In the fourth inning against St. Bonaventure on Sunday, Bob Coolen told designated player Haley Johnson from the third base coaches’ box at Rainbow Wāhine Softball Stadium to put a complete swing through after she did a half-swing that resulted in a foul ball.
“When they half-swing and they put it on the ground, it’s an automatic out,” the Hawaiʻi coach said about the situation post-game. “It’s an easy out. Why are you doing that? Why are you allowing the defense to have that?”
Although Johnson lined out to second on the next pitch, it may have set up her next at-bat, where she hit the go-ahead two-run home run to left-center field in the bottom of the sixth, as UH beat St. Bonaventure 2-0 in the final game of the Bank of Hawaiʻi Invitational.
“I was just looking for the first pitch and I just remembered that I had to believe in myself — I’m doing this for my team,” Johnson said.
“She hit a line drive to the second baseman, so they decided to pitch her outside [in her next-at bat],” Coolen said. “Well, her strength is outside. She is an opposite field home run hitter. That is Haley Johnson. Not pull. Opposite, because she is so strong and when she gets her legs and body into it, she’ll hit ‘em over the fence every time.”
Johnson’s home run was the only major offensive output either side in what was a pitcher’s duel. UH starter Brianna Lopez (5-2) struck out eight in a two-hit shutout and St. Bonaventure starter Elizabeth Lis (0-2) gave up only four hits.
“[St. Bonaventure] is capable of hitting, but a good pitcher is gonna shut them down, and I knew we were going to shut them down, ” Coolen said. “But I also knew we might be flat because it was our first game of the day and our only game of the day. We came out flat. We weren’t swinging hard, we weren’t being aggressive.”
“We made all the plays. Bri made all the right moves on the mound and that’s what’s going to happen.”
Lopez came back from a loss to Marist on Friday and retired the first 11 St. Bonaventure hitters she faced, striking out five in the first four innings.
“I felt pretty good,” Lopez said. “I’ve had a rough three weeks. I’ve been through a mental roadblock right now, so getting that game out of the way felt really good.”
UH (9-6) exits the first tournament of three consecutive they have with a tournament record of 2-2. The Wāhine play St. Bonaventure on Thursday at 6 p.m. HST to begin the Hawaiʻi Spring Fling in a field that also has Niagara and West Coast schools Santa Clara, Pacific and Utah.
“It’s always good to go .500 but we should have done better,” Coolen said. “We can hit all of our signs, we can do all the stuff we want to defensively and offensively, but we didn’t.”
“Now we go into a tournament where they’re are better teams coming in — and I say better only because they’re from the West and not from the East, so they’ve been on the field and had a lot of competition. These teams (from the East Coast) are coming out of the cold, and they haven’t been outside that much. The West Coast teams — Santa Clara, Pacific — those teams are gonna give us a go.”