Softball team best PSU has seen in years

It would be a shame for Portland State’s most successful team in 2006 to miss the chance to play in the postseason, but for the softball team, those chances are looking a little slimmer after a four-game sweep at the hands of Sacramento State.

Now the Vikings have to take on Loyola Marymount in a three-game series to make up for a rainout earlier in the year. Win all three games, and the Vikings are in. Lose just one, and it will be Sac State representing the Pacific Coast Softball League in the postseason.

And that would be a true shame. This 34-18 Vikings softball team has been dominant, especially at home where they have lost zero games in 11 chances. Three of their sluggers hit over .300, led by Mandy Hill, who has gotten it done on the mound and in the batters box.

Hill has a .316 average, nine homers, 39 RBIs and oh, by the way, she also has a 21-7 record that includes 149 strikeouts and a 1.95 ERA. Hill is the Vikings’ first 20-game winner since 1996 and until a couple of losses last weekend she looked unhittable for much of the season.

However, Hill has had some help. Junior Kimi Daniel and senior Lacey Gorman have both improved on their 2005 batting averages and are hitting over .300. Daniel is tied for second on the team with home runs with nine and has 26 RBIs. Gorman has eight homers and 26 RBIs and is 11 for 11 on stolen base attempts.

Freshman Jackie Heide is batting .297 and leads the team with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. She also leads the team with 13 doubles and is tied for the team lead in games started and games played.

The point is that there is plenty of talent on this team from the top of the batting order on down and the pitching to make just a couple of runs count for a lot. What the Viks haven’t done well at is transferring the success they have had at home to the road, which is why they are in the position of having to play a desperate three-game series to finish the year.

The Vikings are just 7-12 away from the friendly confines of Erv Lind Stadium after the fiasco of losing four in a row to Sac State. Maybe that’s understandable for any team with just three seniors and a brand-new coach who has to follow arguably one of the biggest sports legends PSU has to offer in Teri Mariani, who coached the team a shade under 30 years.

But at this point all that is picking nits. Head coach Amy Hayes has led her team to a tremendous season, whether the Vikings destroy Loyola Marymount or succumb to a late-season malaise. You cannot ignore the successes this team has found in 2006. Or the fact that those do-or-die games are played at home, where the Vikings have yet to lose.

So here is what I suggest to you, my loyal reader. Go out to Erv Lind this Friday or Saturday and see one of the most successful team sports PSU has had in a long time. The Vikings kick off a double-header on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and wrap up the series with a single game Saturday at 11 a.m.