Eight is great

Portland State softball swept a four-game conference series over the weekend, marking the second time this season the Vikings have taken the brooms to Pacific Coast Softball Conference opponents at home.

Portland State softball swept a four-game conference series over the weekend, marking the second time this season the Vikings have taken the brooms to Pacific Coast Softball Conference opponents at home.

The Vikings (20–24 overall, 10–2 PCSC) mowed through Idaho State (11–32 overall, 3–9 PCSC) with ease, and outscored the Bengals 24–3 over the course of the four-game series.

“We had some really good pitching performances,” said head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. “One through four, all my pitchers threw and did a great job.”

Classifying freshman pitcher Anna Bertrand’s weekend as great would be a vast understatement. Bertrand struck out 24 Idaho State batters in 14 innings of absolutely dominating softball, including 16 in the first game of the series.

At one point Bertrand sat down 10 batters in a row on strikeouts, striking out the side in three consecutive innings from the second to the fourth. 

Sixteen strikeouts in a single game is the most by a Portland State pitcher since Mandy Hill accomplished the feat against Santa Clara in 2008, and is only two Ks short of the school record held by Michelle Hext, who struck out 18 in a 10-inning game against San Diego in 2006.

For Echo-Hawk, it was among the most dominant outings she had seen by a softball pitcher and she compared Bertrand to former Portland State great Hill.  ? ?

“I think Anna’s just getting better and it’s really nice to see her get to that level,” Echo-Hawk said. “Mandy was one of our better players to come through Portland State, and to be on the same level as a freshman—I’m just really excited to see what she does.”

Bertrand needed every ounce of that talent in the third game of the series, as the Vikings fended off the Bengals for a 1–0 victory and dashed Idaho State’s hopes of salvaging a split on the series. Fresh off her 16-strikeout performance, Bertrand went on to strike out eight in seven innings, while wiggling out of a first-inning jam that saw her throw 33 pitches.

“She, as always, was really consistent on the mound,” Echo-Hawk said. “Her demeanor was really consistent and she did a really good job of keeping hitters off balance. Her changeup was on and when people would start to get a little bit used to the changeup, she’d throw another pitch.”

With the offense scoring 24 runs in four games, it wasn’t just the pitching staff that propelled the Vikings to victory. Seniors De’Chauna Skinner and Brandi Scoggins led the charge, with Skinner batting .363 with six RBIs while Scoggins added four hits and four walks in nine at-bats.    

Skinner would break the camel’s back quickly in game four, after the Bengals jumped to an early 1–0 lead against senior pitcher Tori Rogers. Idaho State had little time to appreciate the one-run lead, as it quickly evaporated after consecutive singles by sophomore Laci Holm and freshman Danielle Lynn put runners on first and second for Portland State. Skinner laid into a 1–2 pitch from Nora Maschue and sent it over the left-field fence to put the Vikings ahead 3–1. The Vikings went on to win 7–1.

Skinner, who entered conference play batting only .143 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of just over .400, has been a different hitter since conference action began. Her home run on Sunday is her third since beginning the conference schedule.

Echo-Hawk attributes Skinner’s turnaround to a newfound level of self-confidence.

“She’s always had the power,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s our strongest kid and it was just a matter of her having a little more faith in herself, and she’s done a great job in that aspect.”

Next weekend the Vikings will leave the friendly confines of Erv Lind stadium, where they have gone 8–0 this season against conference opponents. Instead, the Vikings will travel to Orem, Utah, to face off against PCSC-newcomer Weber State.

Weber State’s softball program is in its infancy, and has struggled this season. The Wildcats have a 1–39 record, though their lone win came during conference action.

Coach Echo-Hawk remains convinced that her team will not view Weber State differently than any other team.

“I think the kids are on a mission, and they know what they have to do and they know that we control our destiny. I think with that in mind, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. They’re going to be the same team and ready all the time,” Echo-Hawk said.

Box scores
Game 1                         Innings                     R    H    E
Idaho State               001    000    0       –         1    4    3
Portland State          300    030     X       –         6    8    1

Game 2
Idaho State               001    00               –        1    5    3
Portland State          720    1X               –       10    4    0


Game 3
Portland State         000    010    0         –       1     4    0
Idaho State             000    000    0         –        0    1    1

Game 4
Portland State         034    000    0         –        7    8    1
Idaho State             100    000     0         –       1    9    0