HPU softball will host Super Regional
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Hawai'i Pacific University softball team has survived its first weekend of postseason competition, but its next test is right around the corner.
The Sea Warriors (44-7) went 3-1 over the weekend, when they played host to the NCAA Division II West Sub-Regional at Howard A. Okita Field on the school's Windward campus in Kāne'ohe. HPU, the third-ranked team in the nation by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, beat Central Washington in the regional final Sunday to earn the right to host Chico State in a Super Regional Friday and Saturday.
The best-of-three series begins with Friday's 2 p.m. game. The teams will play at 11 a.m. Saturday and again at 1:30 p.m. if necessary.
"We never thought that we would be in this position: To be able to host a Super Regional," HPU coach Bryan Nakasone said after Sunday's win. "It's been an enjoyable experience for our players so far and hopefully we can keep it going."
Chico State (32-19) won the other West Sub-Regional in Rohnert Park, Calif., with a 4-3 win over PacWest member Dixie State Sunday in the final. The Wildcats went unbeaten at the Regional and outscored their opponents 16-7 in three games.
"It's so nice that we get to stay home," HPU freshman catcher Nicole Morrow said. "Hosting in general has been so amazing for us. We just finished finals and we can practice on our field, sleep in our own beds, play in front of our home fans and on our home field."
It will be the first meeting between the teams this season. All games will be carried live on the radio on AM 1500.
The winners of the eight Super Regionals advance to the finals, May 27 to 31 in St. Joseph, Mo.
The Pacific West Conference was well-represented at the NCAA Division II Women's National Championships at Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Brigham Young-Hawai'i reached the national title match, where it suffered a 5-1 loss to two-time defending champion Armstrong Atlantic State (Ga.). The Seasiders got their lone win at the No. 3 doubles spot with an 8-2 win by Jenny Chin and Salina Aranda. Armstrong Atlantic won the top two doubles matches and picked up victories at the third, fourth and sixth singles matches to clinch it. The remaining three singles matches went unfinished.
The Seasiders reached the final after edging Lynn (Fla.), 5-4, Friday. They beat Clayton State (Ga.) in the Round of 16 and topped Northwood (Mich.) in a quarterfinal match.
HPU's season also ended at the hands of Armstrong Atlantic. The Sea Warriors lost, 5-0, in the semifinal round Thursday to the top-ranked Pirates. HPU finished the year 21-5.
The Hawai'i Pacific baseball team had a breakthrough season this year. The Sea Warriors earned the first NCAA Regional berth by a PacWest school last week and came within a win of reaching the College World Series.
HPU's only losses at the West Regional at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., came against top-ranked UC San Diego. In Thursday's opening round, HPU had just five hits in a 12-0 loss to the Tritons. However, the Sea Warriors battled back with a 12-3 win over Chico State Friday and reached the final after a 5-4 win over Cal State Dominguez Hills Saturday.
UCSD chased HPU starter Chad Wagner in the fifth after he gave up seven earned runs on nine hits. No. 3 batter Blake Amaral drove in a pair of runs and Kenny Turner scored twice, but the Sea Warriors came up short, 9-4.
HPU ends the season with a 39-12 record.
The PacWest announced its All-Conference baseball and softball teams last week and Hawai'i Pacific, which won league titles in both sports this spring, was well represented on both lists.
HPU placed eight baseball players on the first team and another on the second. Junior hurlers Caelen O'Meara and Michael Greene were named Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year, respectively, and first baseman Kale Sumner shared Freshman of the Year honors with Hawai'i-Hilo's Joshua Wong. HPU's Garrett Yukumoto was named Coach of the Year. Dixie State outfielder Brett Adams and UH-Hilo outfielder Keoni Manago shared Player of the Year honors.
Dixie State and HPU both put four softball players on the first team. Sea Warriors senior Sherise Musquiz was named Pitcher of the Year while catcher Nicole Morrow was chosen Freshman of the Year. Grand Canyon junior outfielder Teddy Barry took both the Newcomer and Player of the Year awards, and HPU's Bryan Nakasone was the Coach of the Year.