The Vikings did everything in their power to extend their year into the postseason, but in the end even a dominating sweep of Santa Clara was not enough. Portland State won four games against the Broncos, including three shutout victories and one 10-inning thriller, yet it was rival Sacramento State that claimed the Pacific Coast Softball Conference crown with a sweep of its own.
The Vikings did everything in their power to extend their year into the postseason, but in the end even a dominating sweep of Santa Clara was not enough.
Portland State won four games against the Broncos, including three shutout victories and one 10-inning thriller, yet it was rival Sacramento State that claimed the Pacific Coast Softball Conference crown with a sweep of its own.
The Vikings ended PCSC play with a 13-7 record, tied with Loyola Marymount for second place. The Hornets did their part and swept league doormat San Diego to claim the conference’s top spot and a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 14-6 mark.
“We played really well. We had one option and that was to sweep,” Hayes said. “We did that. I was thankful we got through that first game-10 innings. I was glad we got out of it.”
Hayes said that the first game, which went 10 innings, was a catalyst for her team’s success over the weekend. In the game, senior Mandy Hill pitched every inning, struck out a career-high 16 batters and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th inning. That was after sophomore catcher Brandi Scoggins and freshman second baseman Brandi Campos knocked in three runs in the top of the inning.
“I felt once we got past that, it was going to be a weekend that would swing in our favor,” Hayes said.
Hayes said her players stepped up when they needed to most against Santa Clara.
“I think everybody who we’ve been asking to do their job did their job this weekend,” she said. “I thought our pitchers threw really well. I thought our hitters made good adjustments and did the job they needed to do against [Jackie] Morales.”
Hayes pointed to a few players that are not normally expected to contribute much offensively but who came through in big spots.
“I think Kristin Wilson and Brandi Campos had a good day at the plate, and Jenna Wilson,” Hayes said. “They really came through with the bat this weekend.”
The sweep gave Portland State a winning conference mark and overall record, leaving the Vikings at 30-27 overall and 13-7 in the PCSC. The 30 wins mark just the second time Portland State has reached that total since joining the PCSC.
“I think it’s going to be one of those years where we’re going to look back and say, ‘oh, if we only had one more game against St. Mary’s and one more game against Loyola,'” Hayes said. “The real kicker is, we know we should have. They should be pleased with the 30 wins.”
Hayes said the focus is now to discover what it takes to win the conference championship next year and said that has to be the goal. However, before the team looks to next year, they have one more game to play, tonight at 6 p.m. against Oregon State at Erv Lind Stadium.
“For some, it’s their last game of their college career. Mandy Hill is getting the start,” Hayes said. “Look for her to go out there and take care of business. I’m sure she’ll have one of the best games of her career.”
Portland State could play spoiler tonight. The Beavers are trying to sneak into the postseason as an at-large bid. Hayes said she respects Oregon State but would like her team to realize it can affect the NCAA Tournament without playing in it.
“I have a lot of respect for the Beavers,” Hayes said. “But if we can’t go, we don’t want anybody to go. It should be a fun night.”
This will be the last chance for Vikings fans to say goodbye to three seniors: Hill, outfielder Shannon Stacy and pitcher Meghan Gendron.
“I think in the end, when the last ball is thrown or the last out is made, it will be pretty emotional,” Hayes said. “Erv has been good to some of them. After four years giving everything you have, it takes a toll.”
What:Oregon State (26-29, 4-14 Pac-10) at Portland State (30-27, 13-7 PCSC)
Where: Erv Lind Stadium in Portland, Ore.
When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 6
On the air: www.goviks.com
Just a taste: Vikings fans have one last chance to say goodbye to the face of the program, Mandy Hill. Hill will get the start, and head coach Amy Hayes expects a dominant performance as Hill says goodbye to Erv Lind Stadium.