Brittany Hitchcock fired her 10th complete game of the year as the University of Hawai'i Softball team defeated Long Beach State 4-1 on Friday night at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.
The Rainbow Wahine (20-9) start Big West Conference play 1-0, while the 49ers (13-17) drop to 0-1.
“We had a week-and-a-half off to work on a few things,” head coach Bob Coolen said. “One of those things we worked on was being more aggressive at the plate.”
A refined Rainbow Wahine offense, which finished with eight hits on the night, found early success in the second inning when junior second baseman Cheeks Ramos connected with the first hit of the game. Senior catcher Heather Cameron would eventually score Ramos with an RBI to shallow right field.
Hawaiʻi’s top of the order did most of the damage in the third inning as senior third baseman Nicole Lopez, who leads the team with an .412 batting average, advanced sophomore center fielder Brittnee Rossi to third with a single. Senior designated player Alyssa Sojka’s sac fly scored Rossi, giving Hawaiʻi the 2–0 lead.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, LSBU junior reliever Kelly White walked senior pinch hitter Jenna Kumabe to increase Hawaiʻi’s lead to 3–0. LSBU head coach Kim Sowder was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire John Park’s call.
Rossi scored junior shortstop Chardonnay “Sissy” Pantastico with a sac fly to left field to give Hawaiʻi a 4-run lead.
“We wanted to plate those runs early,” Coolen said.
Long Beach State attempted to rally in the seventh inning when sophomore right fielder Naomi Hernandez singled with runners on second and third. Hernandez's hit scored one run, but a great throw from UH’s Rossi from center field threw out sophomore pinch hitter Justine Briones as she attempted to cross home plate.
“It always happens. The seventh-inning jitters,” Coolen said. “Making that second out at home was really important for us.”
Hitchcock took a shutout into the seventh inning before allowing a run with one out in the final frame. She spaced five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
UH will continue its series against Long Beach State with a doubleheader tomorrow at the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium starting at 2 p.m.