College softball: Vulcans sweep to end Biola’s 13-game winning streak

SHELLY BLUNCK/UHH UH-Hilo celebrates a victory Saturday in Kailua-Kona.

One could look at the resounding results and surmise that UH-Hilo’s softball should move all of its games to Kailua-Kona.

Then again, Cyanne Fernandez has been brilliant everywhere – it wasn’t the circle at Kealakehe High that made the difference, it was the pitchers in the circle.

The Vulcans’ senior right-handed ace added two more wins to her resume Saturday, and more importantly, UHH swept Pacific West newcomer Biola 2-0 and 4-3 to emphatically end the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak.

Leah Gonzales picked up a huge seven-out save for the Vulcans (11-4, 2-0 PacWest), who traveled to West Hawaii because their campus field was under water.

“We were very anxious to play, and the fact that we hadn’t been outside but once in the last two weeks showed a little bit,” coach Callen Perreira said. “But I thought we played terrific defense today (except for one inning), had excellent pitching and hit well enough to beat a team that had won 13 straight games.”

Fernandez (9-0) threw a five-hitter in the first game, walking two and fanning three. She worked her way out of trouble in the first inning when Biola left runners on second and third, and she stranded a runner at third in the sixth. She put the Eagles down in order in the seventh.

The Vulcans went ahead in the bottom of the sixth when Brinell Kaleikini was hit by a pitch, Markie Okamoto moved her over with a sacrifice bunt, and pinch-hitter Danielle Antolin hit a sharp single to left to bring in the first run of the game. Kiarra Lincoln added insurance with a single to right, finishing with two hits.

The Vuls staked Fernandez to a 3-0 lead in the first inning of the second game as Kaleikini hit an RBI double, and Skylar Thomas’s run-scoring hit in the third made it 4-0.

But in the top of the fifth, everything almost came undone for the Vulcans, uncharacteristically, on defense. Three errors in the inning, against just one hit, pushed two runs across the plate and chased Fernandez from the game. In came Gonzales, who calmly retired seven straight Eagles to pick up her second save of the season.

“Other than that one inning, our defense was really great,” Perreira said. “In games like this, that is huge. On offense, 16 hits against a team with good pitching was well done. Cyanne did a great job, and Leah shut them down when we really needed it.”

Mari Kawano finished with three hits in the second game.

Fernandez pitched 11 2/3 innings on the day, giving up just one earned run and nine hits.

“Those are good wins, but it only gets tougher for us in the coming weeks,” Perreira said. “We have a murder’s row coming in with Azusa Pacific, Concordia, California Baptist and Dixie State.”