On Senior Day, Vulcans control their own destiny
The Pacific West Conference softball crown is there for the taking for the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Thanks to a split between Grand Canyon and Dixie State on Friday in Utah, the Vulcans control their own destiny heading into today's regular season ending 1 p.m. home doubleheader against Hawaii Pacific.
"We just need to take care of business," UHH coach Jaime Wallin said.
If the Vulcans (37-17, 23-7 PacWest) can do that against the Sea Warriors (19-11, 30-17), they'll earn the league's automatic berth at regionals, regardless of how the doubleheader between Dixie State and Grand Canyon goes today.
The Red Storm (23-7) fell into a first-place tie with the Vulcans, while the Antelopes (22-8) are a game behind. UHH holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against both teams. With a split today, however, UHH would be vulnerable if either of Dixie or Grand Canyon finished with a sweep.
"It's a busy time for the kids, between juggling finals, moving out of the dorms and such," Wallin said. "But we've talked about continuing to practice the way that we have to put ourselves into this situation. Let's not look back and wonder what could have been. Let's go out and win a title."
But UHH will have to continue to do that without a player that had been its ace all season. Wallin said Vanessa Salinas (19-6, 1.41 ERA) was no longer with the team because of "personal reasons."
Ashley Nelson (13-10, 3.05 ERA) and Hannah Peterson (5-1, 3.46) got wins against Chaminade on April 28, the first games that UHH played without Salinas.
In addition to the down-to-the-wire conference race, today is also Senior Day for Asha Prithviraj and Brittany Spencer, who can stamp their careers with a second postseason appearance. Both were freshmen when UHH last reached regionals in 2010.
"Both of them understand the situation, have a ton of experience and will be hard to replace," Wallin said. "They are both great people and have had academic success."
Prithviraj is set to graduate with a degree in kinesiology May 11.
UHH was ranked seventh in the last West Region rankings, while Hawaii Pacific was ninth. The top eight teams will gain regional invites.
However, the only scoreboard the Vulcans have to worry about today is their own.
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