May 29, 2010

By Christopher Walsh
Special to

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Although it doesn't have anything on the Vancouver Canucks, who had a 14-game road trip spanning six weeks so the home venues could be used for the recent Olympic Games, the University of Hawaii softball team is well beyond missing home.

The Rainbow Wahine were last there May 10.

Hawaii won its first WAC Tournament title at Las Cruces, N.M. (3,215 miles), and the Stanford regional last week (940 miles), going 6-1 in the process. Instead of heading home and turning right back around, coaches elected to stay on the mainland and headed to Tuscaloosa early (1,965 miles).

"It has been a long haul," coach Bob Coolen said.

And it got even longer on Friday, when the Rainbow Wahine's Division I Super Regional at Alabama was postponed due to weather. The teams will play two games, at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. If a third game is necessary, it will be on Sunday.

Although all the travel begs the obvious question: "How does one pack for that?" things have actually gotten easier with the completion of the school year.

"Not having to worry about school work is nice," center fielder Kelly Majam said. "The first week when we were in the WAC tournament a lot of girls had finals.

"Right now though, it's fun. We enjoy ourselves. We get to hang out a lot together, and we enjoy spending time together."

This is the second time Hawaii has gone through this, losing at Tennessee in a 2007 Super Regional.

"When we won it last time at UCLA, we were in limbo without a hotel, not knowing where to go or what to do," Coolen said. "This time we were prepared for it. Our seniors were there last time as freshmen, they experienced the ride."

RECORD WATCH: Hawaii needs just four hits to set a new school single-season record (549, 1998). The team has already set new programs marks in runs (469), RBIs (430), doubles (89), walks (175) and strikeouts (326).

The Rainbow Wahine came into the super regional at Alabama having already set the NCAA record for home runs with 149 (Arizona 134 in 2009).

For Alabama, freshman Kayla Braud is on pace to break the Tide batting average record, hitting .506 (.467, Kelly Kretschman 1998). Sophomore Cassie Reilly-Boccia had already set the SEC record for walks (64), and had drawn at least one in 21 of the last 22 games.

Pitcher Kelsi Dunne entered the weekend with 332 strikeouts, third on the Alabama all-time single-season list behind Stephanie VanBrakle (345 in 2006, and 341 in 2005).

TIDE-BITS: Friday's game at the Alabama Softball Complex was cancelled due to inclement weather. Lightning in the area caused the initial delay for the 5:30 p.m. start time, but rain and fierce winds left little chance of playing and officials pulled the plug at approximately 9:30 p.m. Because Saturday's forecast isn't any better, the start times were moved up to 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with both games to be shown on ESPNU. Should a third game be necessary, it'll be played Sunday at a time to be determined.

Even though their colleges are more than 5,000 miles apart, Alabama pitcher/first baseman Charlotte Morgan and Hawaii third baseman/pitcher Melissa Gonzalez were teammates at Valley View High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. "We were really good friends in high school," Gonzalez said "We were both pitchers in high school, so we were really like a tag-team."