Vikings sweep Bengals over the weekend

Portland State softball broke out the brooms over the weekend, as the Vikings swept the Idaho State Bengals in a four-game Pacific Coast Softball Conference series in Chubbuck, Idaho.

Portland State softball broke out the brooms over the weekend, as the Vikings swept the Idaho State Bengals in a four-game Pacific Coast Softball Conference series in Chubbuck, Idaho.

The Vikings won Saturday’s contests, 4-3 and 3-2, before coming alive at the plate on Sunday to win 12-2 in five innings of play and 13-5 in six.

The Vikings (17-15, 5-3 PCSC) bumped up to second place in the PCSC’s Mountain Division standings. They now sit two games behind top-ranked Northern Colorado (11-29, 7-1 PCSC).

Idaho State (7-27, 0-8 PCSC) nearly spoiled PSU’s hopes for a sweep in Game 1 of the series, where the Bengals held a 1-0 lead going into the final inning. But it was a late-game revival that lifted Portland State out of its slump.

Junior outfielder Jenna Krogh singled to lead off the inning and senior shortstop Arielle Wiser laid down a sac-bunt that advanced Krogh to second. Junior catcher Lacey Holm then hit an RBI single to lock up the score at 1-all.From there, the Vikings took the advantage off RBI singles from freshman Kayla Norrie and sophomore Carly McEachran before freshman Rebecca Bliss worked a bases-loaded walk to give PSU a 4-1 lead.

After holding the Bengals to five hits, senior pitcher Nichole Latham found herself in trouble in the bottom of the seventh, when she gave up three doubles for two Idaho State runs. With the win in jeopardy, sophomore Anna Bertrand was brought in to close the game. With no outs and the Bengals’ tying run on second base, Bertrand sat the next three batters on two groundouts and a swinging strikeout to seal the victory and earn PSU’s first save of the season in the process.

In Game 2, Bertrand returned to the pitching circle to take the start. PSU took the lead in the second inning off a solo home run from

sophomore Danielle Lynn before expanding it to 2-0 in the fourth thanks to an RBI single to left field from sophomore Sadie Lopez.

From there, the teams went back and forth. The Bengals tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the fourth before the Vikings reclaimed the lead with a run in the top of the fifth to go up 3-2. But again, the final inning brought with it late-game dramatics.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Bengals’ leadoff hitter Desirae Hoffman put a ball out to left field, but Lopez made a

diving catch to prevent the base hit. Lopez made a defensive stop on the next at-bat with a leaping catch at the fence that robbed the Bengals of a game-tying home run.

“Sadie had two outstanding plays in the seventh that helped seal the victory,” head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said in a statement released by the school. “She saved the game with the catch at the fence.”

In a complete-game effort, Bertrand gave up two runs off four hits with six strikeouts and three walks.

 On Sunday, Portland State’s defensive feats were replaced by an offense come alive. Over two games, the Vikings hit .481 as a team and chalked up a total of 25 runs on 26 hits.

“It was nice that our bats finally came around,” Echo-Hawk said. “Idaho State kept coming back, but every time they would score we would answer right back. Our offense really carried us [on Sunday].”

Latham took the start in Game 3 and earned her 10th win of the season with a three-hit effort over four innings, but it wasn’t without some early-inning stress. Idaho State took a two-run lead in a top half of the first inning that featured just one hit but also three walks, a hit batter and a passed ball. 

The Viking offense, though, had Latham covered. With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, PSU came alive with four runs on three hits. The Green Machine continued the slew of runs in the third inning when the Viks added another eight runs from eight hits and a Bengals fielding error.

Making her first pitching appearance since transferring to PSU from Oregon State, junior Karmen Holladay took over for Latham in the top of the fifth. In one inning of work before the mercy rule took effect, she struck out two batters, walked one and hit one.

“Nichole did a good job of coming back after that first inning and it was nice to finally get Karmen into a game. She hit the first batter she faced and then walked the next, but she came right back with a strikeout and pitched very well,” said Echo-Hawk.

Game 4 began much like how the third left off. The Vikings began scoring a season-high 13 runs with a pair in the first inning and another pair in the second for an early 4-0 lead before Idaho State finally got on the board with a three-run fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, PSU took a 6-3 lead from Lynn’s two-run double to left-center field.

Idaho State’s efforts to rally brought two more runs in the sixth, but Portland State’s hitters blasted away with seven runs in the sixth to run-rule the Bengals, 13-5, in six innings.

Bertrand earned the win with five hits and six strikeouts over six innings, increasing her record to 7-8 on the season. She leads the conference with 115 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .223, while ranking second with 38 batters struck out looking.

Latham advanced her record to 10-7 and finished the weekend with 11 hits, 12 strikeouts and seven walks in 10 innings of work. Her 1.96 ERA is the second-best in the league, behind the University of San Diego’s Jenny Lahitte (1.74).

Holm leads the Vikings at the plate with a .378 batting average and 24 RBIs, placing her fifth in the league for both categories.

McEachran hit .667 over the weekend with six RBIs and four extra-base hits. Krogh, who racked up four hits in five appearances at the plate on Sunday, is hitting .350 on the season. Both Krogh and McEachran have a conference-leading four triples this season.

Portland State has now won the last 10 meetings with Idaho State and swept the conference series two years running.

The Vikings next travel north on Friday to take on Seattle University (9-25, 5-3 PCSC) in a pair of doubleheaders over two days. ?