It's down to softball.

Oregon has to win its three-game series with Oregon State this month for the Ducks to beat the Beavers in the annual Northwest Dodge Dealers Civil War Series.

Oregon was leading until last week, when OSU's men golfers finished one shot lower than UO and the OSU women finished 10 shots better than Oregon in the Duck Invitational. The links sweep put Oregon State in the 2006-07 lead, 8 points to 7.

Two points remain up for grabs. They will go to the winner of the UO-OSU softball series. The teams play in Eugene at 3 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and in Corvallis on April 25.

Oregon's softball team was picked to finish last in the Pac-10 by the coaches, but the Ducks are 36-4 and had won 15 in a row before losing Sunday to Stanford. Oregon State is 28-11. Both are 2-1 in the conference. Last week, the Ducks were ranked 13th in the nation. The Beavers were 19th.

Since the Northwest Dodge Dealers began sponsoring the series in 1999-2000, Oregon State and Oregon have won three times each, and one year (2000-01) ended in a tie. The Beavers won the last two years, both 12-5.

This year, the Beavers earned two points for their football win and two points for a pair of dual-meet wrestling victories. Oregon got two points for sweeping men's basketball and two more points for winning both volleyball matches. The schools got one point apiece when they split two games in women's basketball. Oregon received one point for its victory in women's soccer, and the schools went 1-1 in fall men's and women's golf.

The schools don't compete in every sport, and the head-to-head tally doesn't include some strong suits at OSU (baseball, gymnastics and swimming) and Oregon (track and field and cross country).

Taking the field

Portland State (15-19) opens defense of its Pacific Coast Softball Conference title with four games at Erv Lind Stadium against Sacramento State (doubleheaders at noon Friday and Saturday).

PSU right-hander Mandy Hill is 13-13 with a 2.40 ERA) and leads the Vikings with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. Freshman pitcher Janice Damo became eligible last week and went 0-1 in two starts; sophomore Jessi Even had been filling the No. 2 role on the mound. Freshman catcher Brandi Scoggins is batting .315.

Nice going

From Oregon State walk-on to big leaguer - infielder Brian Barden has made the Arizona Diamondbacks' roster after five seasons in the minors. He hit .397 this spring. … Jockey Joe Crispin, who broke the Portland Meadows single-season record for wins held by Gary Stevens, hit the 1,000 thoroughbred career victory mark two weeks ago and got a congratulatory call from legendary rider Laffit Pincay.

Start your engines

The action is fast and furious in Champ Car - and the first green flag hasn't even been dropped. Drivers are still being lined up as the series gets ready to begin Sunday with the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix in downtown Las Vegas.

The Grand Prix of Portland is June 10 at Portland International Raceway, No. 5 in the series' 17-race season.

In the fold for 2007 are eight of the top nine drivers in 2006, including three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais and 18-year-old Graham Rahal with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing; Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez, Forsythe; Justin Wilson (second last year), Rsports; Alex Tagliani, Rocketsports; Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia; Bruno Junqueira and Katherine Legge, Dale Coyne Racing; Neel Jani and Tristen Gommendy, PKV Racing; Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge, Pacific Coast Motorsports; and Dan Clarke and Robert Doombos, Minardi.

Games in progress

The Portland Pilots are 13-14 after going 1-2 in their West Coast Conference season-opening baseball series versus Santa Clara. Sophomore first baseman Chase Powell leads the club with a .342 batting average. Junior outfielder Cory Wiltshire is first in RBIs (14) and doubles (seven). Junior Given Kutz, a 6-4, 220-pound right-hander, is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA. The Pilots are at home against Gonzaga this week (3 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday). …

Portland State will introduce new Athletic Director Michael 'Torre' Chisholm at a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday. …

Joey Harrington and David Carr both are being considered by Carolina to be the backup for quarterback Jake Delhomme.

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