Softball goes 1-2 in Arizona

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Freshman catcher Kayleen Shafer’s eventual game-winning home run and some quality pitching in Saturday’s Oregon State softball game highlighted the Beavers’ road series against Arizona this weekend.

But, Arizona’s batters told their side of the story in Friday and Sunday’s matchup.

All told, it was another weekend of OSU softball against a ranked team and another one-win, two-loss effort.

The mixed results aren’t the worst thing for the Beavers: for OSU to face No. 18 Arizona in Tucson this week and take at least one win back to Corvallis is significant for postseason seeding and RPI rankings.

This is the third consecutive weekend that OSU has gone 1-2, earning the same result against No. 13 UCLA and then No. 10 Washington last week. After the 6-0 loss to Arizona on Friday, a 2-1 win on Saturday and a 10-1 defeat Sunday, the Beavers now stand at 28-18-1 on the season. The upcoming weekend’s three games against Arizona State are the only item on the schedule left before a nearly inevitable berth into the NCAA Tournament that starts May 20.

If OSU does earn a spot, it would be the Beavers’ first time making the postseason since 2013. OSU just barely missed out last year with a 26-26 record.

In the Arizona series, the Beavers’ bats never caught fire but a strong pitching effort in the middle of the three games pushed OSU to the 2-1 victory. Senior pitcher Bev Miller tossed 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven hitters and allowing just one run on four hits. Freshman pitcher Meehra Nelson entered for the final two batters of the game, striking out both and earning her sixth save of the season.

With that save, Nelson ties OSU’s school record for most saves in a single season along with Paige Hall in 2012, Monica Hoffman in 2004 and Tarrah Beyster in 1999.

The Beavers got on the board in the first inning when sophomore shortstop McKenna Arriola — whose two hits Saturday notched her 19th multiple-hit game this season — scored on a single by senior second baseman Mikela Manewa.

With the game tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, Shafer laced a pitch over the left field wall to give OSU a 2-1 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Arriola is now batting .381 on the year, while no teammate is above .356. As a team, OSU is batting .315; the program record was set last year at .298.

Sunday’s rubber match was dominated by Arizona left-handed pitcher Danielle O’Toole, who allowed one run in a complete game. The Wildcats scored in each of the first three innings, including six runs in the third frame, and the game ended after five innings via the eight-run mercy rule.

After Miller earned the win in Saturday’s contest, her four-inning, seven-run effort on Sunday gave her the loss. She now stands at 12-10 on the season heading into her final regular season games of her career. Nelson’s only decision came in Friday’s loss, when she struck out seven but allowed six earned runs to put her at 15-8 so far in her freshman campaign.

Miller and Manewa are the only players on the roster using their final year of eligibility this season, and the upcoming home series against ASU will be their final regular season contests at the OSU Softball Complex.

The series will be an opportunity for OSU to head into the postseason on a high note, especially since the Sun Devils are just 6-15 in Pac-12 games this year.

On Twitter @barosports

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