Viks have 32 games to work out kinks after a slow start

What's the beauty of college softball? Portland State, which has started 8-17, has 32 games to get its act together, including the entire Pacific Coast Softball Conference schedule.

Just call it a bad start.

'We've been very inconsistent,' coach Teri Mariani says. 'We've had moments where we've played stunningly great, and more recently, the last two weeks, we cannot seem to get it back.

'We've made a lot of errors Ñ two a game Ñ and early on we were hitting the ball well enough to offset those. Now we're struggling, and we can't get a game where pitching, hitting and defense come together.'

The Vikings recently lost nine games in a row, including a two-game exhibition set against Team Canada. The streak ended against Seattle, but the Vikings went 1-3 in Southern California last weekend.

Portland State opens the PCSC schedule next weekend at Santa Clara. The six-team league features four West Coast Conference schools Ñ Loyola Marymount, San Diego, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara Ñ plus PSU and Sacramento State.

The Vikings also play Oregon State and Oregon four times each Ñ PSU plays the Ducks in a doubleheader at Erv Lind Stadium, starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday Ñ and Washington twice.

Annie Peccia, a senior third baseman from Round Rock, Texas, has been stellar, hitting .429 with 33 hits and 14 runs scored.

'When she comes to the plate and doesn't get a hit I'm shocked,' Mariani says.

Rose Rutledge (.357), Erin Stokey (six HRs) and Kayla Lewis (16 RBIs) also provide pop. Michelle Hext, a sophomore from Sunset, leads the pitching staff (6-7 record, 3.12 ERA).

A Duck revival

Second-year coach Kathy Arendsen has turned Oregon's program around. The Ducks (25-8) were ranked No. 17 in the country in the latest poll.

'She made the game fun again for them,' says Mariani, Arendsen's good friend. 'When we played them before, they weren't having fun.'

Arendsen, a former head coach at Mississippi State, has five hitters above .300, led by freshman outfielder Kayleen Hudson, from Northglenn, Colo., at .377. Jenn Poore (.374) leads with 37 hits; Ashley Richards (.357) has seven home runs, 22 RBI and 27 runs scored; and Breanne Sabol (.343) has 16 stolen bases. Another freshman, Kristi Leiter, is hitting .308.

Three pitchers share duties: Anissa Meashintubby (9-2, 1.57), Ani Nyhus (11-4, 1.80) and Amy Harris (4-3, 1.91). Nyhus struck out 16 in her no-hitter, the 14th in UO history, last week against Utah State.

The Ducks opened Pacific-10 Conference play by rallying for six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Oregon State 9-8, winning on Sabol's two-out, two-run single.

Hoffman buoys OSU

The Beavers (30-9), ranked No. 16 under coach Kirk Walker, rides the arm of senior Monica Hoffman, a Vancouver, Wash., resident who went to Central Catholic.

Hoffman has a 14-6 record, 0.81 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 130 innings. She is the only key senior playing.

Brianne McGowan has a 0.94 ERA, and Ta'Tyana McElroy is 10-1.

Four players are hitting above .300, led by sophomore catcher/first baseman Vanessa Iapala of San Diego at .371. She also has six home runs, 33 RBIs and 43 hits.

Kelly Peterson (.336) also has six homers and has scored 30 runs. Those two and Adrienne Alo (.325) and Mia Longfellow (.303) have started all 39 games.

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