UH-Hilo’s softball team felt a positive vibe going into its watch party, and the mood only got more festive from there.
The Vulcans are returning to the NCAA Division II postseason for the first time since 2013, they learned Sunday, and are set to leave for Irvine, Calif., and a Wednesday matchup with Western Washington at the West Regional.
“We had a good feeling, but the anxiety is there until you hear your name,” coach Callen Perreira said. “We were all together, and the girls were very happy when it was announced.”
The Vulcans (17-11) are the fifth seed in the West’s double-elimination bracket. The top seed is host Concordia, which beat the Vuls last week in a pair of one-run games at the PacWest pod series to earn the conference’s automatic bid.
UHH last went regionals under coach Jaime Wallin, finishing 0-2. Perreira had taken UHH to regionals three times previously, and he also took the College of Southern Nevada to the junior college playoffs in all four seasons he was with the Coyotes.
The common link between this Vulcans’ team and his previous postseason qualifiers?
Statistically speaking, UHH will be bringing the best leather to Irvine, ranked third in the nation with a .980 fielding percentage.
The Vuls have committed 16 errors in 28 games.
“Usually we’re around the .960, so to be (third) in the country is a a great accomplishment,” he said.
Fourth-seeded Western Washington (20-11) won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament, and the Vikings will have one of the top arms at the six-team regional in Anna Kasner, who is 13-3 on the season with a 1.62 ERA and has 153 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings.
“She throws very hard, and it’s going to be a great challenge,” Perreira said.
Game 1: No. 4 Western Washington vs. No. 5 Hawaii Hilo, 9 a.m.
Game 2: No. 3 Northwest Nazarene vs. No. 6 Central Washington, 11:30 a.m.
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (Elimination Game), 2 p.m.
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. No. 1 Concordia Irvine, 9 a.m.
Game 5: Winner Game 2 vs. No. 2 Biola, 11:30 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 4 vs. Loser Game 5 (Elimination Game), 2 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 9 a.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 6 (Elimination Game), 11:30 a.m.
Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 (Elimination Game), 2 p.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 9 a.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 10 vs. Loser Game 10 (if necessary), 11:30 a.m.