Senior leadership

With last month’s loss to St. Mary’s in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series, four of Portland State’s seniors waved goodbye to the softball program that has been a part of their lives for at least the past two years.

With last month’s loss to St. Mary’s in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series, four of Portland State’s seniors waved goodbye to the softball program that has been a part of their lives for at least the past two years.

The Vikings will lose Brandi Scoggins and De’Chauna Skinner, both four-year members of the team, while also losing transfers Becca Diede and Tori Rogers, both of whom had an indelible impact on the success of both this year’s and last year’s squads.

With the loss of those four seniors, the Vikings lose three of their four most productive hitters and a pitcher that threw a no-hitter in her Portland State debut. Gone will be two members of the 2010 All-PCSC Mountain Division First Team, along with a member of the Second Team.

Scoggins, who led the Vikings in nearly every offensive category in 2010, leaves Portland State holding the school’s career doubles record at 44. Scoggins served as the team’s primary catcher, along with occasional designated player duties, and was the 2010 PCSC Mountain Division Player of the Year winner after leading the Vikings with a .367 batting average.

For Scoggins, the individual accolades were just a side dish for what would end up being the second consecutive year that the Vikings would battle for the PCSC crown.

“Honestly it’s an honor, but at the same time I really don’t look at all that stuff. All I care about is doing well for my team and giving all I have for them,” she said. “If I get awarded for that, then so be it. But it’s just icing on the cake of playing with these girls and growing as a team.”

Growing as a team would be one of the hallmarks of the 2010 club, as the Vikings started the season 10-21, a far cry from the eventual 30-27 record they would later achieve. Going 18-2 in conference helped, but no member of the team would signify the boom and bust of the 2010 club more than senior first baseman Skinner.

Entering conference with a batting average below .200 and no home runs to her name, Skinner went on to bat .380 in conference and club five home runs in only fifty at-bats. Due largely to Skinner, the Vikings overcame the slow start of the season and dominated PCSC play.

With nothing left to lose and a college softball career quickly coming to an end, Skinner found confidence that molded her into one of Portland State’s best hitters down the stretch.

“I found confidence that wasn’t based on performance, it was based on knowing that, up to this point in my career, I’ve done everything I can possibly do to prepare and be successful,” Skinner said. “I went into the batter’s box telling myself that no pitcher was better than me and they were not going to beat me.”

Though the team struggled out of the gate, it was largely due to the seniors that the Vikings were able to propel themselves to the PCSC Championship. While the team knew—from the coaching staff to the players— that it had talent, it took some time for the team to find its tempo.

“It was hard in the beginning, because it took us a while to get to know each other and mesh well on the field,” Skinner said. “Once we found the right combination though, the results were obvious with our conference record.”

Diede, a second baseman that transferred to Portland State after two seasons at Otero Junior College, hit only .197 in her first year at Portland State but quickly turned her PSU career on its head by becoming arguably the Vikings’ most consistent hitter in 2010. Diede batted .294 and paced the team in RBIs, while providing the clutch hits when they were needed.

Rogers transferred to PSU from New Mexico, and is the sole senior to be leaving the PSU pitching staff this year. Rogers, who loudly announced her arrival with a five-inning no-hitter over McNeese State, was an integral part of last season’s championship squad and a leader in this year’s pitching staff.

After playing an abbreviated season last year due to injury, Rogers knew the importance of this season.

“Last year made me really appreciate every opportunity I am given to play, and I tried to capitalize on every opportunity to the best of my ability,” Rogers said.

With the seniors moving on, it will now be up to the younger members of the team to return to the promised land of the PCSC, a challenge the departing seniors believe the team is up to.

“I expect them to continue to push themselves every day, and constantly work to make a name for PSU softball,” Skinner said. “I learned from the upper classmen when I was a freshman, so hopefully they learned a thing or two from us.”

Scoggins agreed, adding that next year, it will be new seniors that set the tone for the Vikings.

“The younger girls are filled with potential, and as long as everyone keeps their emotions in check and sees the big picture, they will succeed in more ways than just winning,” she said. “It’s going to take everyone as a team and the leadership from B-Camp [Brandi Campos] and Lacey [Holm], and they’ll go far.”