and Sugihara, UA-M’s offense outshined HPU. A combination of opportune hits from the Cotton Blossoms, an RBI single from UA-M’s Meredith Heckel, and a sacrifice fly from UA-M pitcher Kate Brady would give the Cotton Blossoms the lead in the third inning. A sacrifice fly in the sixth inning by senior Kara Wedemeyer would give HPU a run, but the Lady Sea Warriors were unable to come back.

HPU plays on Feb. 10 against BYU-Hawai‘i at Sea Warrior Field. The first pitch is scheduled for noon.

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