The Portland State softball team is still looking to find the groove that led them to first place in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference standings last year. This year, the team is off to a slow 4-10 start, in inter-conference games. Last weekend, the Vikings traveled to Seattle to take part in the Husky Softball Classic, hosted by the University of Washington.
The Portland State softball team is still looking to find the groove that led them to first place in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference standings last year. This year, the team is off to a slow 4-10 start, in inter-conference games.
Last weekend, the Vikings traveled to Seattle to take part in the Husky Softball Classic, hosted by the University of Washington. Portland State came up empty in all three games, falling twice to No. 7 Louisiana State and once to No. 15 Washington.
The Vikings were overmatched throughout the tournament. On Friday, in the opener against Louisiana State, Portland State only managed three hits as they were shut out 7-0. That same day, Washington knocked Viking pitching around for 15 runs in a shortened game, courtesy of a 13-run second inning by the Huskies. In fact, Portland State gave up more runs than the number of outs they recorded.
On Saturday, the Vikings had another chance against Louisiana State, but were stymied again by dominant Tiger pitching. Sophomore right-hander Dani Hofer tossed a one-hit shutout, striking out eight and only facing one batter over the limit. Once again, the Vikings fell victim to the eight-run mercy rule, as Louisiana State won by a score of 8-0 in five innings.
“We showed signs in the first inning of every game that we could be there,” Portland State Head Coach Amy Hayes said. “Against LSU we were there for four innings, but then we just kind of tumbled down a little bit, which is unfortunate because I think if you are there in one through four, you should be there four through seven, so we’ve just got to pick it up.”
The tournament highlighted some areas of concern for the Vikings. Sophomore right-hander Jessi Even continues to struggle with her command, allowing nine earned runs and walking five with zero strikeouts in Saturday’s loss to Washington. Her two losses over the weekend drop her to 0-4 on the season. Staff ace Mandy Hill, junior, also took her share of lumps, allowing seven earned to Louisiana State in her lone decision of the tournament, falling to 3-6 on the season.
“I think she’s pitching okay. I know she’s not pitching as well as she wants to, and I know she’s not pitching as well as I know she can. I think it’s early, and she’s had a lot on her shoulders,” Hayes said. “I think she’s trying to take on too much instead of just doing what she can do. I think for her it’s more to go out there and throw her game. When she does that, then she dominates.”
In addition to the pitching woes, the offense was nowhere to be found. In three games, the Vikings failed to push one runner across home plate. Junior outfielder Laura Segall was the only bright spot for Portland State, collecting three hits in the tournament.
The fact that the Vikings entered the tournament after an 11-day layoff may have been a factor in their performance. Also, nationally ranked Louisiana State and Washington are some of the best teams in the country, so despite the lopsided losses, the Vikings and their fans should not be too discouraged.
“I think if you look at our schedule, we’ve only played three teams that have not popped into the top 25 yet, so we kind of have to keep that in perspective. We’re going through some growing pains and stuff on the mound, but I think overall we’ll be picking it up going into this weekend,” said Hayes.
Portland State still has many games to play before the games on the schedule start to count towards the conference standings. The Vikings do not open their conference schedule until April 6 against Sacramento State.
In the meantime, the Vikings will return to action Friday when they travel to Las Vegas, Nev. this weekend for the Eller Media Stadium Classic, opening up against Longwood and Miami of Ohio in the first of five total games.