PSU softball season underway

Fresh off their fifth appearance in the NCAA postseason in the last eight years, the Portland State softball team is gearing up for another exciting season, this time under first year coach Barb Sherwood.
Problem is, you’ll have to wait a while to see them.
Starting this week, the Vikings embark on an incredible road trip; their first 25 games will be played away from home, with tournaments being played in Tempe, Ariz., Las Vegas, Nev., and Northridge, Palo Alto and Santa Barbara, Calif.
Not the easiest way to break in a young roster.
The Vikings lost four starters off last season’s squad, including Anna Bertrand, arguably the greatest pitcher the program has ever seen. Bertrand is the Vikings all-time leader in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts among other statistics.
What they do return is a wealth of underclassmen that saw significant action last year, including six sophomores. Joining in the mix will be seven freshmen, all looking to make a name for themselves.
The Vikings finished under .500 last season overall, but were lights out in conference, going 14–4 and winning the regular season conference title.
Sherwood makes the cross-country leap to join PSU. For the past five seasons she has been the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Virginia Tech. She has also spent time at Florida State.
Despite the big transition, Sherwood says she’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m incredibly excited about working at Portland State and being involved in the softball program,” she said. “I would like to thank Torre
Chisholm for the opportunity to be a part of a strong athletic program. I look forward to the future and moving forward in a positive direction. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work at PSU.”
She has big shoes to fill, as the Vikings look to maintain their torrid pace as of late.
She’ll get some help though, as a strong nucleus returns from last year. With six starters—led by third baseman Crysta Conn and infielder Brittany Hendrickson
—and 12 letter-winners back overall, the cupboard is stocked and ready to go when the season opens in Tempe, Ariz., for the first of many out-of-conference tournaments.
The Vikings will lean on Conn as a leader; she is one of only three seniors on the team.
Her head coach knows the importance of having senior leadership, and is counting on Conn to have a big impact.
“Crysta is a phenomenal third baseman, a strong hitter and a great leader. I am looking for her to have a tremendous senior season,” Sherwood said.
Hendrickson, the team’s most decorated returner, was an all-Big Sky first team selection last year as a sophomore. The Thurston High graduate will be the team’s anchor, as she was the team’s Triple Crown winner last season, leading the team in batting average (.350), home runs (9) and RBI (45).
While the 25-game road trip—spread over a month and one week—will be a daunting task, it’s an opportunity for a young team to grow quickly, and once conference play hits, be ready to tackle another grueling Big Sky schedule.
Once the Vikings finally step off the bus and get to play a home game, they will welcome the Idaho State Bengals on March 21 and 22. The Vikings home field is Erv Lind Stadium, in Normandale Park in Northeast Portland.
A young squad, new coach and key returners; it’s going to be an interesting ride for the Vikings this season.
It’s just going to be a while before we get to see it.