Viking bats can’t touch Lion pitchers

The Viking softball team’s road woes continue as the squad drops four games to Pacific Coast Softball Conference-leading Loyola Marymount this past weekend.

The Viking softball team’s road woes continue as the squad drops four games to Pacific Coast Softball Conference-leading Loyola Marymount this past weekend. Sinking Portland State’s record to 3-8 in PCSC contests and 18-30 in overall play.

As Portland State came up short in every game of the series, the Vikings’ hopes of repeating as PCSC champions shrank to less than a glimmer. Entering the series the Vikings sat in fourth place in the conference, a mere 2.5 games behind the first-place Lions. After the four-game trouncing, the Vikings now sit 6.5 games out of first place.

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader was the Vikings’ best opportunity to steal one in the series. The match-up was a pitching duel for the ages, pitting both staffs’ best on the hill against each other. Junior right-hander Mandy Hill was on her game, allowing two runs on eight hits and one walk, while striking out eight Lion batters. Hill’s counterpart on the mound, freshman right-hander Melissa Dykema, played that much better, allowing only one run on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

Hill and Dykema kept the bats at bay and runs off the board, maintaining a 1-1 score through the seventh inning. The teams headed into extra innings still knotted at one run apiece. The Vikings flirted with scoring in their half of the inning, leaving two players on base, including freshman catcher Brandi Scoggins on third base after a Hill double. In the same inning the Lions ensured the victory with a dramatic walk-off slam by junior third baseman Tracy Cook with two outs, taking the game 2-1.

Saturday’s second match-up was not quite as close as the first. Lion’s junior right-hander Tiffany Pagano controlled the Portland State offensive attack, shutting out the Vikings on only three hits and eight strikeouts. Janice Damo, Portland State’s freshman right-hander, suffered her eighth loss of the season. The frosh gave up one run in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings, two of which came off the bat of senior Kirsten Whitt, who took Damo deep in both the third and fifth innings. Courtesy of Whitt’s fiery hot day at the dish, the Lions secured the second game of the series by a margin of 3-0.

In the third game of the series, under the hot California sun on Sunday, the Vikings finally got their offense on track. A two-run first inning was headlined by three hits and both junior left fielder Stephanie Bean and Hill crossing home plate to give Portland State a lead in the first game of the doubleheader.

The promise brought on by the first inning’s offense soon subsided, as Loyola Marymount pieced together a two-run inning of its own in the third. The Loins knotted the game up at two runs each thanks to a two-run shot over the outfield by sophomore center fielder Kirsten Slouber, marking her fourth big fly of the season. Hill served up another homerun in the fourth inning, this time to sophomore shortstop Megan Ackerman to give the Lions a 3-2 lead. But, in the fourth, Viking sophomore first baseman Jana Rae Slayton brought the teams equal once again with a leadoff blast of her own. With the game on the line in the bottom of the seventh inning, sophomore left fielder MiaSarah Cesena laced a triple down the right-field line to score the deciding run and give the Lions a 4-3 victory.

Any momentum the Vikings manufactured in game three was quickly expelled in the series’ fourth and final contest. In a complete shellacking, three Portland State throwers–Damo, Hill and sophomore right-hander Jessi Even-were touched up for 17 hits, 10 runs and one homerun by Ackerman. The Viking offense failed to muster any support for those on the mound, only connecting on one hit in the ballgame. Bean squeaked in a leadoff hit to begin the game, and the Vikings didn’t reach base again until sophomore right fielder Jackie Heide touched down on first on an error to begin the fifth inning.

The Lions scored runs in bunches, assembling two five-run innings in both the second and fifth innings. The game was called in the fifth inning after the Lions accumulated a 10-0 lead. With the victory, Pagano tied the Loyola Marymount all-time record with 22 career shutouts.

Loyola Marymount’s sweep of the Vikings marks only the second time Portland State has been swept in a PCSC series. The other conference sweep came at the hands of Sacramento State late last season.

The Vikings will hit the diamond again next Saturday and Sunday in a weekend of doubleheader match-ups against Santa Clara at the friendly confines of Erv Lund Stadium.