Softball Back on Track, Sandlot Style

On a clear, spring Wednesday afternoon—perfect weather for bat and ball—the Portland State softball team was perfect, defeating the Seattle University Redhawks 1–0, 4–3 in a double header. It was a rare midweek, non-conference series, and both games featured great pitching.

In game one, PSU’s Karyn Wright pitched a complete game shutout with four strikeouts and held Seattle to three hits. Last year Wright won the second game of her collegiate career at Seattle. Outside the rubber, PSU’s defense was solid as well. A 5–3 double play ended the third inning, and most of the Redhawk’s connections were easily caught by the PSU outfielders.

By game two both teams looked warmed up, and the sound of aluminum on leather filled Erv Lind Stadium. Each scored a run in the first and Seattle notched another pair in the second, taking an early 1–3 lead. In the fifth inning, PSU came back with a pair of runs to tie the game. The score was 3–3 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Pitcher Melissa Masters, who threw the first six innings, was replaced by Meagan Hendrix who pitched a nifty scoreless seventh, giving the Vikings a chance to win. After intentionally walking Brittany Hendrickson, the bases were loaded with zero outs. Aubrey Nitschelm stepped up to the plate and was clutch when her team needed it most. The junior from Redmond, Oregon, got her only hit of the day in walk-off style, giving the Vikings their first back to back wins since the second and third games of the season.

The Lady Viks continued their busy week with a road trip to Greely, Colorado, to face the Northern Colorado Bears in a three-game series. The two teams split a Friday double header 5–17, 9–1. Game one’s 17 runs given up was a season high for PSU; they also had three uncharacteristic defensive errors. In game two Masters threw her first complete game, giving up a single run on two hits. She was effective at the plate as well, going 4-for-6 on the day alongside teammate Becca Bliss. Nitschelm had a strong game two as well going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer to go up 9–0 in the second inning.

Saturday’s game three would not be a competitive outing; the Bears crushed the Vikings 2–19, setting a new low for runs allowed. All three games against Northern Colorado ended in the fifth inning.

PSU now sits with a record of 7–28. The three wins this week almost doubled the season total, but the Vikings look stuck in the seventh and final position in Big Sky standings. North Dakota and Weber State share the amount of conference wins with PSU (two), but PSU has the most conference losses (eight).

PSU softball continues a long stretch of road games next weekend against Sacramento State. The Hornets will host a doubleheader on Friday and a single Saturday game. The following weekends feature doubleheaders against the big-name schools in the state, Oregon and Oregon State. The University of Oregon Ducks were recently chosen the number one ranking softball team in both the USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll and the Softball top-25 poll. The Ducks, 34–5 at the time, gained the prestige fresh off a sweep number five ranked Washington. It marks the first number one softball ranking in school history.

Every time PSU gets the opportunity to visit Oregon or Oregon State it is a chance to shock the Pacific Northwest and legitimize their athletic department. These games matter, both to the current crop of student athletes and the next generation.