'Bueller' stands the test of time for Hawaii softball

Feb. 24—Better known as "Bueller " around the University of Hawaii softball program, Sabourin is off to start hotter and faster than the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder famously "borrowed " by the lead character in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Ferris Bueller The wisdom imparted by the inspiration for Rachel Sabourin's nickname seems particularly applicable these days.

Better known as "Bueller " around the University of Hawaii softball program, Sabourin is off to start hotter and faster than the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder famously "borrowed " by the lead character in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

Entering the fourth year of a college career that saw her freshman season cut short by the pandemic and a back injury that requires continued monitoring and treatment, she probably doesn't need much reminding to savor moments such as these as she makes her way through her senior season.

"It's been pretty crazy, " Sabourin said recently. "Coming in as an 18-year-old, I never knew how fast it was going to go."

Sabourin's ever-present nickname was the product of being one of three Rachels on a youth team and her favorite movie at the time ("One of the parents on the team started calling me Bueller and it just stuck, " she says ) and has followed her throughout her softball journey, to the point of being included on the official UH roster.

After going three years without a collegiate home run, the product of Centennial, Colo., already has delivered four "Bueller bombs " through eight games this season as the Rainbow Wahine open a monthlong homestand with this weekend's Bank of Hawaii Invitational.

The Rainbow Wahine will play four games over three days and face Marist today at 6 p.m. at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

Sabourin entered the season with 17 total hits, seven runs batted in and no home runs in 111 plate appearances spread over three years in the program. Two weekends into the season, which she began in a reserve role, she's 8-for-19 (.421 ) with four home runs and 11 RBIs.

Sabourin launched the first home run of her career in her first plate appearance of the season, a pinch-hit three-run go-ahead shot in a 5-3 win over Saint Mary's on opening day.

"My favorite part was rounding third and seeing my teammates just being so excited, " Sabourin said. "They've been pushing me and been the biggest part of this whole senior experience. It gives me chicken skin thinking about it. It was so surreal."

She made it 2-for-2 when she went deep against Utah Tech the next day and added two more during UH's trip to the UNLV Desert Classic last weekend in Las Vegas.

Slated for a reserve role entering the season to manage the strain on her back, Sabourin moved into the starting lineup at third base in a lineup shuffle necessitated by an injury to first baseman Dallas Millwood during the Las Vegas tournament.

Along with her power at the plate, she turned in the defensive highlight of the young season with a diving backhand stop and a throw from her knees for the final out of freshman Key-annah Campbell-Pu'a's no-hitter on Sunday against Montana.

"I have been rewatching Bueller's play so many times, " Campbell-Pu'a said this week. "It was honestly an ESPN-worthy play right there. ... It was an amazing play and honestly the whole no-hitter wouldn't have happened without that play."

As a member of the team during the pandemic, Sabourin had the option to return for a fifth year but has decided to finish her UH playing career this season as she continues to manage her back.

"When I told my coaches about not coming back for my fifth year they were really thoughtful and really understood why, " Sabourin said. "They wanted to make sure my health was coming first."

Sabourin said she often reports to the training room an hour before warmups to get extra stretching and treatment. While she's not one to take days off, UH coach Bob Coolen has advised her to limit her workload during the week.

"I told her less is better. Get what you need to do done and take yourself out of drills and heat it up or ice it down, whatever you need to do to, " Coolen said. "We've talked about her sustaining her health rather than you need to do this or you need to do more and she's embraced that."

Sabourin embraced the idea of playing in Hawaii when she visited on a family vacation when she was 9, and her experiences since first putting on a UH uniform have taught her to stay in the moment.

"Since I was 12 my parents have always been telling me to ride the wave, " Sabourin said. "Go with the flow of the game and to not focus on a past wave. Ride the wave and focus on the next pitch."

Bank of Hawaii Invitational