On Friday April 12, 2024, UC Riverside (5-7) hosted the Rainbow Wahine (6-4) in a doubleheader at the Amy S. Harrison field. The opening game saw the Highlanders squander a 4-0 lead after two innings. Hawaii’s senior Mya’Liah Bethea homered twice to help give her team the victory. The Rainbow Wahine would carry the momentum right into the second game.

After senior Haley Johnson earned a walk, the Rainbow Wahine quickly loaded the bases. UCR head coach Nikki Palmer quickly replaced sophomore Emma Falen with sophomore Brooke Perez. Perez was thrown into a tough situation and it would only get worse for her. Redshirt senior Dallas Millwood drilled a line drive right back into Perez’s hand. Perez looked visibly shaken up as Millwood reached first and loaded the bases again.

With a hurt hand, Perez had to face junior Chloe Borges again with the bases loaded. With the count at 2-2 count, Borges launched the ball past the left field wall. Her grand slam gave the Rainbow Wahine an early 5-0 lead.

Courtesy of Aronne Chan

Bethea flew out to right field, but Perez’s day was done after she walked freshman Jamie McGaughey. Junior Maddie Heinlin got the call as the Highlanders were onto their third pitcher in the first inning. Fortunately, Heinlin would take command of the mound and struck out sophomore Maycen Gibbs to end the nightmare inning.

After earning the loss in the first game, Heinlin seemed determined to right her wrongs. After scoring five runs in the first innings, the Rainbow Wahine went three up, three down the next three innings. Heinlin’s pitching kept the Highlanders in the game, but the hitters would eventually need to come through.

Sophomore trio Jackie Alday, Rebecca Cabezas and Bella Scozzola were critical to UCR’s comeback. Alday and Cabezas opened up the second inning with back-to-back singles. With a chance to break open the game, Palmer replaced Alday with speedy junior Allyssa Alano. Then, a sacrifice bunt from Scozolla advanced Alano and Cabezas into scoring position. With one out, senior Gigi Araki’s sacrifice fly was just enough to bring home Alano and put the Highlanders on the board.

In the fourth inning, the sophomore trio rallied once again. Three straight singles from Alday, Cabezas and Scozzola loaded the bases. Araki drew a walk, a two-RBI single from junior Samiya Jones and a two-RBI double from senior Nadia Witt gave UCR their first lead of the game. 

Witt followed up her clutch hit with a great play in the field to get the Highlanders out of a potential jam. In the bottom of the fifth inning, freshman Elise Nishimura drove in Alday to extend the lead to 2.

Courtesy of Aronne Chan

Despite entering the game in the first inning, Heinlin would close out the game for the Highlanders. She showed faith in her infielders and forced a ton of ground balls. Heinlin even showed off the glove on a couple of occasions enroute to 6.1 shutout innings.

On Saturday, the Highlanders and the Rainbow Wahine played the third and final game of the series. It came down to the wire, but Hawaii would eventually prevail. With two runners on first and second and two outs, Millwood snatched a hard-hit line drive from UCR’s fifth-year Lauryn Garewal to put the game to bed. Redshirt junior Addison Kostrencich pitched her second complete game of the weekend to help secure a 4-2 victory for the Rainbow Wahine.

Following the series against Hawaii, UC Riverside dropped to 6-9 on the season. The Highlanders will look to pick up the pieces in their upcoming road series against Cal State Northridge starting April 19.