Oregon offensive downpour too much

After waiting out a hard downpour that drenched Howe Field an hour before the first pitch, Portland State managed to hang tough with the Ducks until two booming home runs helped Oregon to a six-run second inning that allowed the home team to claim an 8-4 win.

After waiting out a hard downpour that drenched Howe Field an hour before the first pitch, Portland State managed to hang tough with the Ducks until two booming home runs helped Oregon to a six-run second inning that allowed the home team to claim an 8-4 win.

Vikings head coach Amy Hayes gave senior right-hander Meghan Gendron the start, in part because Oregon had not yet seen her pitch. Gendron gave up two quick runs in the first inning, but the Vikings battled back with two runs of their own in the top of the second inning.

Senior right fielder Shannon Stacy and junior Jamee Rauch (playing third base instead of her regular spot at second base) each batted in a run to tie the score at 2-2. That is when Oregon put together its monster six-run second inning before cruising the rest of the way.

Gendron was overwhelmed by the Ducks’ offense and was removed after giving up five runs, with four of them earned.

“I was proud when we went down two and took two back. I was proud of Meg but she was a little off,” Hayes said. “I think she didn’t really go for it.”

With a frustrated Gendron back in the dugout after less than two innings of work, Ducks senior shortstop Lovena Chaput hit a three-run shot off freshman Nicole Latham, who relieved Gendron. Then freshman designated player Monique Fuiava crushed a solo shot off Latham, giving the Ducks consecutive homers and their final run.

“I just think we were too tight to start the game,” Hayes said. “We were not aggressive enough on defense. We let the ball play us instead of taking charge. Unfortunately that set the tone.”

Junior first baseman Jana Rae Slayton hit a solo shot, and sophomore catcher Brandi Scoggins batted in a run for the Vikings to make the final score 8-4. Hayes addressed her team after the game and told them to think about what they need to do better in their weekend series against Santa Clara.

“We need to think about the next 48 hours. We asked them to think about the Oregon game last night and then let go,” Hayes said. “We definitely need to learn from it.”

Despite the loss, Hayes tried to look at the positives afterward, including the awakening of the Vikings’ bats. Still, she said the team must improve its defense before taking on Santa Clara.

“We take out of it is the fact that we out-hit them. We were able to get runners on and move them into scoring position,” she said. “Today in practice we are going to do a lot of reps defensively. I thought we kind of just sat back defensively. We need to be able to play behind everybody.”

The focus now turns to four crucial games against Santa Clara. The Vikings must sweep the Broncos and hope that Loyola Marymount and St. Mary’s split their series to have a shot at the postseason. Sacramento State, which is facing off against San Diego, must also lose at least two games.

If it all works out, the Vikings will play in their second NCAA Regional Tournament in three years. If not, attention shifts to the off-season and the challenge of replacing staff ace Mandy Hill, one of three seniors the Vikings will lose to graduation. Stacy and Gendron are the other two.

Hayes’ mind was not on the future, however. She said she and her team are not thinking about anything but the need to play well this weekend.

“We’re going to come out and put four good games together this weekend. For us, it’s just about our game. If we go out and play our game, we’ll be fine,” Hayes said. “It is going to be [Santa Clara’s] last weekend at home. We’ll have to deal with their senior day.”Softball Weekend Breakdown


Portland State: Defense

For all of the Vikings’ offensive woes, their defense is quite solid. Portland State boasts the highest fielding percentage in the conference at a superb .969 and has committed the fewest errors with only 48.

Santa Clara: None

While San Diego has the worst record in the conference, the Broncos pull up the rear as far as statistics. Santa Clara has the worst batting average (.199), ERA (5.20), lowest number of home runs (14) and strikeouts (142).


Portland State: Power

As a whole, the Vikings’ offensive numbers stack up with any team in the conference, but home runs have been an issue all year. Portland State has gone yard 16 times, half as many as Loyola Marymount or Sacramento State.

Santa Clara: Offensive production

The Broncos hit at a meager .199 average and have compiled only 103 RBIs in 56 games, resulting in the fewest runs scored for the squad that has played in the most contests.

Hitting star

Portland State: Jana Rae Slayton, first baseman

Slayton has carried the Vikings at the plate, leading the team in batting average at .348, home runs with five, slugging percentage at .487 and is tied for the most RBIs with 31 on the season.

Santa Clara: Noelani Ho’opi’i, infielder

A stellar all-around hitter, Ho’opi’i owns the best batting average at .297 and has compiled the most hits with 43 on the year. She is also a threat to steal bases, leading the team with five on the season.

Pitching star

Portland State: Mandy Hill, right-handed pitcher

The Vikings ship either sails or sinks with Hill’s performance on the mound. As the heart and soul of the team, Hill will need to carry the Vikings by becoming a more disciplined pitcher against the Broncos, finding the strike zone and limiting her team-leading 55 walks.

Santa Clara: Jerrica Castagno, right-handed pitcher

With only two victories on the season, Castagno is the cream of the crop as far as pitchers go for the Broncos. The senior’s miserable win total is worsened only by her .474 ERA and 31 walks in about 68 innings. But she is the staff’s finest, which looks to be a plus for the Vikings.