Softball: Vulcans look for pitching to come around at Cactus Classic

  • RICK OGATA photo UHH senior Valerie Alvarado.

UH-Hilo’s record says it’s playing .200 softball, but coach Callen Perreira says that percentage is closer to .667.

The Vulcans’ hitting has clicked and the defense has done its job, yet two out three hasn’t been good enough with the way the pitchers have performed.

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“It hasn’t been there, and we’ve got to be able to hold other teams down,” Perreira said. “That’s what we need to work on.”

Far from panicking after a 1-4 start as it traverses the desert Southwest, UHH has had five days to get that dry feeling out of its mouth as it opens play Thursday at the Cactus Classic, where it will play seven games against largely quality competition over four days in Tucson, Ariz.

Led by Pacific West Conference player of the week Kiarra Lincoln (10 of 16), the Vuls are batting .318 as a team, but they’ve been outscored 32-23 thanks to a 7.00 team ERA. UHH pitchers already have allowed 10 home runs. Skylar Thomas, Vevesi Liilii and Mae Kaleikini have gone deep for the Vuls.

Still, Perreira said, “We very well could be 4-1.”

The last game, an 8-5 loss Saturday to defending Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Colorado Mesa at the Dixie Courtyard Classic in St. George, Utah, left a bad taste in Perreira’s mouth. UHH was trying to close out a win in the bottom of the seventh when it tagged a runner out between first and second for what would have been Mesa’s second out, but the call was overturned.

“I think she was out of the baseline, too, but they reversed their call,” Perreira said.

Looking for a complete game, Valerie Alvarado secured the second out with the bases loaded in a 5-4 game, but the next batter, Bailey Kleespies, hit a grand slam.

“Stuff like that is happening to us,” Perreira said. “We just have to put it all together.”

A day earlier, UHH pitchers Billi Derleth and Leah Gonzalez combined to allow five home runs in an 8-5 loss to Northwest Nazarene.

The three senior pitchers the Vuls are relying on have yet to find their grooves, but they’re backed by a sound defense, Perreira said, that’s only committed two errors.

Alvarado (1-2) pitched well in the season opener against Central Washington, but UHH has lost its past four.

“We just didn’t put together a complete game against anyone after the first game,” Perreira said.

In Tucson, six of the seven teams UHH will face hail from the Lone Star Conference, including preseason No. 2 Texas A&M-Kingsville, which is off to a 9-1 start. Only one foe has a losing record.

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Of course, Perreira thinks records can be deceiving at this time of the season.

“We have a lot to work on, so the timing of the Arizona games is nice,” Perreira said.

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