TUCSON, Ariz. —The Western Athletic Conference regular season champion University of Hawai‘i softball team (44-7, 17-3 WAC) faces Notre Dame (38-14) in the opening game of the NCAA Tucson Regional today. The two teams will square off at 5:30 p.m. in the Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on the University of Arizona campus. The 13th-ranked Rainbow Wahine are the second seed in the regional, while the Fighting Irish are the third seed. The regional host team, 13th-seeded Arizona (35-17), will play North Dakota State (37-20) at 8 p.m. All the games in the Tucson Regional will be televised live on ESPNU and ESPN3.
The Rainbow Wahine are hitting a combined .296 on offense, with five players hitting above the .300-mark and UH has now outscored its opponents 322-to-79 this season. Junior shortstop Jessica Iwata continues to lead UH with a .403 batting average, 58 hits, 14 home runs, 57 RBI, a .757 slugging percentage and a .503 on-base percentage. Senior third baseman is second on the squad, hitting a solid .340 (52-for-153) with 35 runs scored and 33 RBI. Freshman designated player is hitting .326 (45-for-138) with seven doubles and nine home runs and is second on the team with 37 RBI and senior first baseman Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu has a .308 batting average heading into the post-season. She has five doubles, eight homers and 34 RBI. Junior Kelly Majam has raised her average to .301 (44-for-146) with team-highs in runs scored (54) and walks (38). She is second on the team with 23 homers and a .616 slugging percentage.
Although UH’s pitching staff faltered a little in the WAC tournament, the dynamic duo of senior Stephanie Ricketts and junior Kaia Parnaby continue to be one of the best tandems in the NCAA, ranked No. 5 with a combined 1.32 ERA. Individually, Ricketts is ranked No. 11 in the NCAA with a 1.24 ERA and has posted a 28-4 overall record this season. The three-time WAC Pitcher of the Year has fired 30 complete games this season in 31 starts and has 10 shutouts this year. In 214.1 innings of work, Ricketts has walked 89 with 221 strike outs while holding opponents to a .181 batting average. Parnaby (16-3) has a 1.45 ERA in 120.2 innings pitched and has fired nine shut outs in 2012. She has 25 walks to 123 strike outs while keeping opponents at bay with a .176 batting average.
This marks the 10th NCAA appearance for Hawai`i—all under the guidance of head coach Bob Coolen who enters the tournament just two wins shy of hitting the 800-win mark at Hawai‘i. Overall his record is 870-546-1.