For a University of Hawaii at Hilo softball team looking for a spark, Kristina Victa and Rebecca Lee sure did a good job of lighting the fuse.
So much so that Vulcans coach Jaime Wallin made a point of taking the two of them aside Saturday after they had helped UHH end a four-game losing streak in Waimea.
Wallin’s message: If you two can do that more often, this team can go places.
The top-of-the-order batters each collected four hits and UHH broke out of its slump in a big way to back freshman Hannah Peterson in a 12-0 TKO victory against Western Oregon.
The Vulcans, who had only mustered a combined 12 hits in their past four games, pounded 19 to even their record at 11-11 and salvage a 2-4 finish at their round-robin tournament.
For Wallin, it all starts at the top with juniors Victa, a leadoff-hitting center fielder, and Lee, a shortstop who bats in the No. 2 hole.
“Really believe that we’re going to go as far as they go,” Wallin said. “If they struggle, we struggle. If they succeed, we succeed.”
The latter was certainly the case Saturday afternoon.
Victa and Lee combined to score five runs and steal three bases as UHH’s Nos. 1-4 hitters ganged up for 13 hits. Colleen Aubrey was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two stolen bases, and cleanup hitter Emily Greene went 3 for 3, including a double and a pair of run-scoring singles. Lee doubled twice.
Greene’s two-run home run, her fifth of the season, was the lone bright spot for UHH in its 10-2 loss to Missouri Western on Saturday morning.
At that point, UHH faced the possibility of a lost weekend, especially since Western Oregon had already thumped the Vulcans the previous two days.
“Give our team credit,” Wallin said. “They could have (quit), but they didn’t. They responded and showed the way they are capable of playing. They were determined to finish on a high note.”
Peterson shined in her second career start with six shutout innings — a complete game — yielding only five hits and walk with two strikeouts.
“She did a good job of keeping hitters off-balance and pitching to spots,” Wallin said.
Freshman Brittany Huff went 2 for 3 for UHH, and senior Brittany Spencer added a two-run single
Jourdan Williams took the loss for the Wolves (7-10), allowing 11 hits and seven runs in four innings. Lexi Orteza had two hits.
UHH starter Ashley Nelson was roughed up by Missouri Western (11-4) in the morning for 10 hits and 10 runs in five innings. The sophomore walked three and struck out three.
Michelle Stevenson was 2 for 4 with four RBIs for the Griffons. Jackie Bishop beat the Vulcans for the second time in as many days, allowing only two hits, two runs — one earned — with no walks and four strikeouts.
In the other game Saturday, Western Oregon beat Missouri Western 10-1, meaning each team won and lost via TKO on the day.