Starting the day atop the Pacific West Conference, Jaime Wallin had told her softball team to expect every team’s best shot.
Notre Dame de Namur provided the tough test Wallin had anticipated with a first-game victory, but the Vulcans rebounded to finish the day where they started: in first place, though now they share the lead.
Kristina Victa finished a combined 5-for-8 with four runs scored, and the junior contributed to her team’s seven-inning hit parade in the second game Saturday as UH-Hilo beat the Argonauts 9-1 to salvage a doubleheader in Belmont, Calif.
Notre Dame de Namur stunned UH-Hilo (24-14, 15-5 Pacific West Conference) 10-9 in the opener on Mary Ortega’s walk-off, three-run home run with one out in the seventh off Ashley Nelson.
“We have a bull’s-eye on our backs,” Wallin said. “Nobody is going to take us lightly.”
The Vulcans had all the fun in the seventh inning of Game 2, stringing together nine hits to blow open a tight game. Asha Prithviraj led off the inning with a double, and by the time the senior first baseman drove in a run with a single in her next at-bat, UH-Hilo had scored seven times.
Brittany Huff, Victa and Colleen Aubrey had RBI singles, Emily Greene collected a two-run single, and Brandi Wilson plated a run with a double.
UH-Hilo cleaned up its play in the field in back of Nelson, who went the distance and allowed only an unearned run, seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts.
“We made some good adjustments, especially in the field,” Wallin said, alluding to her team’s six errors in Game 1. “We weren’t ready to play in the field physically or mentally. We didn’t have the intensity we needed.”
Aubrey was 2-for-4 with a three-run double and four RBIs in the first game, and Greene was 2-for-4 with a two-run single. Usually when the Vulcans score nine runs in back of ace Vanessa Salinas, that’s plenty enough. But the fielding miscues were part of her undoing as she allowed six runs — two earned — eight hits and two walks with a strikeout in five innings.
Nelson did the same in the seventh to Ortega, who finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Shay Shibata was 4-for-5 and scored four runs for the Argonauts (17-12, 11-7).
Still, UH-Hilo heads to Dominican, Calif., on Monday tied for first place in the PacWest with Grand Canyon. Dixie State (16-6) is percentage points behind. Hillary Ruddick got the win in the first game despite giving up two runs in an inning of relief. Starter Shelby Reali was the Game 2 loser.
Cal Baptist 22-12,
The Lancers erupted for 11 runs in the bottom of the first inning in Game 1 and never looked back to complete at four-game sweep in Riverside, Calif.
In all, the Lancers (21-9, 14-2 Pacific West Conference) connected for three home runs and 37 hits on the afternoon.
“This is a good ballpark to hit in, and this team can really hit,” UH-Hilo coach Joey Estrella said. “Not the way we wanted to end the road trip.
Dane Kinoshita (1-4) failed to get an out in the first game for the Vulcans (7-29, 7-23), allowing Blair Moore’s three-run home run and a two-run double to Zach Esquerra.
Esquerra added a two-run homer in the fifth off Tyler Takata and finished with four RBIs and three runs scored, and he tacked on his 10th home run of the season and three more RBIs in the second game.
Moore and Ryan Cathers did damage in both games. Moore combined to go 4-for-8 — including two doubles in the second game — while Cathers was 5-for-7 with six RBIs.
Cody Wetherbee (2-0) worked four innings of scoreless relief to get the victory in the first game
Kinoshita faced 10 batters, allowing 11 runs on seven hits and four walks.
Ryan Fukunaga and John Abreu opened the third with singles, and Sam Kim hit a sacrifice fly to produce UH-Hilo’s run.
Tyler Nitahara was a bright spot for the Vulcans, going 2-for-3 in the first game and finishing with three hits on the day. The senior catcher has hit safely in 10 of the last 11 games, going 17 of 37 to raise his average to .330.
“He’s really seeing the ball right now and hitting well,” Estrella said.
Gavin Kinoshita (1-4) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts in four innings in the Game 2 loss.
Winning pitcher Jon Bengard (6-0) struck out six in five shutout innings.
tied for 51st place
Jamie Hall carded a 3-over 73 in the final round and led the Vulcans in a tie for 51st at the U.S. Intercollegiate at Stanford University Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.
The only Division II team in the field, UH-Hilo finished in last at 38-over 878, six strokes behind Pepperdine.
Hall was at 7-over 217, while teammate Corey Kozuma (75) was another shot back in a tie for 53rd.
Texas Christian’s Paul Barjon (67) got to 11-under and pocketed medalist honors with a three-shot victory, while Stanford (817) beat out the Horned Frogs by four shots to win the team title.
Chris Shimomura had UH-Hilo’s best round of the the day and finished at 10-over, Dalen Yamauchi (76) was 14-over, and Kyten Littel (75) was another seven shots back.