#29 Hawaii Softball 2014 Preview

Hawaii Rainbow Wahine

Overall Rank: #29
Conference Rank: #1 Big West
#29 Hawaii Softball 2014 Preview
Hawaii Team Page


Mainly because its geographic area means it has to travel a lot, the Hawaii softball team has scheduled games against 11 different conferences and 11 teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament. This should spell good news for the Wahine, who have an advantage with the state’s warm weather and a travel schedule that has it playing many solid West Coast softball squads. Hawaii has beaten Chaminade and BYU-Hawai’I in fall ball, but like many other schools the Wahine won’t unveil their full team until it starts the season in February. Hawaii won 44 games in 2012 and followed up with a 45-win season in 2013, and the Wahine would love nothing more than to hit 50 wins this year for the first time since 2010.

2013: 45-13, 20-4
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Bob Coolen

Field Players:
In the fall series with BYU-Hawai’I and Chaminade, the top hitters included freshmen Brittany Hitchcock and Heather Morales. Morales had four hits combined in the Chaminade and BYU-Hawai’I contests, and Hawaii hit six home runs combined in those two games. Last year the Wahine had four double-digit home run hitters. Kelly Majam, who slammed 18 of those homers, is gone, but Leisha Li’ili’I (13 homers, .301 batting average) is back as is Sharla Kliebenstein (.243-12-37) and Kayla Wartner (.314-11-37). Hawaii definitely has plenty of pop in the bat, led by top hitter Jazmine Zamora (.337-6-29, 55 hits in 2013). No. 2 hitter Keiki Carlos is also back, so the Wahine return plenty of hitters for average and for power. Majam stole 12 of Hawaii’s 36 bases, so the Wahine will have to rebuild the speed game but that should not be a big issue come 2014.

Top pitcher Kaia Parnaby is gone, taking with her a whopping 342 strikeouts and an impressive 39-7 record. This leaves Loie Kesterson (4-4, 5.39) as the lone returning pitcher and Carlos as a backup. This is an area where we may expect to see freshmen blossom right away.

Who to Watch:
Because Parnaby is gone and she was responsible for all but six of the team’s victories, look to Hitchcock and Morales to fill some of the gaps. Hitchcock, a native of Huntington Beach, California, was a part of the Golden West League championship as a member of Ocean View High School. Morales was a graduate of Indio (California) High School and was her league’s most valuable player in both 2012 and 2013. The California softball scene is regarded as a spectacular one by many high school followers and coaches. While Kesterson may get a chance to pitch in some games, it is more likely the Wahine will go with pitching by committee, and that means the freshmen could get some immediate experience.

Final Projection:
How the Wahine do overall will depend on two things. First, the team will need to show it can overcome the loss of quality pitching and groom freshmen to replace the missing parts. Second, can it overcome a very tough schedule that has games against teams from 11 conferences and 11 schools that made the NCAA tournament? If the Wahine can do both, this could be a big year on the island. More likely, the step back in pitching will put Hawaii back to between 35 and 40 victories, although it should win the Big West.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Keiki Carlos, P/OF, 178
Hits: Keiki Carlos, P/OF, 57
Home Runs: Leisha Li’ili’i, 1B, 13
RBIs: Leisha Li’ili’i, 1B, 41
Runs: Kayla Wartner, C/1B, 38
Stolen Bases: Sharla Kliebenstein, C/OF, 5

Wins: Loie Kesterson, P/OF, 4
Innings Pitched: Loie Kesterson, P/OF, 61.0
Strikeouts: Loie Kesterson, P/OF, 25
Saves: None

Madness 2014 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#32 Lindsey Willmon


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