UH-Hilo softball ace Isabelle Mejia didn’t have it, not by her standards.
That’s OK, because Valerie Alvarado did, and she’s starting to set a new standard for herself.
Alvarado provided the back-end solution the Vuls have been looking for once again, tossing a shutout for the second consecutive day as the Vuls picked up another sweep of Dominican, 10-7 and 8-0, at Kealakehe High in Kailua-Kona.
“She really stepped it up and helped extend our pitching staff,” coach Callen Perreira said of the junior transfer. “She kept the ball low and did a great job. That’s her game, keep the ball low and come back with the riseball.”
Alvarado (4-2) pitched a four-hitter in the six-inning TKO, walking two and striking out three, and she was backed by Vevesi Liilii, who went 4 for 4 with a two-run home run and three RBIs. Liilii, who also hit a home run Wednesday, missed eight games with an injury but is a key cog in the lineup, batting third.
“She’s a really tremendous hitter,” Perreira said, “with a lot of power.”
The Vulcans (16-4, 11-1 Pacific West Conference) scored 32 runs in the four wins against the Penguins (3-8, 2-8) and have won six in a row to finish their homestand 11-1.
The series was delayed by one day and moved westward because wet campus field conditions and the prospect of threatening skies in Hilo.
No, UHH doesn’t want to make Kealakehe is permanent home, but it more than works in pinch
“Hopefully, we have a chance to play at our home field, but this is a great home away from home,” Perreira said. “It’s a great high school field and the staff treats us well.”
Mejia was due for a so-so outing, and it came in a game in which the Vuls made five errors, but UHH hit its way out of trouble. Catcher Markie Okamoto went 3 for 3, with two doubles and three RBIs, and she singled to lead off the fifth to fuel a go-ahead three-run rally.
Kiarra Lincoln collected two hits and three RBIs, Skylar Thomas singled in a run and doubled, and Mae Kaleikini walked three times – UHH took advantage of eight free passes – and scored three runs.
After going at least five innings in her past seven starts, Mejia lasted three innings, allowing four runs, two earned, and six hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Leah Gonzales (4-2) allowed three unearned runs and three hits with a walk and four strikeouts in victory.
“She wasn’t felling well and she wasn’t her normal self,” Perreira said of Mejia. “Dominican has had a lot of rain outs at home and hasn’t played as much as everyone else, but they are not a bad team.”
The degree of difficulty does go up from here, however.
Starting Tuesday at Biola, the Vuls hit the road for 17 games in 13 days. Trips to Azusa Pacific, and No. 1 Concordia follow before the annual Tournament of Champions in Turlock, Calif, at the end of the month.
On Wednesday, the Vuls won 12-2 and 2-0.
In the opener, UHH scored eight runs in the first courtesy of a grand slam by Billi Derleth, who was making her first start of the season on offense, and a three-run blast by Liilii.
Mejia (7-0) allowed two runs for the first time in five starts and walked four, but she allowed just one hit with a strikeout and in the 4 1/2- inning TKO.
In the second game, Alvarado (3-2) delivered a five-hitter, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh with a groundout and a flyout to seal the win.
Mejia hit UHH’s third home run of the day, a solo shot in the sixth, after Lincoln (2 for 3) singled to score Lauren Flores (2 for 3) with two outs in the second.
Jaryn Kanbara doubled and homered to lead the Vulcans past Hope International in an exhibition game Fullerton, Calif.
Kyle Yamada and Dylan Sugimoto also doubled among their two hits as UHH used seven pitchers ahead of a series at Concordia that starts Saturday. Senior Thomas Warren pitched two innings to get the win, allowing one hit and one run with two strikeouts.
The No. 7 Vuls won their third consecutive match, 4-0 over Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) in San Antonio, Texas.
UHH (5-0) won a doubles match in a tiebreaker (Chun En Wu and Martin Soukal), lost in a tiebreaker (Alan Cincunegui and Luca Checchia) and the No. 1 team of Vaclav Slezak and Alessandro Giuliato claimed the team point with a 6-3 win.
In singles play, Slezak rolled and was the first player off the court with a 6-2, 6-2 win to give UH Hilo a 2-0 lead. Soukal cruised 6-3, 6-4 triumph, and Giuliato improved to 6-0 in singles with a 6-4, 7-5 clincher.
The Vulcans wrap up their Texas trip Friday against St. Edwards.
Kaelyn Uchida shot an 11-over 83 and the Vuls were eighth of 10 teams after the opening round of the Spring Fling in Palm Dessert, Calif.
Carli Shimokihara shot an 86 for UHH and was followed by Keely Kitamura (87), Kasumi Gato (88) and Kimberly Katayama (93).
The Vuls were at 344, 40 strokes behind first-place Point Loma. Uchida was tied for 24th heading to play Friday.
Allie Navarette was named to the D2CCA All-West Region second team, as voted on by the College Sports Information Directors.
The 6-footer sophomore was one of only 10 players selected from the 36 teams in the NCAA Division II west region. The Torrance, Calif., native averaged 19.8 points and 10.1 rebounds a game, both school records for the Vulcans. She also set UHH single-season records for points scored (516), rebounds (263), free throws made (170), free throws attempts (214), field goals (162), and field goals attempts (410).