Softball sweeps series over Wildcats

The Portland State softball team swept a four-game series over Weber State on Friday and Saturday, and now the Vikings find themselves in an enviable position heading into the final week of regular season play.

The Portland State softball team swept a four-game series over Weber State on Friday and Saturday, and now the Vikings find themselves in an enviable position heading into the final week of regular season play.

With only four conference games left and a three-game lead over next weekend’s opponent, Seattle, the Vikings will only need to split their series with the Redhawks to ensure a spot in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference tournament. 

With the exception of a 3-2 cliffhanger in the series finale, the Vikings plowed through a struggling Weber State softball program (1-45, 1-13 PCSC) to even PSU’s overall record to 24-24 and raise their conference record to a league-best 14-2. 

In a season that has been largely defined by the Vikings pitching rotation, the offense carried the weekend series. PSU batters scored 34 runs on 45 hits, while senior catcher Brandi Scoggins assured her place in Portland State history by breaking the school’s career record for doubles. 

Scoggins set the career mark early, with two doubles against Wildcat pitcher Ariel Whiteman in Game 1 of the weekend series. Scoggins first tied Kiauna Anderson’s Portland State record of 40 doubles, then broke the record with an RBI-double in the top of the sixth that brought in junior shortstop Arielle Wiser.  

“She’s such a kid that doesn’t worry about that kind of stuff,” said head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. “We talked about it, but she doesn’t want attention. She just wants to play and have the team do well, so she’ll downplay it and move on like it’s no big deal.” 

With the offense scoring 34 runs over the weekend, it wasn’t just Scoggins who saw the ball well. The lineup as a whole a hit five home runs, four of them coming in Game 2 of the series alone. Junior outfielder Brandi Campos struck first with her first career home run, while senior infielder De’Chauna Skinner hit her fourth of the season and Scoggins and Alexa Morales added shots of their own in the 11-1 win.  

The offensive explosion didn’t end with home runs and doubles but continued with senior second baseman Becca Diede who, along with Scoggins, has been a model of consistency all season. Diede extended a streak that has seen her reach base safely in every PCSC game and 18 games overall, in which time she has hit safely in 16 of 18 games. 

“She’s just focused and on a mission,” Echo-Hawk said. “She’s doing everything she needs to do to stay in a good spot. She doesn’t have too many highs or too many lows. She’s pretty even-keeled when it comes to the offensive side of the game and I think that’s what’s helped her be so consistent—just the way she approaches it.”

While the Viking hitters provided more than enough support for Portland State to win without great performances from the rotation, the pitching staff did more than enough in allowing only 12 runs in 24 innings of work.

Nichole Latham and Anna Bertrand were again the stalwarts of the weekend with both pitchers winning each of their starts. The wins moved Bertrand to 13-9 on the season, while Nichole Latham now sits at 8-5. Latham’s wins over the weekend now make it 10 straight conference decisions in which she has emerged as the winning pitcher. 

“[Latham] knows what she needs to do and she doesn’t try to do too much,” Echo-Hawk said. “That’s the good thing about her is that she lets her defense work for her and doesn’t put it all on her shoulders to do everything. When you do that as a pitcher it relaxes you and it allows you to have a little bit more control and command of your pitches.”

Latham’s 10th consecutive conference win was needed in the series finale, as the Vikings narrowly avoided an upset and defeated Weber State 3-2. With Portland State scoring three in the first inning and chasing Wildcat starter BreAnn Jones before she could record an out, it looked as though it would be another game in which the offense would explode. Weber State pitchers Britinie Hardine and Angela Devries, however, combined to blank the Vikings over the next six innings while the Wildcat offense brought the score to 3-2 off a double from Heather Jackson. 

With a win on the line, senior Tori Rogers came in to close the game and collect her first career save. The seventh inning wasn’t without a bit of hand ringing, though, as Linnea Ketcher singled to lead off the inning and a sacrifice bunt moved her into scoring position. Despite the pressure, Rogers bore down and coaxed Jackson into a pop-up bunt to first before Ariel Whiteman grounded into a double play to end the weekend. 

“We had a good weekend. It was a much-needed weekend for our offense. We definitely shined a little bit more offensively than defensively. Overall, it was nice to see the kids hit well,” Echo-Hawk said. 

Line scores

Game 1                                               R    H    E
Portland State     101    121    0    –     6    12    1
Weber State        011    001    0    –     3     6     1

Game 2                                                  R    H    E
Portland State     122    33X    X    –    11    13     0
Weber State        000    01X    X    –    1      5       0

Game 3                                                  R    H    E
Weber State        010    05X    X    –    6       7     6
Portland State     542    12X    X    –    14    11    0