Kaia Parnaby ended her illustrious UH career today in a loss to the University of Washington, finishing with a 39-8 record overall (which is insane.) I know very little about the intricacies of softball beyond its generic overlaps with baseball (which I also know very little about.) Still, UH softball over the last 4 years has had one of the most successful runs in its history, in no small part due to contributions of the 5 graduating seniors (including Parnaby there was also Tara Anguiano, Brynne Buchanan, Jessica Iwata and Kelly Majam.) Overall, she set new UH and Big West single-season records with 342 strike outs and 39 wins. For her career, the Parnaby finishes in the UH career record books ranked No. 2 in strikeouts (794); shutouts (tied with Brooke Wilkins' 32); saves (5) and wins (86) and is No. 3 with 89 complete games (stats provided by the Hawaii Athletics Website).
Iwata has also had a memorable career, particularly for me, from the time that she landed with a splash (or a boom) in her freshman year. In 2010 when she (and the team) broke out for the first time, I was working at a firm during the summer of my second year in law school. I remember being fascinated that a group of attorney's at a mid sized firm, many of whom had nothing in common other than a degree, banned together to watch the team in the softball world series. For me it was great since we were able to take time off of work to watch the games (there was a TV in the office.) I saw the Jenna Rodriguez home run to beat Alabama that got nominated for an ESPY. I saw the majority of Kelly Majam's 30 home runs (of UH's national record breaking 158.) And I saw the way that softball-related gear flew off the shelves here at home (I may have bought a t-shirt or..three.)
You see the truly unique thing about Women's Softball during this time is the buzz that it generated. Games were free so people were regularly turned away at the gate (the limited seating was first come first serve.) And even then they'd congregate around the fences to watch. Fans began to recognize the players, both on and off campus. And Bob Coolen became one of the most popular men on campus. Recruiting went through the roof, and now, hopefully, the foundation has been laid for a fully sustainable program. Congratulations to the Wahine's on a tremendously successful season. They should be proud of all that they've accomplished.