KAILUA-KONA — The University of Hawaii-Hilo softball team made a late change to its schedule at the end of the week, electing to play a four-game series with visiting University of Art at Kealakehe High School.
With their field underwater on the east side of the Big Island, the Vulcans made the trip to the west side to host the Urban Knights in a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.
It is not unusual for the Vuls to make the trip to the west side for a series when the conditions get a little wet and wild in Hilo. The change also seems to benefit the team on the field as well.
“I think we have nearly won all of our games when we come over here,” said UHH head coach Callen Perreira. “Kealakehe lets us use their field pretty much any time we ask and we are very grateful for that. We prefer to play in Hilo but you can’t do anything about the weather.”
West side fans of high school softball were also treated to the sight of a few home-grown talents in Waiakea’s Skyler Thomas and Kamehameha’s Kiarra Lincoln.
Both Thomas and Lincoln helped the Vuls take three of the four games against Academy of Art.
For the series, Lincoln was nearly unstoppable, picking up six hits in 11 at-bats despite dealing with an ankle injury. She had four RBIs, two runs scored and three walks. Lincoln also hit a home run in the third game on Saturday.
“It is always nice to come to the west side because the weather is always better, especially over the last week, and we just want to play,” Lincoln said. “We have to wake up earlier, but as our coaches always say, ‘it is mind over matter.’ It is something we can control.”
Thomas also had a solid series with two RBIs, four runs scored and three walks. She had a monster Game 2, going 2-for-2, with a home run.
“The trip over doesn’t really bother me; I have played on these fields before,” Thomas said. “And we can sleep on the van. I feel more bad for the coaches, really.”
The coaches don’t really mind the trip either. It’s actually a lot better than most of the mainland trips they have taken this season.
“We travel a lot,” Perreira said. “We had 17 games in 13 days on a recent road trip and we played 12 conference games with only one day off.”
As for the games this weekend, UHH swept Friday’s doubleheader, beating the Urban Knights 10-1 in the series opener and 9-3 in Game 2. On Saturday the teams split the DH, with the Vuls taking Game 3, 5-1, and Academy of Art avoiding the sweep with a 9-0 win in Game 4.
Picking up wins inside the circle for UHH were Isabelle Mejia and Valerie Alvarado. Mejia threw all five innings of Game 1 and seven innings in Game 3. She allowed a combined two runs, one earned off eight hits. She struck out 12 and walked two.
Alvarado allowed three earned off five hits in seven innings of work in Game 2. She walked six and struck out one.
The Vuls are now 28-15 on the season and 21-9 in conference play. Next up is a doubleheader with visiting Chaminade University on Saturday, which is currently scheduled at the UHH softball field.