Series Preview: Rainbow Wahine softball returns home having won four straight in conference

Sports

Maya Nakamura // Hawaii Athletics

The University of Hawai’i softball team brings the momentum of a series win over Cal Poly last week back to the Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium for a three-game series against UC Riverside beginning on Friday.

The Rainbow Wahine have won or split every series this season, except for the opening series against top-ten ranked Washington. Since dropping the first three games of the year, UH is 9-5.

Going into the series with UC Riverside, UH is ranked No. 3 in the Big West Conference standings with an 8-4 record for a .667 win percentage. Cal State Fullerton leads the pack with a perfect 9-0 mark, while Long Beach State is No. 2 at 11-1.

Last week against Cal Poly, the ‘Bows featured how dangerous they are with the bat and from the pitching circle. In a Friday doubleheader, UH accounted for 21 runs and 27 hits against the Mustangs. On Saturday, freshman pitcher Jetta Nannen spun her second complete-game shutout of the season while striking out six.

One of the most significant contributors to the ‘Bows success at the plate last week was freshman Maya Nakamura. The Honolulu, O’ahu native swatted a .476 average collecting seven hits over four games, including two multi-hit games and a three-hit game. She belted a home run in the four-game series while driving in four runs and scored seven runs, mainly due to timely hitting and her .500 on-base percentage. As a result, she was voted as the conference freshman of the week.

On top of Nakamura’s stellar weekend, she has been very consistent for the ‘Bows. She leads the team in batting average (.360), slugging percentage (.580), hits (18), and doubles (5). Against conference opponents this season, she’s hitting .417 while tying teammate Brittnee Rossi with 24 total bases, ranking them at No. 7 in the Big West.

The success of senior left fielder Bree Soma at the plate continues as she notched seven hits over the four-game series with Cal Poly, including a hit in every game. Soma, against conference opponents, ranks No. 9 in slugging percentage (.700),  No. 9 in on-base percentage (.514), and tied at No. 5 in RBIs (10).

A key to the ‘Bows success has been their ability to get on base. UH, ranks No. 1 in conference play with 35 walks and No. 3 in hit by pitches at 12. Individually Nakamura is No. 3 in the conference with six walks, while sophomore catcher Ka’ena Keliinow is No. 1 in hit by pitches with five.

The all-time series with UC Riverside goes to the ‘Bows with a 28-6 record. The last time the two teams squared off was in 2019 at RWSS when UH swept the Highlanders, outscoring them 15-2 in a three-game series.

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