In three tournaments this season the Portland State softball team has played with unpredictable results having winless, perfect and average outcomes. The Vikings will aim to change their inconsistent and unpredictable results in the Kansas Jayhawk Classic this weekend when they face off against the likes of Minnesota, Kansas and Eastern Michigan.
In their first weekend the Vikings came home from the Las Cruces Invitational without a win to show for their efforts. However, in their second weekend tournament at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic they had plenty of wins, five to be exact, but this time they left the tournament without a loss. So, in one weekend it was a complete turnaround. Then last at the UNLV Invitational last weekend the Viks escaped some tough competition with an impressive three wins, two losses and a tie with Team China. In their last 10 games the Vikings seem to be playing without the jitters they experienced during the first weekend, compiling an 8-2 record over this span.
“Last weekend sounds okay, but in reality I think we should have come out of there 4-1,” said first-year head coach Amy Hayes. “All and all we beat Virginia Tech who is just out of the top 25 last week and are in the top 25 this week. We played very well with Arizona State after three innings. It is just a matter of us knowing that we can win.”
A significant reason for the Viking’s success in the UNLV Invitational was the outstanding play at the plate of freshman utility player Jackie Heide. Heide’s antics last weekend earned her Pacific Coast Softball Conference player of the week honors this week. She was especially impressive in the batter’s box, accumulating a combined .412 batting average, with five RBI’s and a .647 slugging percentage in the weekend’s five games. Her weekend also included a bit of timely hitting.
“I just went up there and batted with confidence and tried not think very much when I was at the plate,” Heide said. “I always try to go up with confidence because I know that my team is behind me, supporting me. My best performance was probably the UNLV game when we were down by a run in the seventh inning. I hit a two run home run to put us ahead. It kept the team alive and kept us going.”
The Vikings certainly have a tough task ahead facing Big 10 powerhouse Minnesota and another formidable opponent from the Big 12 in tournament host Kansas on their schedule. The team will definitely need to be playing well in all the three main facets of the game, hitting, pitching and defense, in order to strike a win against one of these marquee programs.
“I think that Kansas is probably going to be the toughest team this weekend,” Hayes said. “Kansas has also been receiving votes for the top 25. They have played some teams fairly tough and lost games that they should have won, which is where everyone is right now. It will be nice to play Minnesota, and hopefully we can pick off another Big 10 team. Any time you can take three games off of Big 10 teams it says something about your program.”
The Jayhawks have an 11-10 record on the season and are led by seniors Destiny Frankenstein and Serena Settlemier, who have put up some remarkable statistics so far. Each player has nine homeruns and the two have a combined 41 RBI’s.
This season the Gophers have established an 8-9 record and have been especially hot of late, winning eight of their last 12 games. Junior infielder Lisa Parks has given the Gophers a spark this season with two homeruns and 10 RBI’s in only 38 at bats. Another key component to the Gopher’s success this season has been junior catcher Megan Higginbotham, who has a .447 batting average, one homerun and 11 runs in only 47 at bats this season.
“I don’t think any team in particular is going to be a challenge this weekend,” Heide said. “Every team is going to be a challenge and we need to be on top of our game. Everybody needs to play well because everyone plays a big part in our team. I think we are going to do really well if we come out to play. I believe we will come home 5-0.”