After being denied a postseason place last year, the HPU softball
team is back to avenge the injustice. The 2008 NCAA Division
II statistical champion made a bold statement by shutting
out the Chaminade Silverswords in its PacWest Conference
opener, 2-0 and 13-0, on Feb. 22.
The Lady Sea Warriors (11-1) defeated the Swords (0-8) at Central
O‘ahu Regional Park in the conference opener by scoring
two runs in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded following
a single and two walks, Sherise Musquiz hit a single down the
third baseline to bring in Tajia Acierto, making it 1-0. HPU’s
next batter Nicole Riviera flied out to centerfield, but brought
in Kozy Toriano before the inning ended.
We had a slow start in the first game,” said Head Coach
Bryan Nakasone. “The pitcher kept us guessing, and we were
too anxious, but we pulled [the win] out.”
Courtney Kessell, last season’s PacWest Pitcher of the
Year, claimed the win, after seven full innings with four strikeouts.
In the nightcap, HPU jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning
and secured the win early. The Lady Sea Warriors picked up two
more runs in the second inning, but the bats really connected
in the third, with a home run and grand slam by two HPU freshmen.
Breanne Patton launched a ball over the right field fence to
bring in two runners. Six batters later, with the bases loaded,
Maile Kim hit a grand slam over center field to seal the victory.
Although the announcer mistakenly identified Kim as Krystal Plunkett
after the grand slam, Kim was all smiles walking into the dugout.
HPU would score one more run in the fifth inning before the umpire
declared the mercy rule and ended the game.
For the Lady Sea Warriors, Casey Sugihara went 3-for-4 and picked
up two runs and one RBI.
In the second game we played excellently,” said Nakasone. “We
hit the ball well.”
Although Nakasone was pleased with his team’s performance,
he realizes how important conference games are this year. Unlike
the previous season, the PacWest champion will automatically
receive a postseason berth.
We play every game to win, but we must pay more attention to
conference games this season, since the conference champion gets
an automatic bid,” he added.