Rainbow Wahine set for Senior Day

by Jason Kaneshiro on May 7, 2016

UH seniors (from left) Keiki Carlos, Tayana Mata, Dori Ann Sugai, Sarah McAndrew and Kiani Wong play their final home series this week against Cal Poly.  Photo by Craig T. Kojima.

UH seniors (from left) Keiki Carlos, Tayana Mata, Dori Ann Sugai, Sarah McAndrew and Kiani Wong play their final home series this week against Cal Poly. Photo by Craig T. Kojima.


Five Hawaii seniors will make their final appearances at home today when the Rainbow Wahine face Cal Poly in a Big West doubleheader.

Keiki Carlos, Tayana Mata, Sarah McAndrew, Dori Ann Sugai and Kiani Wong will be honored after the finale of the 2 p.m. doubleheader at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

“I don’t think this day would ever come and I hoped we could push it back a little bit more. But it’s surreal that’s its actually here and it’s our turn,” Carlos said earlier this week.

The Wahine got the weekend off to a stirring start with a three-run rally with two out in the bottom of the seventh to pull out a 3-2 win in Friday’s series opener.

Sugai had one of her more memorable performances with several key stops at shortstop after entering the game as a defensive replacement. Mata started the seventh inning rally with a one-out single. UH tied the game when freshman Nicole Lopez drove in Mata with a single and Jennifer Iseri scored on an errant throw to the plate. After Carlos was intentionally walked to load the bases, Heather Morales singled in Sarah Muzik with the winning run.

The four-year seniors — Carlos, Sugai and Wong — were freshmen on the 2013 team that won the Big West and advanced to the NCAA Regional at Washington. Mata and McAndrew joined the program last season as junior-college transfers. Along the way, they’ve collected memories on and off the field. Here are a few they shared prior to their farewell series.

Keiki Carlos
On the field: “When we won Big West our freshman year. It’s the biggest accomplishment we’ve had as a team.
Off the field: “I think traveling was the most fun. Not only being away from school, but just being able to live with the team for a week at a time. That was the fun part and getting to know people and bonding a lot more.”

Tayana Mata
On the field: “I think last year’s senior day when I hit two home runs back-to-back (against UC Davis), that was pretty good.”
Off the field: “All the traditions here are just so great. I think one of my favorite ones is the birthday slaps. I think it’s just fun to mess around.”

Sarah McAndrew
On the field: “When we got Coach Bob’s 900th win and we dumped the Gatorade on him. That was just a cool moment. All of us were just dying and he was so happy even though he was drenched in Gatorade.”
Off the field: “It’s not a memory, it’s just every day. It’s the jokes we say every day, feeling comfortable with my team. Being able to joke on the field and off the field. We are a family and I like that a lot.”

Dori Ann Sugai
On the field: “I would say our freshman year. After that I could say I took that for granted. I didn’t realize how hard it was and how big of a deal it was to make it that far. The past two years we’ve tried so hard and we can seem to get here. That was definitely a huge accomplishment.”
Off the field: “We shared so many, it’s hard to pinpoint. Probably just a lot of our team bonding. We would go to the beach and blast music. In past years that’s where we practiced our cheer. So the whole beach is looking at us like, ‘what are these people doing?’ But we don’t care, we just do our thing.”

Kiani Wong
On the field: “Definitely my first collegiate start, because it was against UCLA and being able to start against such a well-known softball program was unbelievable.”
Off the field: Probably our locker room dance-offs. That’s always a fun tradition that we have.”

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Here are a few more notes that didn’t make it into Friday’s advance.

>> There’s no official record, but Carlos would be a contender for most games played at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. She played 13 state tournament games at RWSS during her high school career at Mid-Pacific and led the Owls to back-to-back state championships her junior and senior seasons. She made RWSS her full-time home field in 2013 and has played 137 home games going into today’s doubleheader.

>> Although it took a little while to figure it out, Mata and Wong shared a connection well before becoming teammates. Their fathers, Kaha Wong and Curtis Mata, played baseball together growing up on the Big Island. Curtis Mata also played volleyball with Kiani’s mother, Keala.

>> One of the vocal leaders in the dugout, McAndrew said she loses her voice every game. The communications major could end up making a career out of using her voice. She provided commentary for ESPN3 broadcasts of the World Cup of Softball last summer in Irvine, Calif. Her assignments included calling a game with UH teammate Brittany Hitchcock pitching for Puerto Rico.
“That was really fun and that was something I could see myself doing,” McAndrew said. “I was able to technical produce a couple games too and work the cameras. I definitely got bitten by the bug for that.”

SPT UH SOFTBALL SENIORS  1

1 H-Man May 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Congratulations to the Wahine for winning their final home game of the season in such dramatic fashion and for taking the series 2-1 against Cal Poly. Good luck to the seniors. I enjoyed reading your comments. And a final good luck against the Beach on the road this coming week

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