The Portland State Vikings’ softball team opened the inaugural season of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference winning three of four against the University of San Diego.
The Vikings (11-15, 3-1 PCSC) next play Oregon (18-11) in Eugene on Wednesday.
Portland State has now played 22 of its 24 games away from Portland. Rainy spring weather forces the conference schedule-makers to make sure the Vikings get their games in, and over spring break the Vikings got in one doubleheader at home, but had last week’s games against Oregon cancelled due to bad weather.
The Vikings begin a string of games at home this week, where the team will face three of its next four opponents. The No. 4 Washington Huskies visit Erv Lind Stadium, the Vikings’ home field, on Thursday. The Vikings are scheduled to play a pair of doubleheaders this weekend against Sacramento State (25-15, 4-0 PCSC).
“We have a tough week ahead of us as far as our competition is concerned,” head coach Teri Mariani said. “Sacramento State was picked to come in first in the conference.”
The Vikings split Saturday’s doubleheader against USD, winning game one 2-0 and losing game two 4-3. Senior Megumi Hackett continued her blistering spring by knocking in freshman Maggie DeWall and junior Erin Stokey in the third inning of PSU’s 2-0 win. Hackett followed singles by DeWall, Stokey and junior Annie Peccia with a two-run single of her own, raising her average with runners in scoring position to .500 for the season. She is 7-for-14 when batting with runners on second or third base.
DeWall went 2-for-3 and Peccia went 2-for-4.
Senior pitcher Morgan Seibert’s string of dominating games continued against the Toreros (6-26, 1-3 PCSC). Seibert, Portland State’s career leader in appearances with 120, won her third game in a row Saturday. She struck out 10 Torero batters and pitched herself out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, when USD was trying to climb back into the game.
“She pitched very well,” said Mariani. “Her performance this weekend should be enough to garner player of the week honors in the conference.”
After the third inning, Seibert (6-6) allowed just one runner past first base, when Torero Jennifer Delpit doubled to left field in the sixth inning. Seibert followed Delpit’s hit by striking out the final two Torero batters in the sixth and the first two in the seventh to ice the win.
Seibert is now just seven wins away from becoming the all-time career wins leader in Portland State history. Marinai says there’s no doubt she can pitch well enough to get those victories if the Vikings can step up their defense and hitting.
“We haven’t been playing solid defense behind her,” said Mariani, “and we could do a better job at the plate.”
In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, the Toreros pulled out a 4-3 win in the bottom of the seventh inning when they sandwiched two singles around a sacrifice bunt to put the winning run on third base. The Vikings tried to increase their odds of turning a double play by intentionally walking the bases full, but freshman Michelle Hext was called for an illegal pitch, scoring USD designated hitter Desi Collo. Hext (3-6) pitched all seven innings and took the loss.
The Vikings swept the doubleheader Sunday with a pair of 4-3 wins. In the first game, the visiting Vikings scored two runs in the fourth with sophomore Kayla Lewis’s RBI single and sophomore Rose Rutledge’s RBI double.
The Toreros tied it up in the bottom of the same inning, and the teams were knotted at two through regulation. In the eighth inning, both teams put up a run, but the contest wasn’t over until DeWall singled in sophomore Whitney Olsen in the 10th inning.
Seibert was hot again Sunday, striking out 12 and allowing only six hits over 10 innings. Seibert’s fourth consecutive win followed her victory Saturday, an eight-inning two-hitter in her last game against Seattle University on March 29, and a win over the Nevada Wolfpack during Spring Break.
In the Sunday nightcap, the Vikings found themselves on top 4-0 after two innings. Lewis and Hackett both whacked RBI singles in the first, and Rutledge followed junior Ashley Tennant’s RBI single with a triple that scored Tennant and gave the Vikings a 4-0 cushion. However, the Toreros would climb back.
San Diego scored a run in the third inning and another in the sixth, and with two outs in the bottom of the seventh plated another run to make it 4-3. With the tying run on third, Vikings skipper Mariani decided to send in her bread-and-butter pitcher Seibert to close the game. Seibert promptly struck out the Toreros’ final batter, her 23rd strikeout of the weekend, to send the Vikings home winners of three of their first four games in the newly-formed Pacific Coast Softball Conference.
The Vikings’ next home game is scheduled for Thursday against No. 4 Washington, then at home again in a pair of doubleheaders against Sacramento State this weekend. The competition will be fierce against these two softball powerhouses, and the games can be seen at Erv Lind Stadium, a couple blocks south of Halsey on N.E. 57th Ave. The Washington doubleheader starts at 3 p.m. and both weekend series start at noon. Games are free to all students.