Softball faces key weekend

Portland State closes out Pacific Coast Softball Conference play at home this weekend with a four-game series that will ultimately decide the Vikings’ postseason fate.

Portland State closes out Pacific Coast Softball Conference play at home this weekend with a four-game series that will ultimately decide the Vikings’ postseason fate.

The first-place Vikings (27-16, 12-4 PCSC) host the Weber State Wildcats (12-34, 3-13 PCSC) in a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday at Erv Lind Stadium in northeast Portland.

After taking three of four games from Northern Colorado last weekend, Portland State sits one game ahead of Utah Valley (11-5 PCSC) and two games in front of UNC (10-6 PCSC).

With the division pennant mathematically within reach for three teams, the outcome of Portland State’s series with the Wildcats will largely determine the division’s final standings. A series sweep will give the Vikings the title and hosting rights to next week’s PCSC Championship Series, but any losses will have to be matched by Utah Valley for Portland State to make the postseason.

The Vikings of this year, though, are no strangers to adversity. Portland State began the conference schedule by losing three of four games to Utah Valley—granting them the tiebreaker advantage over Portland State. Since then, the Green Machine has gone 14-1 and risen from fourth to first in the standings.

Included in that stretch was a 10-game winning streak on April 16–26 that marked a new Division-I era school record. The Vikings have also won four divisional Pitcher or Player of the Week honors since dropping the series to Utah Valley, raising the team total to 10 selections this season.

The Vikings pitching staff of senior Nichole Latham and sophomore Anna Bertrand has accounted for the majority of honors this season—and rightly so. The duo has combined for a 2.33 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .223 batting average—the lowest in the league.

Bertrand was named this week’s Mountain Division Pitcher of the Week for the second-straight week, marking her third selection of the season. She went 3-0 with a save last week, earning just four runs for a 1.45 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 19.1 innings. Going into this weekend, Bertrand has won her last six decisions from the pitching circle.

Latham accents Portland State’s pitching prowess, and her impact on the school and conference record books proves her worth. Last weekend, Latham became just the fourth player in PCSC history to earn 50 career wins. She also became the seventh player in league history to record her 400th strikeout. With 406 Ks to her name Latham holds the fifth spot in Portland State’s books.

The Vikings are also succeeding at the plate, where the team is hitting a league-leading .349 in conference games. They also lead the PCSC with a .403 on-base percentage.

Sophomore infielder Carly McEachran leads the PSU hitters in batting average (.438), RBIs (14) and home runs (3). She also tops the Viking charts with a .771 slugging percentage.

Also hitting well are junior outfielder Jenna Krogh and junior catcher Lacey Holm. Krogh is hitting .412 in league games and .391 on the season, while Holm leads the team with a .397 overall batting average and ranks third with a .375 average in league play.

In this weekend’s critical series, the Vikings will be facing a Weber State team that is putting up impressive numbers of its own. Freshman infielder Ashley Huddleston became just the fourth player in the league to hit her second grand slam of the season last week, and senior relief pitcher Britinie Hardine ranks second in the PCSC with a 1.07 ERA in conference. Hardine is holding batters to a .208 average.

On the base path, Wildcat junior outfielder Erika James leads the league with 35 stolen bases in 40 attempts—which surpasses the PCSC’s previous single-season record of 21 steals, set in 2006 by Portland State’s Laura Segall.

The winner of the Mountain Division title will host this year’s PCSC Championship Series, which pits the top team from the division against the Coastal Division leader. The best-of-three series on May 13–14 will determine what team earns the conference’s entry into the NCAA tournament.

Last year, the Vikings took the Mountain Division pennant and advanced to the Championship Series, but were defeated two games to one by St. Mary’s.

First pitch is set for noon on both Saturday and Sunday. Live stats and audio will be available at, with former head coach Teri Mariani calling the play-by-play action.  ?