Vulcans start pivotal tourney with 3-0 start
The University of Hawaii at Hilo used stingy pitching and timely hitting to sweep three games in the first day of the 12th annual Mizuno Tournament of Champions on Friday in Turlock, Calif.
It’s the first time the Vulcans have ever finished with a 3-0 record on the first day of the event.
The 21-team NCAA Division II women’s collegiate softball tournament runs through Sunday and is hosted by Cal State Stanislaus. It includes the top teams from the West Region that will continue to battle for regional berths through the rest of the regular season.
The Jaime Wallin-coached Vulcans (31-14 overall, 3-0 TOC) beat Cal State East Bay 5-0 in their opener Friday and then topped Northwest Nazarene University of Idaho 5-1 in the afternoon. UHH shut out San Francisco State 4-0 in a night game at breezy Pedretti Park.
“It’s a good start to the tournament,” Wallin said. “Our pitching was good and we hit OK, with some timely hits. But our hitting needs to get better. And defensively, we’ve still got to clean some things up.
“We’re confident going into tomorrow’s (today’s) games, but we know it’s going to be a battle and we’re going to have to bring our best game. We’re playing two of the stronger teams in the CCAA in UC San Diego and Cal State Dominguez Hills.”
In Friday’s opener, sophomore lefty Ashley Nelson hurled a four-hit shutout as the Vulcans blanked Cal State East Bay 5-0. In picking up the win, Nelson (11-8) struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in a strong seven-inning performance.
Sophomore Colleen Aubrey and freshman Brandi Wilson each had two hits, including a double, to lead the Vulcans’ offense. Wilson, junior Arren Nunez and sophomore Emily Greene each drove in a run. Junior Rebecca Lee added a double.
Taryn Thomas was the lone Cal State East Bay batter to pair hits.
Kelsey Cairns (2-1) went the distance for Cal State East Bay (11-23) and took the loss. She allowed nine hits and five runs.
In Game 2, freshman Hannah Peterson (4-1) pitched a three-hitter as the Vulcans defeated Northwest Nazarene University 5-1.
Peterson went the distance to earn the win. She struck out two and didn’t walk a batter in a rock-solid effort.
Lee cracked a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to highlight the win. Peterson and NNU’s Noelle Wright were locked in a pitchers’ duel, with UHH leading 2-1 going into the seventh, before Lee’s three-run shot.
Lee had two hits, including her homer, and three RBIs to lead the Vulcans’ seven-hit attack. Aubrey added two hits, including a double, and an RBI.
Michelle Crumbaker had two of NNU’s three hits off Peterson.
Wright went the distance for Northwest Nazarene (5-31) and took the loss. She gave up seven hits and five runs.
In the late game, UHH fought past San Francisco State 4-0 behind the steady pitching of junior ace Vanessa Salinas (16-5).
The Vulcans scored a run in the bottom of the first innings against the Gators (13-23) and added three in the third.
That was more runs than Salinas needed as she scattered five hits and recorded her sixth shutout of the season. She struck out four and didn’t walk a Gator.
Jenny Obbena (0-3) took the loss.
Lee led UHH with two hits and scored two runs. Nunez added a clutch two-run double in the third inning.
Ashley Huff had three of SFS’s five hits off Salinas.
UHH plays UC San Diego at 10:15 a.m. today, followed by a game against Cal State Dominguez Hills at 12:30 p.m. to round out pool play.
Depending on pool records, the tournament teams advance to either gold, silver, bronze, platinum or consolation bracket action on Sunday.
The Vulcans are in Pool D along with Cal Baptist, Chaminade, Dominican and Grand Canyon and competing against Pool C in cross-pool action.
UHH 012 010 1 — 5 9 0
CSEB 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
UHH 100 100 3 — 5 7 1
NNU 100 000 0 — 1 3 3
SFS 000 000 0 — 0 5 2
UHH 103 000 x — 4 5 0
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