Senior third baseman Nicole Lopez's inside-the-park home run proved to be enough as the University of Hawai‘i softball team (17-7) squeaked past Niagara (0-9) in a 1–0 victory on March 13 at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
“I wasn’t going to hesitate to send Nicole (home),” head coach Bob Coolen said. “We just weren’t hitting that pitcher (sophomore pitcher Karsen Cotton), so we had to make our own things happen.”
The ‘Bows and Purple Eagles struggled to create offense due to strong pitching performances from the starting pitchers. UH freshman Izzy Dino, who improved her record to 7-3 in her five-inning effort, battled against Utah’s Cotton. Between the third and fifth innings, Dino retired eight consecutive batters while Cotton found similar success closing out innings.
“She did a nice job against us,” Coolen said of Cotton’s performance. “She pings the outside corner and has a little giddy-up on her ball. We just couldn’t catch up.”
Dino held the Purple Eagles scoreless before being relieved by redshirt senior Brittany Hitchcock, who earned her first save of the season. The two pitchers combined to shut out Niagara.
“I got a good five-plus innings out of (Dino),” Coolen spoke of his pitcher’s performances. “Then Brittany, I wanted to get back in the flow because she’s been out with an injury, so it was good to get her back.”
While the Rainbow Wahine had only three hits throughout the game, the team capitalized on its opportunities. Lopez scored without any assistance when Niagara freshman right fielder Veronica Zimmerman’s mistimed dive for the ball led to an inside-the-park home run. The Purple Eagles were unable to capitalize on their own four hits.
The University of Hawai‘i softball team will take on SUIE today at 6 p.m.