Softball season comes to an end

Portland State’s 2010 softball season came to an end Saturday, as Saint Mary’s took the final two games of a best-of-three series to win the inaugural Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series.

Portland State’s 2010 softball season came to an end Saturday, as Saint Mary’s took the final two games of a best-of-three series to win the inaugural Pacific Coast Softball Conference Championship Series.

After a dominating start Friday in Game One, where freshman Anna Bertrand tossed a complete-game shutout for a 1-0 win, Portland State went on to lose the next two games 3-0 and 7-4. 

With errors defining the last two losses of the Viking season, head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk is less than satisfied at how the season ended. 

“It was pretty disappointing, pretty somber as far as everybody knowing that we were the better team and that we should have been the ones going on and we weren’t,” Echo-Hawk said. “It was all-around disappointing, and not to mention sad for the seniors. It was a great senior class and they had done a lot for Portland State—and this program—so it was sad to end their careers that way.”

The Vikings, who coasted into the league championship by virtue of an 18-2 run in conference action, were brimming with confidence after taking Game One in convincing fashion.  Bertrand struck out 11 in seven innings, allowing only two hits and a walk as Saint Mary’s struggled to find offense against the PCSC Mountain Division’s Pitcher of the Year. 

The Vikings, despite scoring just one run in Friday’s game, still managed six hits off of Saint Mary’s starting pitcher Brittany Linton, but weren’t able to bring a runner around to score until the top of the seventh inning. 
After a leadoff single by freshman outfielder Sadie Lopez put a runner on with no outs, freshman infielder Carly McEachran laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Lopez in scoring position with one out. Junior right fielder Brandi Campos, who was 4-11 on the series, worked a full count before hitting a single to right field that brought in the game-winning run. 

With Bertrand dominant in Game One, the Vikings entered Saturday riding a wave of confidence.

“[We were] pretty confident,” Echo-Hawk said. “[Bertrand had] been throwing well all year and we just had a ton of confidence, thinking that we were going to win, and it just didn’t work out that way.” 

Portland State’s confidence turned into disappointment as the defense faltered in Games Two and Three on Saturday, resulting in six of the ten runs scored by the Gaels being unearned. 

While the game-saving action of the Portland State defense worked in Game One, with Becca Diede making a fully extended dive to complete a critical double play on a line drive that kept the Gaels from bringing in the tying run, the PSU defense faltered for the rest of the series. 

Echo-Hawk believes that the pressure of a championship may have played a part.

“I think they were tight and trying to be perfect,” Echo-Hawk said. “They just weren’t being themselves and weren’t focusing on the little things that we needed to do. They just rushed themselves a lot.”

Defensive miscues would quickly betray Game Two-starter Nichole Latham, as Portland State committed an error in the top of the first that handed St. Mary’s an early 1-0 lead they would never relinquish. Linton, who would start each game of the series for the Gaels, silenced the Vikings lineup by allowing just four hits over seven innings and walking none. 

Another PSU error in the third led to a second run for the Gaels, and an RBI-single in the seventh brought the final score to 3-0, Saint Mary’s. Junior pitcher Latham wound up being the tough-luck loser, taking the loss despite pitching a complete game—striking out seven while allowing three runs, only one of them earned. 
With the offense sputtering in Game Two, the Vikings were quick to get on the board with two runs in the top of the first of Game Three. With the benefit of a Saint Mary’s error, the Vikings scored two on a bases-loaded knock by senior first baseman De’Chauna Skinner that went through the legs of Gaels shortstop Rebecca Sabatini. 

Perhaps though as the first sign of things that weren’t to come, Saint Mary’s answered right back in the bottom of the second on a two-run home run courtesy of Gaels left fielder Michelle Mounts. The home run, hit off Bertrand, was the first long ball she had given up since March 7 against New Mexico State. 

The Vikings would take their last lead of the season in the top of the second, as freshman outfielder Danielle Lynn scored on a single by Campos after leading off the inning being hit by a pitch. 

Portland State’s season unwound in the bottom of the second as the Gaels took advantage of two Viking errors, leading to four runs, all of which were unearned. After Tiffany Gonzales singled to lead off the inning, an error by sophomore first basemen Lacey Holm allowed Mandy Camuso to reach base. Gonzales would come around to score the first run of the inning on a throwing error from McEachran at third before Kayla Gonzales and Maryanne Cronin drove in the rest of the runs on a single and double, respectively. 

Despite losing the series on Saturday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort by the pitching corps. Both Bertrand and Latham pitched exceptionally well, a sentiment reflected by Echo-Hawk.

“[The pitching] was exactly what we wanted and it’s just one of those things,” she said. “You wake up, and in the game of softball on any given day, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in the past, you just have to play the game and we weren’t on our A-game Saturday.” 

Despite the loss of the PCSC series, it’s hard to look at the Vikings 2010 season and not be happy with the end result. Considering that seven of the players were freshmen, four of which started all season, simply making it this far was a testament to the team in its own right. With the freshmen getting a taste of post-season play and the agony of defeat, Echo-Hawk hopes that this weekend’s lessons will be remembered next year.  

“It’s one of those [experiences] where, if you look at where we were, as far as how many people we lost and how many newcomers we had and freshmen—freshmen that were starting—you couldn’t ask for a better experience to have in their freshmen year,” Echo-Hawk said. “So they know exactly what it takes to get there. That’s the thing I told them at the end of the game is ‘Remind yourself what this feels like next year, so that you do everything so that you’re not going to feel this way again.'”