As good as Leah Gonzales was last weekend against Chaminade, the reigning PacWest player of the week might have played a more important role Sunday.
One week after being the definitive ace, Gonzales was the ultimate stopper, applying a tourniquet to UH-Hilo’s woes and boosting the softball team’s postseason chances.
The Vuls salvaged the finale of a four-game series, winning 5-1 behind Gonzales’ complete game at Kealakehe High in Kailua-Kona.
“She pitched a lot for us this week, and she gutted it out,” coach Callen Perreira said. “She got us a win when we really needed it.”
The bats finally woke up as well. Taisha Bratton hit home run in the sixth after Gonzales (4-1) was handed a 3-0 lead with the aid of Vevesi Liilii’s run-scoring single in the first and Brandee Chinen’s run-scoring hit to shortstop in the third.
With the PacWest Hawaii pod champion garnering a spot in a tournament against the conference’s other two pods to decide the league’s automatic berth to regionals, UHH improved to 11-4 and dropped the second-place Silverswords to 10-8. The Vulcans took the season season series from Chaminade 8-4 and have nine games remaining with Hawaii Pacific.
Gonzales – who pitched 12 shutout innings in two wins against Chaminade last Sunday – allowed only five hits, working around four walks with a strikeout.
Chloe Domingo collected two hits, Kiarra Lincoln doubled and scored two runs, and Markie Okamoto doubled in a run in the sixth and finished with two RBIs.
In the opener, the Silverswords got to the formerly untouchable Valerie Alvarado (4-2) for the second consecutive day in another 9-1 win. The right-hander allowed five runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. On Saturday, she yielded seven run in a third of an inning.
Lincoln had three of UHH’s four hits, including a double.
“(Alvarado) has to get her movement back and keep the ball down and come with the rise ball and she’ll be fine,” Perreira said.