No NCAA grumbles for softball Wahine

Bobby Curran
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Friday - May 16, 2008
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Coach Bob Coolen
Coach Bob Coolen

If you’ve been watching the University of Hawaii athletic teams long enough, you’ve grown used to disappointment when it’s time for NCAA at-large bids to be handed out. Sometimes it has been a small injustice when a Hawaii team is on the bubble. Other times it seemed like robbery when a UH squad has appeared to be a mortal cinch and the only question should have been where Hawaii would be sent, not if it would be selected.

And in the case of the Wahine basketball team led by Judy Mosley and coached by Vince Goo that went 28-4 and was snubbed, the oversight was so great that Hawaii fans suspected a conspiracy when it was more likely a confederacy of dunces. We have sometimes thought it was about money; it’s so expensive for a Hawaii team to travel. Others have thought the NCAA committee deemed Hawaii so far away and unable to stand up for its rights long distance. All of which make it so satisfying that the Rainbow Wahine softball team, gathered en masse at Eastside Grill Sunday, heard its name called sending it to Arizona State.

“I almost didn’t go to the selection show,” says head coach Bob Coolen. “I thought we were out, done for the season. I didn’t ever think they’d send four teams from the WAC. But it’s such a great feeling.”

Fortunately for Coolen, wife Nanci insisted he head to Eastside Grill.“I’m an Internet freak,” says Nanci. “It’s my hobby. I’m on every softball website and I told Bob that his team could go, even should go. They were never worse than in the 30s in RPI all year, ranked nationally all year and their last six losses were by one run. I mean, c’mon!”

Mother indeed knew best. The Wahine will play Mississippi State in the first round Friday at 1:30 p.m. HST. But, as always for this team, even the travel won’t be easy. They fly to San Francisco, lay over, fly to Los Angeles and then bus six hours to Tempe. They might be in just the right spot to relax and play their best ball of the year. Meanwhile, the baseball Bows had a wild weekend in Las Cruces.

Saturday’s doubleheader sweep of New Mexico State by 17-10 and 15-14 gave Hawaii a split of the four-game series, accomplished without staff ace Jared Alexander, who was home rehab-bing a sore elbow. The Aggies’ home field is a launching pad - NMSU hit nine homers but Hawaii had seven of its own. A couple of individual performances were off the hook. Brandon Haislet went 9-10 with 10 RBIs, Jon Hee scored eight runs, Jeff Van Doornum went above the wall in right to steal a home run and then double the runner at second to end the inning, and Jayson Kramer came on in the bottom of the eighth in the nightcap with two on and one out with Hawaii clinging to the 15-14 lead. Not only did he get the Bows out of the inning, but he held the Aggies scoreless in the ninth to get the save.

How’s that for one day of baseball? Hawaii has a three-game series with Utah Valley State beginning Thursday at Les Murakami Stadium and then heads out to Ruston for the WAC tournament.


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