Rainbow Wahine beat Stanford, advance to regional championship
Melissa Gonzalez went 3 for 3, including a three-run home run, to lift Hawai'I to a 6-3 victory today over Stanford and put the Rainbow Wahine in the driver's seat of the NCAA Softball Tournament's Stanford (Calif.) Regional.
Hawai'i (46-13, 2-0 regional) needs one victory tomorrow to reach the Super Regionals. The Rainbow Wahine's opponent will be determined after today's elimination games between Stanford (37-18), Texas Tech and UC Davis. Tomorrow's first game in the double-elimination regional is scheduled for 10 a.m. Hawai'i time.
"It was an exciting game from the beginning," UH coach Bob Coolen said. "The first three innings we score all of our runs. That put pressure on (Stanford)."
The Rainbow Wahine took a 2-0 lead the first inning. Kelly Majam singled up the middle, Jessica Iwata reached on a fielder's choice with Majam going to second and Gonzalez walked to load the bases. After Jenna Rodriguez flied out to right field, Alexandra Aguirre doubled to left-center field to score Majam and Iwata. But Stanford starter Ashley Chinn struck out Kanani Pu'u-Warren and Amanda Tauali'i to end the inning.
Gonzalez hit a two-out, three-run shot to center field after Katie Grimes and Iwata hit singles to give UH a 5-0 lead in the second inning.
Tauali'i hit a two-out homer to right field in the third to give the Rainbow Wahine a 6-0 lead.
"Hawaii is a great hitting team," Chinn said. "I honestly don't remember how the first home run was, but on the second one, I thought I made a decent pitch, but with a team like that, your precision has to be a little more precise."
Stanford closed to 6-2 in the bottom of the third, with Stephanie Ricketts giving up her first three hits of the game. Jenna Becerra singled to left, went to second on a ground out to the pitcher by Sarah Hassman and scored on a single by Alissa Haber. Haber scored on Ashley Hansen's triple.
Maya Burns' RBI triple to right field helped Stanford close to 6-3 in the fourth inning.
Ricketts (26-7) allowed eight hits, struck out one and walked none for the complete-game victory.
"Stephanie got stronger as the game went on," Coolen said. "We did a nice job of staying in that ball game."
Said Ricketts: "I went in not really feeling any pressure or anything like that. Just being relaxed is what worked for me today."