Errors end OSU’s postseason

Joshua Lucas Daily Barometer

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

The longest game in OSU softball history is also the Beavers’ final game of the year

The Oregon State softball team headed into Saturday’s NCAA Tournament elimination game versus Jacksonville State hoping to extend their season at least seven more innings.

The Beavers got seven extra innings, but not in the way they hoped.

Instead of beating JSU and staying alive for another game in the Auburn Regional, the Beavers and Gamecocks went 14 innings on Saturday, finally capped off by an unearned run in the bottom of the 14th frame to give JSU a 5-4 win.

OSU ends the season 30-20-1 with an early exit in the NCAA Tournament, though it was the first time the Beavers made the postseason in three years. OSU’s first game of the tournament was a 5-2 loss to South Carolina Upstate on Friday in the opening round of the double-elimination Regional bracket.

The 14-inning game on Saturday is officially the longest in OSU softball history. The game took 4:11 to complete and forced the following game — between USC Upstate and the still-fatigued JSU squad — to wait until 9:17 p.m. to start. JSU won that game, 3-2, to earn a chance to face Auburn in the final matchup of the Regional.

The Beavers committed a season-high five errors on Saturday and allowed six walks, eventually leading to four unearned runs. Freshman pitcher Meehra Nelson recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and didn’t allow a single earned run, but was still charged with the loss.

Senior pitcher Bev Miller started the game in the circle and went six innings, scattering nine hits but just one earned run.

OSU trailed 2-0 in the seventh and potential final inning, but the Beavers extended the game by tacking on the tying two runs off sophomore designated player Alysha Everett’s two-run single. OSU seemed to take a commanding 4-2 lead in the 13th inning when sophomore left fielder Lovie Lopez had a two-run single of her own, but the Gamecocks responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to force a 14th frame.

OSU committed two errors in the bottom of the 14th and JSU scored the winning run with no outs to end the game and the Beavers’ season.

“Our players fought their hearts out tonight,” said head coach Laura Berg after the game. “The walks and errors absolutely killed us. We can’t have five errors and give up six walks and expect to win the ballgame. I’m so proud of this team. Through all of the adversity they’ve faced this season, they played like champs. I’m proud of our seniors and am proud of them helping our young team get to the postseason. Now we’ve got postseason experience under our belts and we’ll carry that over to next year.”

The Beavers end the season with a .306 team batting average, officially the highest in school history. Every year Berg has been OSU’s head coach since 2013, OSU has set a new program record in batting average.

As for personal bests, junior first baseman Natalie Hampton tied OSU’s single-season record of 50 runs batted in when she notched two RBIs in Friday’s game against USC Upstate. The previous record was Hampton’s own mark from 2013, also the last year OSU made the NCAA Tournament.