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PSU softball returns to UNLV tournament

The Portland State softball team heads to the UNLV Softball Classic this weekend where the Vikings went 1-3 at the Classic last season.

This season the Vikings are picked to finish fourth behind Hawaii, Fresno State and Loyola Marymount in the Western Athletic Conference. Portland State finished fourth last season as well.

But the Vikings will have a changed game plan. Instead of looking for the long ball, the team will look more to manufacture the runs. This comes at little choice with the graduation of Viking sluggers Kiauna Anderson and Marissa Smith.

“We are going back to the style of play that was successful for us before we joined the conference,” head coach Teri Mariani stated in a press release. “Unlike last season, this will be the type of team that manufactures runs and is not so dependent on the long ball.”

As well as the change in the style of play, Portland State has made some additions in personnel, giving the Vikings greater depth than before.

The Vikings had solid pitching last year and have added two more pitchers in the bullpen. Junior Nichole Ivie and southpaw transfer Megan Herscher should give Portland State additional options and build an even stronger pitching staff.

Catching for the talented pitchers will either be one of a pair of incoming freshman, Rose Rutledge and Kari Mills, or sophomore Laura Freels.

Back in the infield with her solid defense is second baseman Megumi Hackett. Hackett was named to the Preseason All-WAC team back in January. The co-captain had a great glove, committing only nine errors in 61 games last season. Hackett was 2-3 against Cal Poly last season.

The Vikings hope to even the score with the Cal Poly Mustangs. The Mustangs shut out the Vikings last season 11-0. Portland State only had three Vikings with hits last time they faced the ‘Stangs. Cal Poly batted .333 as a team compared to the Vikings’ .222 average.

Portland State leaves tomorrow morning for the UNLV tournament.

The Vikings will attend additional invites including Cal State Fullerton’s Worth Invitational and the Holiday Inn Invitational in Kansas. PSU will host its first double header against Fresno State March 21. All home games will be held at Erv Lind Stadium.