Still in first

Portland State split a pair of doubleheaders against Utah Valley last weekend, 2–2, as senior De’Chauna Skinner single-handedly assured that the Vikings wouldn’t return home with a losing road trip.

Portland State split a pair of doubleheaders against Utah Valley last weekend, 2–2, as senior De’Chauna Skinner single-handedly assured that the Vikings wouldn’t return home with a losing road trip.

Skinner, whose bases-loaded single through the left side won the final contest for Portland State in the bottom of the seventh, maintained PSU’s place atop the Mountain Division standings heading into next weekend’s series against conference opponent Idaho State. 

“She’s just on a mission,” coach Tobin-Echo-Hawk said. “She’s really focused and wants to end her career on a positive note and when somebody’s determined to do something, they’re going to do it. She’s been here for four years and she’s just ready for that challenge.”

The Vikings dropped the first game of the weekend to the Wolverines 3–2 after committing three errors in the bottom of the sixth that sunk an otherwise competent start from freshman pitcher Anna Bertrand. Bertrand pitched six innings, striking out five and walking four. 

After Portland State tied the game at two apiece in the top of the sixth, Wolverine third baseman Jessica Anderson led off the bottom frame by reaching on an error to first baseman Lacey Holm and would come around to score after another error by senior second baseman Becca Diede. 

Portland State was quick to right the ship however, jumping out to a quick 4–0 lead after two innings in the second game of the weekend series. Skinner led off the second inning with a solo home run, the first of three runs in the inning. Skinner, who struggled mightily in the preseason, has flipped a switch over the last eight games and has hit two home runs in conference action so far, batting .300 while posting an on-base-plus slugging percentage of .991.

The Wolverines scored runs in both the third and fourth innings, but it was all Utah Valley could muster against junior Nichole Latham. Latham pitched seven innings, striking out five without allowing a walk, while scattering five hits in her fourth complete game of the season. 

Bertrand returned to dominating form in game three of the series but was the tough-luck loser as errors once again came around to bite the Vikings. Bertrand went nine innings while matching her career high of 12 strikeouts and also didn’t walk a batter for only the second time this season. It was all for naught, however, as an error by Becca Diede extended the top of the ninth. The late-inning error proved to be costly once again, as it put runners at second and third, both of which came around to score.  

The loss wasn’t for a lack of trying, as Echo-Hawk explained that in game three, the team executed well but was outshone by a Wolverine defense that even impressed her. 

“I’m really happy with them, the game could have gone either way in that third game,” Echo-Hawk said. “They made great plays. Plays that I’ve never seen before, diving plays up the middle and crawling to second to get the runner out…I couldn’t believe it and we did everything we needed to do to win, it just didn’t fall our way.”

In a dramatic conclusion to the weekend, the Vikings entered the bottom of the seventh of game four trailing by one. Errors once again proved to be costly, as the Vikings had led 2–0 entering the top of the seventh inning. Utah Valley, however, pushed three runs across the plate as an error by junior Brandi Campos loaded the bases, which would later be cleared by Wolverine designated player Amanda Perez on a double to left field. 

Trailing 3–2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Vikings were looking at a 1–3 road trip and a drop into a first-place tie. Bad feelings on the trip home were avoided however, as senior Brandi Scoggins tied the game with a single to center and Skinner won the game with a single to left field to seal the victory 4–3. Despite allowing 11 hits in seven innings, Latham pitched her fifth complete game of the season and her third in a row in games she started. 

“Nichole has always been that pitcher, it’s just a matter of her getting back in to the swing of things and the more she pitches and the more success she gets, the better she gets. She’s right where we want her to be,” Echo-Hawk said. 

Portland State will play one non-conference game on Wednesday as the Vikings will look to exact revenge on an Oregon State team that took two from PSU before conference play began. The Vikings return to conference on Saturday against Idaho State for four games at Erv Lind Stadium.

Friday’s results

                    Inning                        R    H    E

PSU      0    0    1    0    0    1    0    2    5    3
UV        0    2    0    0    0    1    X    3    6    1
Game 1: Utah Valley 3, Portland State 2

PSU     1    3    0    1    0    0    2    7    11    0
UV        0    0    1    1    0    0    0    2    5    2
Game 2: Portland State 7, Utah Valley 2

Saturday’s results

                   Inning                                    R    H    E
UV       0    0    0    1    0    0    0    0    2    3    5    0
PSU     0    0    0    0    0    1    0    0    0    1    6    2
Game 3: Utah Valley 3, Portland State 1 (9)

UV        0    0    0    0    0    0    3               3    11    1
PSU     0    0    2    0    0    0    2               4    11    1
Game 4: Portland State 4, Utah Valley 3