Softball squad faces tough competition

The Portland State softball team will have a busy spring break before beginning their conference season soon after returning for spring classes.

“Right now, we’re just trying to figure out our hitting woes,” said Portland State coach Teri Mariani.

“We’re having shorter practices with finals coming up. We have nothing scheduled this weekend so the girls can have time to prepare for their academic finals.” The team is optimistic coming off three straight shutouts to close the San Diego Tournament. A large part of their optimism was because of recently named WAC Pitcher of the Week, sophomore Morgan Seibert.

“She had a very deserving weekend. Even though it wasn’t conference play, I’m glad she got recognized,” Mariani said.

Seibert will be called upon again against some strong teams in the coming weeks.

“I hope she can keep this up. She has a very bad cut on the index finger of her pitching hand that keeps slicing back open. So, she’s not pitching this week and hopefully she can get healed up. If she starts off the spring trip not pitching well, though, I told her I’d cut it back open because she’s been so strong pitching with it,” Mariani said.

First up for the Vikings, on Saturday, March 24, is Stanford University, which Mariani said would be the week’s strongest opposition.

“Stanford is off to a very good start, but we played them tough a couple of years ago so hopefully we can play well this time,” Mariani said.

A day later, the Vikings will play Santa Clara, followed by St.Mary’s on Monday.

“We split with Santa Clara and St. Mary’s last year, in very close games. This year I’m planning on going in there and sweeping both double headers,” Mariani said.On March 27, the Vikings will play Pacific and then head to Sacramento State on Thursday.

“We played Pacific well in the tournament this year, and then we play Sacramento State. Those last four games are going to be pretty evenly matched,” Mariani said.

Despite the Vikings’ hitting issues and the busy schedule, Mariani expects a lot out of the team.

“We should have a pretty good spring trip. If we come back lower than .500, then I’ll be upset,” Mariani said.

The second day into the term, the Vikings will have their home opener with a pair of games against Oregon at Erv Lind Stadium.

“We play Oregon to start our big homestand. Oregon is a different type of team than last year. Back then they had home runs coming out the kazoo. This year they picked up more speed. You could have had a four-run lead on them and not feel safe going into the last inning, because every one of them could hit it over,” Mariani said.

Following Oregon, the Vikings will face the dominant conference leader, Fresno State.

“Two days later we have our conference opener against Fresno. They’re No. 1 in the conference and No. 7 overall. We could not have a tougher conference opener than that,” Mariani said.

The Vikings are hoping to perform well in Western Athletic Conference play this year.

“We’re hoping to finish third or fourth in the WAC this year. I think that’s realistic,” Mariani said.

“Fresno and Hawaii will probably be the top two, followed by us and Loyola, but I don’t know in what order. After that, we have San Jose and Tulsa. San Jose beat us at the Fullerton Tournament, but that shouldn’t happen,” Mariani concluded.