Freshman pitcher Izzy Dino threw a career-high six strikeouts as Hawaiʻi (16-6) rode early runs to a 5-3 victory over SIUE (7-7) Monday night at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
“It’s really important,” head coach Bob Coolen said of the win. “We knew they were good coming in. They’ve been successful in years past and I knew they were going to have some hitters and pitchers.”
Dino started the game strong with a 1-2-3 inning to give the Rainbow Wahine a crack at the early lead.
Junior second baseman Cheeks Ramos was hit by a pitch to put the first UH runner on base. Ramos’ stay at first was short lived as junior first baseman Callee Heen knocked in a two-run home run on a 2-0 pitch. Freshman right fielder Mikaela Gandia-Mak’s RBI double later gave Hawaiʻi the early 3-0 lead.
“Every time I go up to bat, I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” Heen said of her home run. “I try to do what’s best for the team. I try to get some good contact, score runners, get RBIs, whatever the team needs.”
The second inning ended in a deadlock as both pitchers got the job done. The teams finished with one hit apiece.
SIUE broke up the stalemate in the third inning. The Cougars clawed back to cut the deficit down to one. Dino gave up two runs on two hits in a sloppy inning for the Rainbow Wahine.
Hawaiʻi gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom of the third inning, knocking in a run despite not having a single hit. Sophomore center fielder Brittnee Rossi rounded the bases on a series of walks and stolen bases, eventually stealing home to give the Rainbow Wahine a 4-2 lead.
The Cougars made another rally attempt in the fifth, scoring one run on three hits. Hawaiʻi quickly put a stop to it, knocking in a run of their own when Gandia-Mak doubled to left center field, sending Heen home and giving UH a 5-3 lead.
Dino gave up just two hits over the final two innings to protect the lead for the Rainbow Wahine. She finished the game with three earned runs given up.
“I thought she did well,” Coolen said of his freshman pitcher. “She kept the ball down low. We gave up a couple errors and a couple of runs, but she kept the ball down where we wanted her.”
The ‘Bows return to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium March 12 at 6 p.m. to face Utah.