Iwata, Ricketts share WAC Player honors

Jessica Iwata of Lihu‘e and Stephanie Ricketts of the University of Hawai‘i softball team were named the Verizon Western Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 12 through March 18.

This was Iwata’s first honor of the season and third of her career, while Ricketts enjoyed her third honor of the season and 10th overall, according to a University of Hawai‘i news release.

A double, home run and three RBIs — including a pair of game-winning, walk-off RBIs — gave Iwata the WAC nod for Hitter of the Week.

Hawai‘i faced three teams ranked in the Top 25, including two in the Top 10. Iwata, against No. 1,2 California, nailed a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to carry Hawai‘i to a 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten Golden Bears.

In the final game of the tournament, Iwata hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to center field to drive in Dara Pagaduan in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Rainbow Wahine its 2-1 edge over Winthrop.

Iwata, a junior, finished hitting a team-high .353 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage for the week.

Ricketts, a senior from San Jose, Calif., went 2-2 on the week, earning one of the biggest wins in Hawai‘i history when it defeated No. 1,2 California.

Ricketts threw all 10 innings in that game without giving up an earned run and tied her season-high with 12 strikeouts. For the week, she threw four complete games, including three straight, and posted a 1.35 ERA with 32 strikeouts.

The University of Hawai‘i now has its sights focused on the start of its 16th and final season in the WAC. Last season, the ‘Bows finished in fourth place with a 14-7 conference record.

The Rainbow Wahine starts its WAC season against San Jose State (16-16) at 6 p.m.  Friday, with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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