Baseball Bows have high hopes

April 3, 2009, 8:33 AM HST · Updated April 3, 9:32 AM
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Expectations are running high as the University of Hawaii baseball team begins its conference campaign tonight against San Jose State in the opener of a four-game series at Les Murakami Stadium.

UH has played impressively during the recent non-conference portion of its schedule – including taking 3 of 4 against then-18th-ranked Coastal Carolina last week — for an overall mark of 16-9 record.

But San Jose State’s resume is even more impressive. The Spartans are 19-5 and feature arguably the best pitching staff in the seven-team WAC, which includes defending national champion Fresno State.

The two teams tangle at 6:35 p.m. today, play two tomorrow starting at 3 o’clock and close out the series at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

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UH will send Jayson Kramer to the mound tonight, while struggling Jared Alexander and emerging Matt Sisto will on Saturday. Head coach Mike Trapasso has not designated a starter for Sunday’s finale.

MEN’S HOOPS: Bob Nash received a one-year contract extension with an option for a second year if the UH basketball team wins 18 games or qualifies for a post-season tournament over the next two seasons.

More importantly, perhaps, Nash secured commitments from a pair of highly-touted athletes who he hopes will resolve one of his team’s biggest needs – backcourt players who can shoot and handle the ball.

UH was 13-17 during the past season and is 24-36 during Nash’s two years on the job since he took over for Riley Wallace.

The additions of 6-foot guards Dwain Williams and Jeremy Lay, he hopes, will elevate the level of Hawaii’s backcourt.

Williams – one of the nation’s top-rated prep guards — was the starting point guard for Providence as a sophomore during the 2007-08 season and scored 23 points – including six 3-pointers – in a stunning upset of Connecticut.

Williams averaged 11 points and led the Friars with a .902 shooting percentage and shot 40.7 percent from behind the arc. He left Providence after the firing of its then-head coach and now has resurfaced at Manoa.

UH also landed Lay, who averaged nearly 17 points and more than six assists last season for a junior college in Oklahoma. He also led the team in steals.

If those two players pan out, they should dramatically elevate Hawaii’s dismal three-point shooting a horrid ball-handling. UH is scheduled to return its entire starting five – including talented swingman Roderick Flemings.

VOLLEYBALL: The UH men continued to struggle, rallying late but still suffering a five-set road loss to ninth-ranked UCLA despite 28 kills by FR Steven Hunt. The two teams meet again tonight, with Hawaii having dropped to 6-16 overall and 3-14 in the conference.

SOFTBALL: The Rainbow Wahine are on the road this weekend, facing league-leading and nationally 22nd-ranked Fresno State in a three-game series. Hawaii is 15-19 overall and 3-3 in the WAC, compared to Fresno State’s marks of 21-13 and 5-1.

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