The Best Sports Weekend Ever
Wednesday - June 09, 2010
Was Memorial Day weekend the biggest weekend ever in Hawaii collegiate sports history?
You could certainly make a case for it. In a span of just over 24 hours, the University of Hawaii Wahine softball team got a dramatic last-inning home run on national television to beat Alabama, the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and make it to the NCAA Division I College World Series.
A few hours later, the once-struggling UH Rainbow baseball team came out of nowhere to win the WAC tournament and an automatic berth in the NCAA regionals.
And then Hawaii Pacific University won its semi-final game in the Division II softball World Series on Sunday, and wrapped up the National Championship Monday with a heart-pounding victory in the title game played out on national television on Memorial Day.
Given the significance of the victories, the national media impact, the spotlight on Hawaii plus the incredible drama involved, it’s very hard to imagine a bigger weekend in local college sports history.
Yes, there have been huge wins by the Hawaii football team, including the weekend when it finished undefeated and was selected to the BCS Sugar Bowl. There were a number of times when the UH Wahine or PacWest teams like HPU and BYU-Hawaii earned trips to the Final Four or won national titles. There have been monstrous victories in basketball by the Fabulous Five, Riley Wallace’s WAC title teams, HPU’s NAIA basketball title and BYUHawaii’s No. 1-national ranking and, of course, Chaminade’s mind-boggling and historic victory over Virginia. All of those events will be remembered for all time - and should be!
But what made this weekend so incredible was that it was so unexpected, and it played out for everyone all over the country to tune in and see.
The walk-off home run by Jenn Rodriguez against Alabama in the Super Regionals could go down as arguably the single most-dramatic moment in University of Hawaii sports history. Coming with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in front of a fired-up crowd that was on its feet expecting a Crimson Tide victory even startled the ESPN commentators. The two-run homer by the player they affectionately call J-Rod sent Hawaii fans into delirious jubilation - and head coach Bob Coolen announced to a nationwide television audience that it was the best day in his life!
The Rainbow baseball WAC title was something that also came seemingly out of left field. Mike Trapasso’s team barely made the conference tournament field, but a hot finish to the season eventually pushed them to the title contest. Then, a championship game victory with Hawaii’s favorite son Kolten Wong earning tour-ney MVP honors catapulted the Rainbows to the NCAA Regionals - and earned Trapasso an extension on his contract.
Meanwhile, I was in St. Joseph, Mo., where a diminutive, but determined bunch of HPU Sea Warriors fought off all challenges to win the NCAA II College World Series. The tourney included a breathtaking 1-0 10th-inning victory by HPU, and then a hold-onto-your-seat wild ride in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat second-ranked Valdosta State in the nationally televised championship game. Tourney MVP Sherise Musquiz, who set an HPU career pitching record for victories, was the tenacious bulldog in the circle for the Sea Warriors - and she and her teammates celebrated with the national trophy all the way home from Missouri to their triumphant arrival in the Islands the next day.
Was it big? You bet it was! Was it the biggest ever? Perhaps so. However you rank it, you definitely had to pause a moment to honor Hawaii’s champions and recognize a Memorial Day weekend that local college sports fans will never forget.
This trifecta was perfecto.
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