Rainbow Wahine repeat as champions of Big West


Jazmine Zamora broke a 1-1 tie with two-out, two-run homer in the sixth inning Friday in Stockton, Calif., as the University of Hawaii softball team clinched the Big West Conference championship with a 3-1 win over Pacific in the first game of a doubleheader.

Having won the Western Athletic Conference last season, the Rainbow Wahine won back-to-back conference titles for the first time in school history. On Sunday, they will learn where they will begin the NCAA tournament, which begins May 17.

Hawaii (19-4 Big West, 42-11 overall), which also beat Pacific 5-2 in the second game of the doubleheader, won its conference crown by rallying from a 1-0 deficit in Game 1.

Jessica Iwata drew a one-out walk in the sixth, and after Leisha Liilii flied out to center, Zamora drove a Dani Bonnet pitch over the fence in left to give Hawaii a 3-1 advantage.

That was enough for Rainbow Wahine ace Kaia Parnaby, who retired the side in sixth before giving up a one-out single to Megan Allen in the seventh. But Alex Steinmehl then lined out to Parnaby, who doubled off Allen at first to end the game and give Parnaby her 36th victory — a Big West single-season record.

The senior pitched a six-hitter, striking out five batters and walking four.

Steinmehl had two of the Tigers’ six hits, including an RBI single in the second that gave Pacific (12-11, 28-27) a 1-0 lead.

Hawaii, which managed just five hits against Bonnet — Zamora went 2-for-3 — tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the third.

Kelly Majam singled and advanced to second when Kayla Wartner drew a walk. Both baserunners moved up on a passed ball, and Keiki Carlos’ sacrifice fly plated Majam.

Bonnet also went the distance, striking out six and walking four.

Hawaii’s Loie Kesterson pitched a complete-game eight hitter in Game 2. She struck out three and walked two.

The Rainbow Wahine gave her all the run support she needed in the third, when Keiki Carlos slammed a two-run homer and Zamora added a two-run double for a 4-1 lead.

Zamora finished 2-for-4 while Liilii, who added a solo homer in the seventh, was 3-for-4.

Carly Mortenson went the distance in the circle for the Tigers, allowing five runs on eight hits. She struck out three and walked seven.

At the plate, Pacific’s Megan Foglesong and Alexi Johnson both went 2-for-3.