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UH Manoa softball team sets sights on NCAA regional tournament


photo: University of hawaii athletics

Stellar collegiate athletic programs are defined by consistent success, barring scandal of course. Over the past 20 years, and aside from Dave Shoji’s inconceivable prosperity with UH women’s volleyball, the Rainbow Wahine softball team, led by coach Bob Coolen, has been the most steadily successful athletic program at UH.

Pacing down the stretch run of the 2013 regular season, the Rainbows are once again thriving, with a 30-7 record and 15 games remaining. The goal of advancing to the NCAA regional tournament is setting itself up cleanly.  It is at this juncture of the season when small things such as chemistry between teammates and coaches can propel the Wahine back to the NCAA regional tournament and perhaps a return trip to the Women’s College World Series.

“We’re challenged with really looking at each other on the field and keeping this whole thing going,” says Coolen. “We have to have enough of a backbone to sustain what has made us successful to this point.”

After losing nine players from last year’s team, Coolen had natural doubts about where this newly formed team was headed. It was a given the Rainbows were going to rely heavily on Kaia Parnaby’s senior arm to deliver in the pitching game, but their hitting game was somewhat of a mystery to Coolen at the start of the season.

“I had no idea where our production at the plate was going to come from, other than knowing Kelly Majam would probably have another good year,” adds Coolen.

“This year, we have more balance, in the sense that one part of the (batting) order is doing the job if another part is slumping,” she says. We’re relying on timely hits, getting runners on base and whoever comes through at the plate, comes through, regardless of who it is.”


A professional writer for 10 years, Chris Fleck has covered a variety topics from history and sports to food and science. He currently is an adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University, teaching in both the communication and journalism departments. He is an avid runner and hiker and has embraced living in Hawaii since 2004.

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Honolulu Magazine April 2017
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