PSU softball wins division title

With a four-game sweep of the Seattle Redhawks over the weekend, Portland State punched its ticket for the inaugural Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series against the Coastal Division’s Saint Mary’s College.

With a four-game sweep of the Seattle Redhawks over the weekend, Portland State punched its ticket for the inaugural Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series against the Coastal Division’s Saint Mary’s College.

While the Vikings were quick to clinch their spot in the tournament by sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader against Seattle 4-1 and 1-0, it was the PSU seniors combining to hit 10 for 22 in Sunday’s doubleheader that carried the Vikings to 6-3 and 7-3 victories on senior day.

“It’s a good feeling, but it’s a little too early to celebrate,” said head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. “We still have to win outright to make it worth it, so we’re really excited, but we’re trying to focus on next weekend.”

The Vikings quickly slammed the door on Seattle on Saturday, as dominant pitching performances by freshman Anna Bertrand and junior Nichole Latham left little work to the Vikings offense. Bertrand, whose freshman season has been as dominant as any seen in Portland State history, pitched her 12th complete game of the season, one-hitting the Redhawks in Game One.

Seattle led briefly in that first game, as Bertrand’s only hiccup of the afternoon resulted in a run scored on a RBI single by Allegra Wilde. Bertrand, who had loaded the bases with consecutive walks and a hit by pitch with only one out, was bailed out of further trouble when junior shortstop Arielle Wiser saved a couple of runs on a diving stop that kept Wilde’s RBI single on the infield. 

“It was pretty big. It’s one of those where sometimes pitchers need to know their defense is going to work for them,” Echo-Hawk said. “Arielle did a nice job and she’s been working hard on her dives lately so it’s great to see her finally get one.”

Bertrand came back to strike out Katie Antich swinging to end the inning—one of Bertrand’s 11 strikeouts on the day, in what was her fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.

With one gem already tossed by the Viking rotation, PSU would need every bit of junior Nichole Latham’s shutdown performance in the second game as the Vikings clinched the Division title and berth in PCSC tournament with a 1-0 victory over Seattle in Game Two on Saturday. 

Latham pitched seven innings of shutout softball and allowed only five base runners on three hits and two walks, while striking out six. The victory, Latham’s eighth in conference, was her second shutout of the season and helped to lower her already miniscule conference ERA to a barely visible 0.60. 

The Redhawks’ Kelsey Reynolds assured, though, that the PSU offense would have to work in order to clinch the title by matching Latham pitch-for-pitch over her first 5 2/3 innings. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth Reynolds’ luck ran dry, as senior second baseman Becca Diede singled to center field on a 1-2 pitch before Lacey Holm laced a double to right-center to put the Vikings on top 1-0. 

On Sunday, with their ticket to ride in the PCSC Series already punched, PSU’s seniors propelled the Vikings to two more victories on the senior day. Portland State’s three senior position players combined for 10 hits, eight RBIs and seven runs, while senior Tori Rogers pitched seven strong innings in the series finale. 

The Vikings stormed out of the gate in Sunday’s first game, scoring all six of their runs in the first three innings. Senior De’Chauna Skinner drove in the first run of the contest on a bases-loaded walk before Wiser brought in Diede on a single to right field. 

After the Vikings scored another run in the top half of the second, Seattle tied the game at three apiece in the bottom of the inning, knocking sophomore starter Kendra Suhr out of the game with three runs earned in 1 1/3 innings. Bertrand was brought in to quell the surging Seattle lineup, and against Bertrand the Redhawks’ bats once again went silent.

Bertrand earned her fifteenth win of the season and struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings, bringing her season total to 201 strikeouts, which is good for fifth-best on the Portland State single-season strikeout chart. 

“[Bertrand] has been really consistent all year and when we go to make the lineup there’s a lot of confidence that goes into having her in the lineup and it’s not just from me, it’s from her teammates and they’ve really started to back her up on the offensive side of things,” Echo-Hawk said. 

The final game of the weekend belonged to the seniors. Rogers pitched a complete game, allowing three runs in seven innings while striking out eight. Seattle’s starting pitcher Reynolds kept the PSU lineup at bay going into the top of the fifth, as the Red Hawks held a tenuous 2-0 lead before the Vikings exploded for four runs in the inning. 

In their half of the fifth, Portland State leadoff hitter sophomore Alyssa Roblez got on board before Diede knocked her home on an RBI single to center. After a Holm walk put runners on first and second, senior first baseman Skinner quickly turned on an 0-1 pitch that landed beyond the left field fence for a three-run home run, her team-leading fifth of the season.  

Seattle would respond with one run in the bottom of the fifth before the Vikings put the nail in Seattle’s coffin, scoring another three runs in the top of the sixth. 

“I think [the seniors] were just going out to have fun and enjoy the day, the moment and everything that comes with it and not put any pressure on themselves and just enjoy what they’re doing and the people that are around them,” Echo-Hawk said. 

After posting Portland State’s best conference record at 18-2, the Vikings now look forward to the postseason matchup with Saint Mary’s College this weekend. The best-of-three series will take place in Moraga, Calif., on Friday and Saturday. First pitch of Game One is set for noon Friday, and Game Two is slated to begin at noon the next day. If needed, Game Three is scheduled to begin 20 minutes after the conclusion of the second game.

Line scores

Saturday                Game One            R    H     E
Seattle                   010    000    0    –    1    1      1
Portland State        030    001    X   –    4    8      0
    Win-Bertrand (14-9), Loss-Klein (4-8), Save-None
                              Game Two
Seattle                   000    000    0    –    0    3      0
Portland State       000     001   X    –    1    5      0
    Win-Latham (9-6), Loss-Reynolds (8-12), Save-None

Sunday                Game Three
Portland State      213    000    0     –    6    13     0
Seattle                 030    000     0     –    3     9      3
    Win-Bertrand (15-9), Loss-Ulrich (4-11), Save-None

                             Game Four
Portland State      000    043    0      –    7    12     1
Seattle                    002    010    0    –    3    9       1
    Win-Rogers (4-10), Loss-Reynolds (8-13), Save-None

Senior day quick stats
Becca Diede
Second base
3 for 7, 3 RBIs, 3 runs

Brandi Scoggins
4 for 8, 1 RBI, 2 runs

De’Chauna Skinner
First base
3 for 7, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 runs

Tori Rogers
7 innings pitched, 8 Ks, 3 earned runs