PORTLAND -- The PSU Vikings softball team is headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the last five years.
They will play in the Washington Regional starting with the Huskies on Friday at 6 p.m.
“It’s kind of becoming a norm for us, but yet the excitement never goes away,” says Vikings Head Coach Tobin Echo-Hawk. “The kids are super pumped and are extremely excited about being in the Northwest and have their friends and family be able to come watch them.”
At 25 and 29, the Vikings don’t have a winning record, but they turned it on at the end of the season sweeping North Dakota on the road and then winning the Big Sky Tournament in Idaho.
“I think everything is just coming together,” says Brittany Hendrickson, who is batting .354 for the season. “It’s been a process and I think we’ve really stuck with that process and it’s paying off right now. We’re all really competitive. I like to win. I like the team aspect of it. It doesn’t take just one person. It’s a team game.”
“We jelled at the right time,” says Echo-Hawk. “And now the key is just making sure we continue to progress, get better and stay focused.”
Vikings senior pitcher Anna Bertrand is the ace on the mound with a 21-15 record and a 2.71 ERA. Washington’s ace is Portland’s Kaitlin Inglesby from Central Catholic High.
The Vikings played in the Eugene Regional last season winning one game and losing twice. The victory was just the second NCAA win in program history. Echo-Hawk was named Big Sky Coach of the week on Wednesday.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” says Tobin. “But you know I just have a great group of kids and I’m lucky to have the job I have and the group I have.”
That group is looking forward to the challenge in the Washington Regional, which also has two other strong teams: Hawaii and Minnesota.
“I feel like every year it’s gotten more and more exciting,” says Senior Carly Mceachran. “Last year it was almost like we were complacent with just being there. I mean, we built off previous years so we wanted to win a game last year. This year, we’re coming to play.”