Fighting Irish Beats Hawai’i in Nine Innings, 7-3
By Rodney S. Yap
The No. 13th-ranked University of Hawai`i softball team dropped its NCAA Tucson Regional opener, 7-3, to Notre Dame in nine innings.
Hawai`i (44-8, 17-3 WAC) starting pitcher Stephanie Ricketts suffered the complete-game loss while Kelly Majam led UH at the plate, going 4-of-5 with a pair of home runs.
UH will face the loser of today’s the Arizona vs. North Dakota State game at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3). If Hawaii wins it will have to play again at 8 p.m. A loss eliminates Hawaii from the regional.
The Fighting Irish got on the board first, with Alexa Maldonado belting a lead-off home run to start the game. The second batter reached on an infield single but Ricketts settled down to get a fly out to center for the first out. UH catcher Kaya Wartner then gunned down Kelsey Thornton trying to steal second and Ricketts got a strike out to end the inning.
The Rainbow Wahine tried to answer right back in the bottom of the first. Majam led off the home half of the first inning with a single through the right side of the infield. Wartner then reached on a fielding error on the third baseman to put runners of first and second. Notre Dame’s starter Laura Winter got a strike out and then and both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch with Jessoca Iwata at bat. With first base open, Winter walked Iwata to load the bases. Alex Aguirre then hit into a fielder’s choice to third that erased Majam at the plate on the force out. Winter then got a strike out to escape any damage.
In the bottom of the third, Majam tied the game at 1-1 with a solo blast that hit in the middle of the scoreboard in right field. It marked Majam’s 14th homer of the season and 53rd of her career.
The Fighting Irish responded by leap-frogged the ‘Bows in the top of the fifth with a two-run, bases-clearing double to the left-centerfield gap by Dani Miller to take a 3-2 lead.
But in the bottom of the frame. Majam hit her second home run of the game over the left-centerfield fence. It was the second time this season and fourth time in her career that she hit two home runs in a game. Majam’s homer tied the score at 3-3.
In the top of the seventh with two outs, Miller hit a single to right that went right through Kliebenstein to the fence to leave Miller on second base. On the next play, another single by Emilee Koerner bounced into right. Kliebenstein fielded it on the run and fired home to Wartner who tagged on Miller who was trying to score from second.
The game went into extra innings, and in the ninth, Notre Dame posted four runs on an RBI single by Koerner and was followed by Katey Haus who lifted a three-run home run over the leftfield fence to give the Fighting Irish a four run cushion going into the bottom of the ninth.
It was the third time in Majam’s career that she racked up four hits in one game. She now leads UH with 15 home runs this season and 53 in her career.
Ricketts threw 8.1 innings, giving up seven runs on 14 hits with three walks and five strike outs.