University of Hawaii at Hilo ace Vanessa Salinas added a new wrinkle to her latest complete-game gem: a power stroke.
The rest of the Vulcans soon followed suit during another sweep of Azusa Pacific on Saturday at UHH softball field.
Salinas homered during a 6-0 victory in the first game, then UHH sweated out a 6-5 victory to cap a dazzling 12-game homestand.
First-place UHH (23-13, 14-4 Pacific West Conference) won for the 13th time in 15 games — including 10 of its past 12 at home.
The last of those 12 was perhaps the most nerve-wracking. With Salinas warming up in the bullpen, starter Ashley Nelson allowed two runs in the seventh but worked out of a jam by stranding the tying run at third.
“I told Ashley that I wasn’t going to take her out,” coach Jaime Wallin said. “We have to learn how to work out of the big situations. It’s important to our development.”
In Game 1, the Vulcans were able to rely on Salinas (13-5), who pitched a four-hit shutout with two strikeouts and a rare walk.
One of Wallin’s disappointments during a sweep Friday against the Cougars (14-12, 6-8) was UHH’s ineffectiveness against right-hander Mariah Worley.
“We talked about it as a staff,” Wallin said. “Our assistant coaches suggested the (batters) need to move up in the batter’s box.”
Salinas did just that when Worley came on in the sixth, and she cranked her first home run of the season to center.
Powered by Emily Greene’s three-run home run in the first inning, her seventh of the season, UHH jumped all over Worley (2-1) in the second game.
“When we saw her come in in Game 1, we moved up and had success hitting the ball,” Wallin said. “That success carried over to the second game. It’s a credit to our coaches and players.”
Shortstop Rebecca Lee finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, left fielder Colleen Aubrey was 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the fourth, and Kristina Victa was 2 for 4.
In a complete game, Nelson (7-7) didn’t walk a batter, allowed 10 hits and five runs with two strikeouts.
In the first game, right fielder Brandi Wilson and second baseman Brittany Huff each collected two hits for UHH, which is set to hit the road for a lengthy road trip to California that will include the Tournament of Champions.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Wallin said.
Salinas lowered her ERA to 1.40, with the help of a home run-saving catch by Victa in center field.
Rita Kim (5-3) took the loss, getting only five outs.
Azusa Pacific 000 000 0 — 0 4 1
UHH 320 001 x — 6 7 0
Azusa Pacific 000 300 2 — 5 10 0
UHH 310 210 x — 6 1 1