By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Kylee Bufton and Courtney Hine combined for eight hits and drove in sevens runs to power top-seeded Dixie State to a 14-5 five-inning TKO win over fourth-seeded University of Hawaii at Hilo in the first round of a NCAA Division II West Regional on Friday.
The four-team, double-elimination tournament is being held in St. George, Utah. In the other first round game, third-seeded Cal State Dominguez Hills fought past second-seeded Sonoma State 1-0.
Action continues today with Cal State Dominguez Hills (35-21) vs. Dixie State (38-12) at 9 a.m., Sonoma State (36-20) vs. UHH (39-18) at 11:30 a.m. and the Dixie State/Cal State Dominguez Hills winner vs. the Sonoma State/UHH winner at 2 p.m.
On Sunday, two games are scheduled at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (championship game).
Bufton went 4 for 4, including a two-run homer, and had four runs batted in while Hine was 4 for 4 and had three RBIs to lead the Red Storm’s 16-hit attack. Teammates Jaelle Judkins, Anna Cue and Marla Reiter each added two hits.
Hard-hitting Dixie State stormed back from a 3-0 deficit in the bottom of the first inning with five runs, then had a solo run in the second, three in the third and five in the fifth, including Bufton’s two-run shot.
UHH added two runs in the fourth to close out its scoring.
“Dixie State did everything right today,” UHH coach Jaime Wallin said. “They kept battling and battling and we couldn’t keep pace. We struggled with our pitching consistency and often got behind on the count. You can’t do that with a good hitting team, they’re going to eventually take advantage of that situation.
“I think we got a little shellshocked after they came back in the bottom of the first inning and put up a five-spot on us.”
Junior shortstop Rebecca Lee led the Vulcans with two of their seven hits. Teammate Melanie Morelos had a hit and two RBIs.
Michelle Duncan went the five-inning distance for the Red Storm to earn the win. She allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking two.
Freshman Hannah Peterson started for UHH and lasted only 1 1/3 innings against Dixie State. She allowed six runs on six hits and was followed on the mound by sophomore Ashley Nelson (3 inning, 8 runs, 10 hits).
Peterson took the loss.
“Sonoma State is a good team, with power and speed,” Wallin said. “We think they have a couple of weaknesses and we’re going to talk about our pitching tonight and see what we want to do (today) against them.”
UHH 300 20 — 5 7 1
DSC 510 35 — 14 16 1