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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 8, 2010

No. 1 Washington too much for UH

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i's Alex Aguirre connects for a two-run homer in the second that gave UH a 2-1 lead against Washington.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Washington's Jenna Clifton slides in safely as Hawai'i catcher Katie Grimes tries to block the ball in the fourth inning.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Danielle Lawrie, as predictable as the Seattle weather, yesterday pitched top-ranked Washington to an 8-4 softball victory over Hawai'i in the championship game of the Bank of Hawai'i Invitational.

Although the game was played in Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium, the Huskies, as the higher seed, were designated as the "home" team.

And Lawrie felt at ease, conquering the rain and the Rainbow Wahine's two two-run homers, to improve to 13-0.

"We're used to (the rain)," said Lawrie, a reference to Seattle's average annual rainfall of 154 days. "It's not like it's anything different. We're in the rain so much. But I wanted to get a little bit of a tan here. When you come to Hawai'i, you don't want to see the rain."

Washington is the defending national champion, and the right-handed Lawrie was the 2009 national player of the year.

In her first two outings of this four-team tournament, Lawrie did not allow a run in 15 innings, including Saturday night's 1-0 victory over UH in eight innings.

Of that game, in which she struck out seven of the final nine batters she faced, Lawrie was admittedly disappointed.

"I didn't want a repeat of (Saturday) night," Lawrie said. "I don't think anybody did. We took (Saturday) night's win for what it was. We wanted to bring a different attitude."

The Rainbows defeated East Carolina, 6-4, earlier yesterday to advance to the title game. There had been concern because the Rainbows were 1-6 against nationally ranked teams.

But the Rainbows got off to a strong start when left fielder Alex Aguirre rocketed a two-run homer for a 2-1 lead in the second.

Lawrie remained composed.

"I'm a fifth-year senior now," Lawrie said. "I can't play the immature pitcher game."

She mixed her pitches, relying on a curve, riser and a changeup that was a chiropractor's worst nightmare. And when the Mānoa mist thickened, she kept requesting new balls.

"I took it one pitch at a time," Lawrie said. "If you have the rain, you have the rain. Obviously, I don't like my hair getting wet. But you have to suck it up."

UH coach Bob Coolen said the key to Lawrie's and Washington's success was the ability to focus.

"She goes out on the mound knowing what she's going to do, and visualizing it, and then doing it," Coolen said. "I tell my players all of the time: 'These teams go out on the field and they've already won the game in their minds. They just go out and play it to see what the score is going to be.' "

Of his team, Coolen said: "They don't have anything in their minds except the elation of a 2-1 ballgame in the top of the second. And that was it."

And then in the fourth, it all unraveled for the Rainbows.

With runners on first and second, third baseman Melissa Gonzalez fielded a bunt, then threw the ball past first baseman Amanda Tauali'i.

Later, with runners at the corners, catcher Katie Grimes tried to throw out a would-be base stealer at second. But shortstop Jessica Iwata did not cover the bag, and the ball sailed into center field.

Then, again with runners at the corners, Tauali'i fielded a grounder down the first-base line. Tauali'i lofted a throw over the batter's helmet that was too high for Grimes to tag out the runner at the plate.

The Huskies ended up ousting UH starting pitcher Stephanie Ricketts, who did not induce an out from the four batters she faced in the fourth inning.

Kaia Parnaby yielded a two-run homer to cap the Huskies' seven-run inning.

"We just don't go over what we practice," Coolen said. "That's what I said to them after the game."

Coolen said the Rainbows have four plays involving situations in which a grounder is hit with runners at the corners. Coolen said the best option would have been for Tauali'i to tag out the batter, then throw home.

Of the mental errors, Coolen said: "We just freaked out. It's just not healthy. Then the pitchers get that look on their face that panic look because no matter what they do, nothing is going right."

Dara Pagaduan hammered a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh, but that was not nearly enough for the Rainbows.

Not against Lawrie, who struck out nine and issued only two walks.

"It really wasn't my best outing, to be completely honest," Lawrie said. "Hawai'i is a great hitting team. They capitalized on pitches I missed. The biggest thing was our offense really got going."