Vikings defense gives two away

Through most of its two doubleheaders last weekend, Portland State looked like the better softball team, as the Vikings mixed hitting, fielding and solid pitching against favored Sacramento State.

Then, with a few errant late-inning throws, it all came undone.

“We have to stop beating ourselves,” said head coach Teri Mariani.

Portland State’s (13-19, 5-3 Pacific Coast Softball Conference) hopes for a weekend sweep over the Sacramento State Hornets (27-19, 6-2 PCSC) vanished with a couple of bad throws as the Vikings were left with a split of this weekend’s doubleheaders.

In the Vikings’ two losses, they gave up seven runs, none earned.

“It’s hard to watch,” said senior pitcher Morgan Seibert. “We have so much talent on this team. Towards the end of conference play, we’ll be kicking ourselves.”

The Vikings play today in Monmouth, Ore., against Division II Western Oregon and return home tomorrow for a make-up doubleheader against the nationally-ranked Oregon Ducks.

The Vikings split Saturday’s doubleheader against the Hornets by withstanding some early wild pitching by Seibert (8-7, 4-0 PCSC) to win the opener 2-1. Seibert, the Vikings’ ace right-hander, walked home a run in the top of the first inning and then held Sacramento State scoreless the rest of the way to remain undefeated in conference play. Seibert struck out seven and walked five.

Both of the Vikings’ runs came in the bottom of the fourth inning against Sacramento State’s Brianne Ferguson (10-10). Junior Annie Peccia opened the inning with a double to right, and junior Erin Stokey followed with a single that scored Peccia. Two outs later, with Stokey still on second, designated player Kayla Lewis ripped a single to left and Stokey came around to score. It was all the Vikings would need, as Seibert kept mixing her hard inside pitches with a change-up that the Hornets could not seem to get ahold of.

In Saturday’s nightcap, the Vikings held a 3-3 tie through seven innings, but the Hornets plated three runs in the top of the eighth off freshman Michelle Hext (3-8) and won 6-3. None of the Hornets’ six runs were earned.

The Vikings scored all three runs off home runs by Lewis and Stokey.

“That’s unusual for us, but we’ll take it,” said Mariani. “I like the fact that we came from behind in both games (Saturday).”

The Vikings tied the nightcap in the bottom of the sixth on Stokey’s two-run line-drive homer to left-center, her fourth home run of the season.

“I’m a line-drive hitter. I was just trying to hit the ball hard, trying to get a base hit,” said Stokey, who hit Nicole Deatherage’s (13-7) second pitch out. It didn’t look like it was going to make it over the fence, but the umpire signaled a home run, the home crowd went nuts and the Vikings came out to congratulate Stokey at home plate.

In the top of the eighth, with no outs, Hext scooped up a routine grounder cleanly, but her throw to Peccia at third was wide and the runner came around to score. Sacramento State’s next batter, Amber Dragomir, singled and scored pinch-runner Leslie Mayhorn. Senior Megan Herscher came on in relief of Hext and allowed a run, and the Vikings were unable to start a rally in their half of the eighth and lost.

Sunday, the Vikings were forced to play as the road team on their own field at Erv Lind Stadium because of conference rules. The majority of the crowd of 200 was still dressed in Viking green, and spectators enjoyed a sunny, mild day of competitive softball.

With the Vikings ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Sacramento State showed why it is the consensus favorite to win the inaugural Pacific Coast Softball Conference title. Using a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a single, the Hornets scored a run and had the bases filled with only one out. But Seibert struck out the last two batters, both swinging, to retire the side and squash the threat.

In the top of the fourth, freshman Maggie DeWall continued her clutch hitting with runners in scoring position by doubling home junior Melanie Langley and senior Megumi Hackett with two outs and the Vikings leading 3-1. Seibert held the Hornets scoreless the rest of the way and the Vikings rolled 5-1.

In Sunday’s nightcap, things were going the Vikings’ way again. Herscher (2-4) pitched a clutch game, and the Vikings ended bases-loaded threats from the Hornets in the second and third innings. The game was scoreless after eighth innings, but in the bottom of the ninth, Peccia’s throw to senior Nichole Ivie at first went high and wide, and Sacramento State squeaked out a 1-0 win.

“When we get a good home crowd, it makes a huge difference,” Lewis said.

Wednesday’s doubleheader against No. 22 Oregon starts at 2 p.m. at Erv Lind Stadium on N.E. 57th, two blocks south of Halsey. The field is also just a couple blocks north of the MAX station at 60th Avenue. Corporate sponsors have ensured all games are free to students and the public this year.