By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KAILUA-KONA – Those in attendance at Old Kona Airport Park on Saturday witnessed The Best of Jaime Wallin.
As the University of Hawaii at Hilo coach strolled back to the dugout after the end of one inning, she playfully reminded her team: “We got a softball game out here, people.”
A pinch-hitter was greeted with: “Make me look like a genius.”
After a batter nearly nailed her with a foul line drive, she fired back: “Are you still mad about me because of practice?”
Basically, Wallin is taking the good with the bad at the outset of the season.
She had to deal with more of the latter Saturday as UHH was beaten by Rollins and Western Washington, 1-0 and 9-7, respectively, at the Kona Kickoff Classic.
“If I were hard, hard, hard, and critical, critical, critical, this team doesn’t respond to that,” Wallin said. “Really trying to make then understand the positives, and the areas we need to improve upon.”
One area of concern that popped up for the Vuls (2-2) in the loss to Western Washington was a quad pull suffered by sophomore left-hander Ashley Nelson in the second inning.
The Vikings took advantage of an error to score three unearned runs off Nelson (1-1) before she left after 1 1/3 innings.
They loaded the bases against freshman Hannah Peterson in the third, and Camille DePew cleared them with a double to give Western Washington a 9-2 lead before Peterson, seeing the first action of her college career, settled down.
DePew was 3 for 4 with four RBIs.
In 4 2/3 innings, Peterson allowed six hits and four runs.
“Didn’t want to put Hannah in under those circumstances,” Wallin said. “She did a nice job of hitting her spots her last few innings. Kept them off-balance.”
The highlight of the day for the Vulcans was a three-run home run to left field by sophomore Collette Black that cut the deficit to 9-7 in the fifth. But the Vulcans, who outhit Western Washington 12-8, stranded eight runners on base.
For a team looking for a power source beyond Emily Greene, the homer stroke was a welcome sight for Wallin.
“In the recruiting process, she demonstrated that kind of power,” Wallin said. “I’m excited she’s tapping into that right now.”
Sophomore Colleen Aubrey was 3 for 4 for UHH, Alexis Ramirez finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Brittany Huff was 2 for 3.
Nelson took the loss, allowing two hits and three unearned runs with a walk and strikeout.
Jenna DeRosier pitched a complete game in victory, giving up seven unearned runs and striking out three without walking batter.
Until the second game, pitchers’ duels had been in vogue for UHH at the tournament. Rollins scored the only run of the first game in the top of the first.
Aimee Halpin led off the inning with a double, stole third and scored on Kristie Hoeffer’s groundout.
Two Rollins pitchers combined to outduel Vanessa Salinas, who followed her dazzling debut Friday night with another complete game.
She also mustered the Vulcans’ only hit, a single in the sixth that almost started a game-turning rally.
Stephanie Sullivan (2-0) pitched four hitless innings with three walks and a strikeout to pick up the victory, then Niki Fogle escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when shortstop Jessica Gipson dove to catch a liner off the bat of Black.
Fogle yielded a walk and a hit with three strikeouts to get the save.
Salinas (1-1) has allowed only one run in her first 14 innings of her UHH career. She was touched up for only four hits by Rollins with two walks and four strikeouts.
But it was just one of those days for the Vulcans, who finish the tournament today with games against St. Martin’s (10 a.m.) and Western Washington (12:30 p.m.).
“There were moments today that we played pretty well in each facet of the game,” Wallin said. “Unfortunately, I think where we went wrong was we couldn’t put the three facets of the game together.”
Rollins 100 000 0 – 1 4 2
UHH 000 000 0 – 0 1 2
WWU 000 000 0 – 0 2 3
UHH 001 000 0 – 1 2 0