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Hawaii's Home Runs Help Topple Missouri in WCWS Opener

 OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - No. 16 seed Hawaii, the nation's leading home run hitting team, continued to flex its offensive muscle on Thursday by using two home runs to top the nine-seed Missouri, 3-2, in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's College World Series at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Oklahoma. 

The Rainbow Wahine (50-14) were first on the scoreboard in the contest when sophomore Alexandra Aguirre blasted the first of Hawaii's two long balls over the center field fence in the top of the second to give her team the early 1-0 lead. 

Missouri (51-12) answered in the bottom of the third when freshman Nicole Hudson scored junior Rhea Taylor, who reached via a lead-off walk, with a double to left field that tied the game at one. 

In the fifth inning, Taylor scored again for the Tigers by leading off the inning with a solo home run to left field. 

Heading into the seventh inning, Hawaii still trailed and needed at least one run to keep the game going. Starting the inning for the Rainbow Wahine was senior Katie Grimes who singled up the middle to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. 

In the next at-bat, senior Traci Yoshikawa hit the 156th home run of the season for the Rainbow Wahine over the wall in right center to put Hawaii on top at 3-2. 

Missouri had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh, but Hawaii pitcher Stephanie Ricketts retired the side in order to clinch the win for her team in its first-ever game at WCWS. 

Ricketts went the full seven for Hawaii and allowed just one earned run on six hits with six strikeouts to improve to 30-8 on the year. 

Taking the loss for Missouri was sophomore Kristin Nottelmann, who fell to 24-8 by allowing three runs on nine hits with five strikeouts. 

Hawaii now advances to face the winner of Thursday's game between UCLA and Florida on Friday at 6 p.m. CDT. Meanwhile, Missouri will return to action on Saturday against the loser of the same game at 11 a.m. CDT in an elimination contest.