LAIE, Hawaii – Freshman third baseman Lizabelle Talataina provided plenty of offense to help BYU-Hawaii softball split the season series with Hawaii Pacific. The Seasiders (7-19, 3-13 PacWest) won the first game 7-3 before their comeback came up short in a 12-10 loss in the second game on Saturday at the BYU-Hawaii Softball Field.
Talataina finished 5-for-7 on the day with two home runs and five RBI to lead the Seasiders. Senior first baseman Whitley Haimin added a 5-for-9 performance from the plate with three RBI and a double.
Junior pitcher Destyni Valencia (4-8) threw a gem in the first game allowing three runs and striking out six in the complete game victory. Junior pitcher Chelsie Childs (2-3) saw her first action of the week returning from an injury, but was unable to secure the victory in the second game.
After trailing 3-1 after the first four inning, BYU-Hawaii used a strong fifth inning to grab control of the game. Junior outfielder Brandy Karl singled to third base with one out and Tiffany Smith added a two-out single to center field to put a runner in scoring position. Makaela Williamson singled through the left side to load the bases. Talataina smashed a ball back up the middle to score Smith and Karl, tying the game at 3-3. Haimin singled down the left-field line and Williamson was able to beat the throw home to give BYU-Hawaii the lead for good.
With a runner at second and two outs in the top of the first, Kayla Sanchez homered to center field to give the Sharks (12-10, 4-8 PacWest) an early 2-0 lead. BYU-Hawaii was unable to answer in the bottom of the frame, and Hawaii Pacific looked to extend the lead with runners on second and third with one out in the second. Courtney Hiruko ended the threat with a fantastic catch at second and a throw to third for the inning-ending double play.
Talataina homered on a line-drive over the left-field fence to lead off the bottom of the second and cut the lead to one.
Valencia retired the side in the top of the third, including a strike out for the third out. Kalynn Latu doubled to left center to lead off the bottom of the frame, but two ground outs and a line out to the left side of the infield left her stranded.
The Sharks added a run in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead when Keila Eldert's singled up the middle to score the runner from third.
After taking the lead the Seasiders looked to hold on, as the Sharks loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. Valencia battled back for three-consecutive outs with the help of her defense, leaving all three baserunners stranded.
BYU-Hawaii then looked to add some breathing room with their turn at the plate. T. Anu Memea singled to left field to lead off, but back-to-back fielder's choices kept the runner at first. Hiruko singled down the left-field line with two outs to advance Karl to second. Smith singled on a hard line drive that the pitcher was unable to handle allowing Karl to score. Williamson continued the two-out rally with a single through the right side, scoring Hiruko for the 6-3 lead. Talataina singled up the middle to end the scoring, as Valencia took care of business in the top of the seventh.
Hawaii Pacific jumped on top early again in the second game, scoring three runs with several walks and a fielding error by BYU-Hawaii. Hiruko walked to lead off the bottom of the frame for the Seasiders, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Talataina homered again with a drive down the left-field line to close the gap to 3-2 heading to the second.
Hawaii Pacific's Dorian Acierto added a solo-shot to left center to put the Sharks back up by two in the top of the second. Two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for the Seasiders in the bottom of the second with one out. Smith then grounded into a fielder's choice as the shortstop was able to get the tip of her glove on the ball and poke it to second for the out, but not before Whitney Gustafson scored from third to close the gap back to one at 4-3.
Valencia retired the side in the top of the third inning and Haimin led off with a single to left field in the bottom of the frame. Memea singled down the left-field line just underneath the third baseman's glove to put the runner in scoring position. Gustafson drew a walk to load the bases with one out. Pitisi Tualau pinch hit for the Seasiders and singled through the left side to score Memea and tie the game 4-4.
The fourth and fifth inning saw Hawaii Pacific grab a commanding lead with eight runs, including two two-run homers. BYU-Hawaii was only able to counter with one run of its own after Gustafson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Seasiders had one last push to take the game in the bottom of the seventh. Gustafson doubled down the left-field line to lead off and Josey Walker singled through the left side to advance her to third. Hiruko walked on the next at bat to load the bases with one out. Williamson walked with two outs to score one and keep the bases juiced for Talataina. A passed ball scored Walker and a wild pitch brought home Hiruko. Talataina then walked and Haimin doubled over the left fielder's head to bring in both runners and close the gap to 12-10 where Talataina and Williamson were both able to scored. Memea got a hold of a pitch and sent it to right field during the next at bat, but unfortunately the right fielder was in position to make the catch and stop the rally short.
The Seasiders will return to the diamond to play Hawaii Hilo in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. HST on Thursday, April 9. Live stats will be available online.