Despite upward trajectory, Rainbow Warriors left wondering what could have been

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The University of Hawaii baseball team has made strides in 2016.

Their overall record heading into the final three games of the season against Arizona, 23-27, is already better than 2015 by a game.

Despite a carbon copy 12-12 mark in the Big West Conference this year, the Rainbow Warriors were strikingly close to contending for a BWC title heading into the final weekend of the season.

Hawaii will head into the weekend six games back of first-place Cal State Fullerton, having lost five one-run games in conference play.

They also dropped an extra innings affair against Long Beach State where they went 0-4 at the plate with the winning run on base.

“It’s a messed up sport like that,” senior shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins said. “We’ve been in every game. There’s just unfortunately been a few things that haven’t gone our way. We put ourselves in good positions. You flip a coin and things go our way. All of a sudden, we’re sitting pretty, and who knows what could happen.”

The ‘Bows building blocks of the future are apparent. With seven of nine regulars in the lineup slated to return in 2017, head coach Mike Trapasso will return two of the better freshman in the nation in catcher Kekai Rios and Ethan Lopez.

Rios, known as a defensive specialist, is hitting a crisp .333 in 45 games started. Lopez worked his way into the lineup halfway through the season, but has tagged an identical .333 at the plate in 20 starts.

“What we tell these guys is what a fine line it is and how close we are,” Trapasso said. “Especially after the Long Beach series, I think we looked at that where we were two hits away from sweeping the series, but we lose two of three to a ranked team. It’s just that fine a line in the Big West this year. To finish .500 in the league by winning the series at Fullerton is big for our guys considering the fact that the majority of this group is going to return.”

Hawaii and Arizona will open their series Friday at 6:35 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.

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