By any definition, Saturday was a slamming success for UH-Hilo’s softball team.
The Vulcans took down No. 1 Texas A&M-Kingsville and didn’t stop there at the Cactus Classic in Tucson, Ariz.
The bats, the glove, the pitching.
“It call came together,” coach Callen Perreira.
In danger of falling four games under .500, UHH battered Kingsville 9-1 in a five-inning TKO behind an encouraging pitching performance by Valerie Alvarado, and Vevesi Liilii’s grand slam highlighed a 9-7 win against Eastern New Mexico.
The first of four home runs on the day for the Vulcans (5-6) was Mae Kaleikini’s two-run shot, her second of the season, against the Javelinas (10-4), who were ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll and moved up to No. 1 last week with four wins against ranked teams. Kingsville has fallen on tougher times in Arizona, and Vuls jumped on top with a six-run rally in the second inning that included four errors and four hits, including Chloe Domingo’s two-run single.
“That’s a really good win,” Perreira said. “We really hit the ball well. We’ve had some games where we’ve hit the ball well, but we couldn’t get it done with our pitching or defense.”
Alvarado (3-2) went distance, allowing only three hits, one run and three walks with two strikeouts. Liilii collected two hits and Domingo drove in three.
Liilii had the big blow against Eastern New Mexico (4-2) with her second homer, Skylar Thomas also hit her second long ball of the season and catcher Markie Okamoto launched her first.
Freshman Malia Risdall made her first collegiate start in the circle and Leah Gonzales came on in the fourth inning.
The Vuls finish tournament play at 7 a.m. HST Sunday against Texas Permian Basin and can reach .500 before returning home and preparing for Pacific West Conference play later in the month.