By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KAILUA-KONA – Vanessa Salinas looked every bit the former Division I softball pitcher. She also showed some veteran moxie. And her riseball was as advertised.
Not a bad University of Hawaii at Hilo debut.
Salinas threw a two-hit shutout Friday night in a 1-0 victory against BYU-Hawaii and the Vulcans dominated in the circle for a pair of wins to start the season at the Kona Kickoff Classic.
“I think I have a lot of rotation on my ball, a lot of movement, so that’s what really kind of saves me,” said the 5-foot-4 Salinas, a transfer from Fresno City College. “There are a lot of pitchers that throw harder than I do, but I think my movement comes into play.”
Her biggest obstacle at Old Kona Airport Park was a nagging calf cramp that started creeping up in the fourth inning. Perfect through 5 1/3, she allowed a walk, a hit batter and a single before wiggling out of the bases-loaded jam on a strikeout and a flyout.
“I was getting stretched between innings, and it was getting tighter and tighter,” Salinas said. “Kind of a mind-over-matter type thing. I really couldn’t do nothing about it.”
Neither could the Seasiders (0-2). Salinas, who’s pitching at her fourth school and third different college level, yielded the one walk with six strikeouts.
Sophomore Ashley Nelson was almost as good in the opener, allowing only four hits in a complete game as UHH beat St. Martin’s 3-1.
Coach Jaime Wallin likes the different components that each of her pitchers brings to the staff. Nelson’s a left-hander with an unorthodox delivery, junior Alyse Harris delivers power and freshman Hannah Peterson brings location.
And then there’s Salinas.
“I’m a riseball type of pitcher,” she said. “It’s much different than what we have on the squad. Lots of changeups, dropballs, so I definitely bring the riseball aspect.”
She also brings a bit of a different background compared to most of her teammates.
Salinas, 23, left Madera (Calif.) High in 2008 for Division I Utah Valley University. Things didn’t work out there, so she transferred to East Los Angeles College. After a two-year break to work, she ended up at Fresno City for a season.
“It’s a step up (in competition here),” Salinas said, “but I went Division I before. It’s just adjusting to the coaching, the girls, meshing.”
UHH finished with only two hits against Tiffanee Frampton, and didn’t need one to push across a run in the third. Junior Rebecca Lee drew a one-out walk and came all the way around to score when third baseman Tiffany Smith misplayed Kristina Victa’s sacrifice bunt. Lee was 1 for 2, and freshman Kaylie Drew had the Vulcans’ other hit.
Frampton didn’t allow an earned run, walking four and striking out three.
Sophomore Collete Black was 2 for 4 with an RBI single against St. Martin’s (0-2), and sophomores Colleen Aubrey and Emily Greene added run-scoring singles as UHH took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Lee was 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Nelson walked three but struck out seven.
Sam Munger went the distance in the loss, giving up six hits, three runs and two walks with two strikeouts.
In other games Friday, Rollins beat St. Martin’s 4-2 and Western Washington 11-2. Western Washington downed BYU-Hawaii 11-2.
Today, UHH faces Rollins (10 a.m.) and Western Washington (12:30 p.m.).
UHH 002 000 1 – 3 6 0
St. Martins 000 001 0 – 3 6 0
BYUH 000 000 0 – 0 2 3
UHH 001 000 0 – 1 2 0