Softball preps for Auburn Regional

Joshua Lucas Daily Barometer
Softball team

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

The Oregon State softball team’s only two graduation seniors, second baseman Mikela Manewa and pitcher Bev Miller, were supposed to play the final home games of their career on Saturday.

But after two wins against Arizona State on Thursday and Friday, Saturday’s finale was rained out. There was no Senior Game for the Beavers’ only two players using their final year of eligibility.

Luckily for Manewa and Miller, the Beavers were selected the next day to play in the Auburn Regional in the NCAA Tournament, meaning their careers were not done yet. Still, they never got the Senior Game festivities they had expected.

“For Mikela and me specifically, we got cheated out of our Senior Game, so we were just like, ‘Well, at this point I’m just mad,’” Miller said. “So I think we’re going to carry that into the postseason. I didn’t get my last game on the field so I’m really, really going to go after it big time in the postseason. I’m going to fight for every minute I get on the field because I know it could be my last.”

OSU is headed to Auburn, Ala. to play in its first NCAA Tournament since 2013. The Beavers start the double elimination bracket on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time against No. 3 seed South Carolina Upstate. The Beavers are the No. 2 seed of the four-team Regional and will play either No. 1 seed Auburn or No. 4 seed Jacksonville State on Saturday.

Auburn is the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, meaning OSU has a tough road to potentially advance to the Super Regionals.

“Baby steps, so we’re going to go one game at a time,” said sophomore shortstop McKenna Arriola. “But we definitely want to go all all the way, obviously. That would be so cool, especially taking one from Auburn since they just won the SEC Tournament.”

“Auburn is obviously going to be very tough,” added head coach Laura Berg. “But that’s on paper. You’ve still got to play the game between the white lines.”

Just making the NCAA Tournament is huge for OSU, which went 26-26 last year and narrowly missed the 64-team field. This year, OSU finished the regular season 30-18-1 and with an RPI ranking of No. 24, leaving no doubt that the Beavers would end up somewhere in the bracket.

Could OSU have made a case for a better draw than having to play the No. 4 seed? Maybe, but the Beavers aren’t overly concerned about it.

“I think we fought for a little bit better of a draw, but I think it’ll be good,” Miller said.

Regardless, OSU has been busy preparing for the other three teams in the Regional, none of which the Beavers have faced this season.

“It’s been exciting and busy at the same time,” coach Berg said. “Us coaches are doing our thing to get the information we need on our opponents, watching video and all that good stuff. But it’s been really laid back. Nothing changes, the bases are still 60 feet away.”

Miller’s second time

Miller, a senior pitcher from Portland, is headed to her first NCAA Tournament but not her first postseason. She’s already experienced postseason softball when playing for Monterey Peninsula College in California. The Junior College postseason, Miller admits, is not exactly like the Division-I Tournament.

“It was a lot different,” Miller said. “It was still a good atmosphere and still fun, but we took vans to all the games. That was the only trip we stayed in a hotel in, so this is a completely different world and atmosphere. I’m really excited to experience it.”

The NCAA Tournament will be new for Miller, but she’s already familiar with USC Upstate softball. Miller’s sister, Anna, was a standout pitcher for the Spartans in 2013 and 2014.

When talking with Anna about the matchup with USC Upstate, Bev was surprised at her sister’s hesitancy about who to root for on Friday.

“My sister was like, ‘Gosh, I’m just so torn,’” Bev said. “I’m like, ‘Family first! Don’t you give me that crap.’”

Nelson Honored

Freshman pitcher Meehra Nelson earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors on Monday, her third weekly award of the season along with another Freshman of the Week award in February and her Pitcher of the Week honors in March.

Nelson broke OSU’s single-season record with her seventh save on Friday, one day after tossing a complete game shutout versus ASU in a 1-0 win.

Despite her record-setting week, Nelson didn’t see the award coming and didn’t even find out about it right away.

“People texted me ‘Congrats,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, for what?’” Nelson said. “It’s cool. I’m honored.”

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