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One moment in Sacramento belonged solely to Mandy Hill, who crushed a grand slam Saturday to break a 4-4 tie in the Vikings’ 11-4 win in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader against Sacramento State.

One moment in Sacramento belonged solely to Mandy Hill, who crushed a grand slam Saturday to break a 4-4 tie in the Vikings’ 11-4 win in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader against Sacramento State.

The Hornets (24-15, 6-2 PCSC) owned just about everything else. After sweeping San Diego to kick off the regular season, the Vikings (22-20, 5-3 PCSC) had a chance to put some serious distance between themselves and the rest of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference by picking up at least a split.

Instead, they were taken advantage of by the bruising bats of Sacramento State, which extended its series record over the Vikings to 33-12.

“I felt like I knew it was going to be tough,” said Portland State head coach Amy Hayes. “I knew they were going to be prepared for a battle. It was pretty much a dogfight, slugfest for both teams Saturday, and it didn’t matter what we threw to them Sunday. It just wasn’t our day.”

The Vikings split two games Saturday, with senior Mandy Hill taking the 4-3 loss in game one and picking up the relief win–and the weekend’s most dramatic moment–in game two.

In game one, the Vikings spotted the Hornets a 3-0 lead, battled back to tie it 3-3, only to lose when senior center fielder Hilary Johnson singled home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning off of Hill.

Hill got her revenge in game two, in the top of the seventh inning. She crushed a monster slam off of sophomore right-hander Brittani Clifford to make the score 8-4, and the Hornets could not recover after Portland State added three more runs in the inning.

“We got behind in both games and battled back. I think our kids played extremely hard. They were in it to win it from the first pitch,” Hayes said. “Mandy had actually struggled [until her grand slam]. You never know with her. She just got one and just cranked it.”

Sunday, as Hayes suggested, could have gone no worse for Portland State. Sacramento State won 13-7 and 12-3, and hit just about everything the Vikings pitchers served up. Hornets’ junior Jamie Schloredt was locked-in Sunday, going 7-7 with nine RBIs in two games. Hayes said she told Schloredt she was “a beast” as they shook hands after the game.

“Toward the end, nothing could go right. Our kids are pretty resilient. I’ll be honest with you, I was pretty upset,” Hayes said. “I didn’t think we brought everything we needed to bring.”

In game one on Sunday, Jana Rae Slayton provided nearly all of the offense for Portland State. She went 2-4 with a home run and six RBIs. Right fielder Sammy Taylor accounted for the Vikings’ three runs in their 12-3 game two loss. Hill took the game one loss, evening her record to 12-12. Freshman Nicole Latham was saddled with the game two loss in relief, bringing her to 8-7 and breaking a six-game winning streak.

Entering the weekend, the Vikings were a perfect 4-0 in conference play and controlled their own destiny. Now, they sit a game behind Sacramento State in the standings and are locked with St. Mary’s at 5-3, tied for second.

With only two games separating first-place Sacramento State and fourth-place Loyola Marymount University (29-15, 4-4 PSCS), the field is as wide-open as it gets entering week three of conference play.

“I think LMU rebounded this weekend. Sac State is very competitive,” Hayes said, handicapping the league. “I think our schedule is set up nicely. We’re excited to be home the next couple of weeks. We look to bounce back and fight just as hard as everybody else for that championship.”

Next up for the Vikings is a home doubleheader against Oregon Wednesday, then a four-game series at Erv Lind Stadium against St. Mary’s this weekend in what is shaping up to be a crucial stretch.

“As a coach, you want to try and find something to shut them down,” Hayes said. “We can’t dwell on it and we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to go out and take care of [the rest of the field].”