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Sports: Spring 2006
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: June 15, 2006

Softball team scores winning season

Change can be good or bad. For the 2006 softball team, there wasn't a whole lot of bad in a season of huge changes.

Good came as the team captured its first-ever winning season as a Division I program and its first Pacific Coast Softball Conference title. Change came with the retirement of head coach Teri Mariani after 29 seasons and the entrance of coach Amy Hayes, former assistant coach at University of Oregon.

Thanks to Mariani, who is now interim director of Athletics, Hayes inherited a team with seven returning letter winners and four position starters. While the Vikings stumbled to a 0-5 record at the start of the season, the team finished 38-20 and 15-5 in the conference to secure the league's NCAA Regional berth. As the No. 3 seed in the four-team NCAA Corvallis Regional, Portland State was eliminated with a 1-2 record. However, the Vikings showed they belonged with the nation's elite, dropping two tight contests to nationally ranked Baylor University.

"What a year, I am so proud of these young women," says Hayes. "Teri Mariani recruited a great crew of athletes, so we had a good foundation to work with. They all worked so hard. They realized that you can't just talk about what you want, you have to be disciplined, dedicated, and determined to get it. They did just that. A conference championship and an NCAA Regional win—what a first year."

With the success on the field, the Vikings were recognized with post-season honors. Hayes was named the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) Coach of the Year, while sophomore right-hander Mandy Hill was named the conference's Pitcher of the Year. Hill also hit 12 home runs, earning her second-team honors.

Viks add Ducks to Division I-A menu

The Portland State football program has added an unprecedented third NCAA Division I-A opponent to its football schedule for the 2006 season. The Vikings will face the Oregon Ducks on Oct. 28 in Eugene.

PSU, a member of the Big Sky Conference and a I-AA football participant, is already scheduled to open the season on Sept. 2 at University of New Mexico - Los Alamos, a member of the Mountain West Conference. The Vikings are also scheduled to play University of California - Berkeley, a Pac-10 school, on Sept. 16 in Berkeley.

Coach Tim Walsh is looking forward to the competitive challenge and the television exposure the nonconference games will generate. He also expects the games to gross nearly $1 million.

In the past, the Viking have not had much luck against the Ducks. They played University of Oregon in 1994 and 2002, losing 58-16 and 41-0. New Mexico and Cal will be brand new opponents.

The coaches of these higher-ranked teams better hope their players put on a good show. Coaches get fired when they lose to Division I-AA teams, says Walsh.

"In 2004, when we lost to Fresno State 27-17, and had the ball at the goal line at the end, Pat Hill came up to me and said, 'We are not playing you guys again.'"

The change in schedule will give Portland State just four home games and seven road games. The home schedule starts Sept. 9 with PSU battling Northern Colorado at PGE Park. The Bears begin their first season as a member of the Big Sky Conference.

All Portland State home games are scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Season ticket information is available by calling 503-725-5627 or visiting www.GoViks.com.

Be there for the games

Join Viking football fans in Berkeley Sept. 16 and in Eugene Oct. 28. The Alumni Association is planning events around the two nonconference games. Call 503-725-4948 for details.