Rainbow Wahine pack plenty of power

April 12, 2010, 4:45 PM HST · Updated April 14, 12:51 PM
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By Fred Guzman

MauiNow.com

Because theirs is a so-called minor sport, the University of Hawaii softball team hasn’t gotten the attention it richly deserves.

Despite rising to No. 25 national rankings while compiling records of 33-11 overall and 11-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, the Rainbow Wahine are the best-kept sports secret in the state.

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Over the weekend, UH swept a three-game at Boise State, out-scoring the Lady Broncos 36-7 while slugging 17 homers.

Guiding this offensive juggernaut is UH’s coach of 19 years, Bob Coolen, who over the weekend claimed his 700th career victory.

Interestingly, the bulk of the power for UH is coming mostly from a collection of youthful hitters lacking in bulk.

Freshman centerfielder Kelly Majam already has tied the WAC season record by hitting national-leading 23 homers. Majan is all of 5-foot-3.

Freshman shortstop Jessica Iwata, a 5-foot-4 gem from Kauai, was named WAC hitter of the week after going 12-for-20 with six homers – including a pair of grand slams – and driving in 17 runs in five games.

For the season, Majam is batting .399 with 52 runs and 45 RBI. Iwata is batting .398 with 13 homers 42 runs and 41 RBI.

Three other have also reached double digits in homers. Melissa Gonzalez has 15, Amanda Taulii 11 and Jenna Rodriguez 10. For the season, UH has slugged a 106 homers in 44 games. Wow.

UH BASEBALL: Thanks to an outstanding mound outing by Alex Capaul, the University of Hawaii baseball team was able to avoid a sweep at the hands of Fresno State in a WAC-opening home series against the four-time defending champion.

The junior right-hander went the distance, scattering seven hits, in a 4-0 win over the Bulldogs as Collin Bennett drove in a pair of runs, staking Capaul to an early lead.

Fresno State survived a late rally to win Friday’s series-opener 8-6, and then took both ends of Saturday’s double-header by scores of 8-5 and 1-0 on a seven-inning no-hitter by Greg Gonzalez.

Hawaii is now 17-15 overall and 1-3 in the WAC. Next on tap for the Rainbows are a pair of WAC road series. UH faces Sacramento State starting Friday and visit LaTech the following week.

MIL BASEBALL: The stage is set for a baseball showdown between Baldwin and Maui High in a three-game series that will determine the MIL’s D-I regular-season title. Both teams are 8-1 as they open their key series on Thursday, with games also set for Friday and Saturday. Each of the games is set for a 6 p.m. start.

UFC: It was a dark day for two of Hawaii’s most popular ultimate fighters as both BJ Penn of Hilo and Kendall Grove of Maui went down to defeat Saturday in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Erimates.

Suffering his first defeat as a lightweight in eight years, Penn lost his UFC title to Frankie Edgar, an 8-to-1 underdog, via a unanimous decision..

The five-round bout turned into a battle of jabs, with Edgar using an effective stick-and-move attack to stymie Penn. The three judges scored the bout 50-45, 48-47 and 49-46 in favor of Edgar, who improved his career record to 12-1.

Penn, who had been 5-0 in his last five UFC lightweight bouts, dropped to 15-6-1. Penn was making the fourth defense of the 155-pound title.

On the undercard, Mark Munoz defeated Kendall Grove via second round TKO in a middleweight, or 185-pound, bout.

Grove dominated the first round, dropping Munoz with an uppercut and then attempted several choke holds. But Munoz survived the first and gained control in the second by working his way on top and then utilizing a ground-and-pound attack to finish the fight.

The referee stopped it at 2:50 into the second round. Munoz improved to 8-1, while Grove dropped to 13-7-1.

In the other co-main event, Anderson Silva defeated fellow Brazilian Demian Maia by a lackluster unanimous decision to retain the UFC middleweight world title.

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