The UH-Hilo softball got the hard part out of the way early in splitting a doubleheader at No. 7 Concordia.
Kiarra Lincoln greeted ace Callie Nunes with a home run Monday, and Chloe Domingo hit a three-run shot as the Vulcans won 5-1 before losing a pitcher’s duel 2-1 in Irvine, Calif.
If any game featured pitching magic it figured to come from Nunes, who entered with All-American numbers, including 0.84 ERA.
Nunes struck out 10, but she lost an early battle with fellow sophomore Lincoln, who the set the tone with a leadoff homer, her fourth of the season, and finished with three hits.
Valerie Alvarado (6-3) went the distance for the Vuls (21-9, 16-6 Pacific West Conference) and survived seven walks, striking out one and scattering six hits.
Nunes (16-3) – the 2018 Division II freshman of the year – also struggled with her control, walking five, and Domingo touched her for the freshman’s first home run of the season, finishing with four RBIs.
In the second game, the Eagles (24-4, 12-3) kept the Vuls from reaching first place by scratching for two runs in sixth inning off Billi Derleth.
Mckensey Thorpe and Sydni Dix led off the inning with hits to put runners on second and third. Amanda Gjertsen followed with a squeeze bunt to score Thorpe, and Sydney Sprinkle did the same to plate Dix.
UHH’s Vevesi Liilii doubled to open the sixth and scored on Makamae Kaleikini’s hit. Lincoln singled with two outs to move Kaleikini to second, but Maria Steadmon grounded out to end the game.
Derleth didn’t walk a batter in six innings, allowing five hits with three strikeouts.
Isabelle Mejia, Domingo and Lincoln each had two hits.
Tuesday’s second showdown will be the final conference games of this trip for the Vulcans before they head to the Tournament of Champions this weekend.