Instead of dealing with all the rain, UH-Hilo simply reigned.
It was another road trip for the Vulcans’ softball team Friday in the sense they had to get on a bus in Hilo and trek to West Hawaii, but they’re becoming very comfortable with the friendly confines of Kealakehe High School, where they swept a doubleheader with ease against Academy of Art, 10-1 and 9-3.
“It’s kind of our home away from home,” coach Callen Perreira said after UHH improved to 10-0 at Kealakehe the past two years and 6-0 in 2019 to remain in second place in the Pacific West Conference. “We’re very grateful to (the Waveriders). They always roll out the red carpet for us.”
The Vuls (27-14, 20-8) were driving back to Hilo on Friday night and were set to depart for Kailua-Kona on Saturday morning ahead of a 1 p.m. doubleheader against the Urban Knights (13-14, 9-8). Those games will follow a 11 a.m. BIIF Division I softball semifinal series opener between Hilo High and the Waveriders.
“We’ve been on the road so much this season,” Perreira said, “the girls know how to do a good job of preparing.”
Greeted by windy conditions at times and a dose of light rain, Vevesi Liilii drilled a two-run home run, her fourth, in the opener to back Isabelle Mejia (10-2), who tossed a four-hitter in the five-inning TKO and delivered a two-run single at the plate to finish with three RBIs.
The preceding offensive damage came during a seven-run second inning, which also included Kiarra Lincoln’s single to center to score two runners.
In the second game, Waiakea alum Skylar Thomas hit a solo home run – her team-high fifth – finishing 2 for 2 with two RBIs and two run scored, Lincoln enjoyed her second multihit game and Mejia’s three-run triple made it 6-0 in the third inning. Mejia also had a double.
“Obviously, scoring all those runs against a good team was nice,” Perreira said.
Valerie Alvarado (8-5) went the distance in a five-hitter for the Vuls, surrendering a two-run home run to Lauryn Henderson and working around six walks with a strikeout.
Ahead 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Makamae Kaleikini led off with a triple to left and scored on hit by Rayla Jacobs-Kea, who was 2 for 4 with three runs scored.
One of the reasons Mejia allowed only an unearned run in the opener is because she walked just one.
Including getting swept by Hawaii Pacific on Wednesday, the Urban Knights have lost four in row to fall below .500.
While UHH was thrilled to find playable weather conditions, so was Academy of Art, which has had 13 games either postponed or cancelled. In 2018, the Knights won 40 times and qualified for the NCAA Division II regionals.
The Knights started their Hawaii trip last Saturday at Chaminade and are 5-5 on the islands and reside in sixth place in the PacWest.
Saturday’s contests are the Vulcans’ last chance to make an impression before the first set of regional rankings are released.
“We’re hoping for more of the same (Saturday),” Perreira said.