Ending with momentum

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

OSU has secured a winning season already, but trending upwards as the postseason approaches is key

It would be easy for the Oregon State softball team to coast to the end of the regular season, especially with a winning season already secured.

Even if the Beavers lost their final nine games of the year, they would end 26-23-1, likely good enough for an NCAA Tournament berth since only three Pac-12 teams have ever missed the postseason while having a winning record.

But, head coach Laura Berg isn’t concerned with whether or not her team already has locked up a postseason spot. She wants to come out strong this weekend against No. 10 Washington, next weekend at No. 17 Arizona and finally against No. 25 Arizona State to “end on a positive note.”

“We want to give the committee a reason to pick us,” Berg said. “We finish strong, we take a couple wins from some top-ranked teams, our RPI stays strong so they have to put us in the postseason. That’s the biggest thing for us right now, we’re fighting for the postseason.”

If OSU does make the NCAA Tournament, it would be the first time since Berg’s first year as head coach in 2013. The Beavers were one of the closest teams to making the field last year, but narrowly missed out with a 26-26 record.

The Washington Huskies (28-9, 9-6) are the highest ranked team OSU has yet to play, and they’ll travel into Corvallis this weekend for a three-game series that starts Friday at 1 p.m. Washington has won every Pac-12 series this season except for the sweep by No. 5 Oregon to open the conference schedule.

“Right now, I feel like we’re just in a situation where we need to get the wins,” said freshman outfielder Shelby Weeks. “What we’ve been practicing this whole time is for the postseason. We need to get our plays down, we need to get our at bats in and just do what we’ve been talking about since the beginning of the season.”

 

Batting Like Crazy

 

Every year that Berg has been the head coach, OSU has set a new program record in batting average. The Beavers are on pace to do so again for the fourth consecutive year, and this season might be the biggest jump yet.

With nine games left, OSU is batting .327 as a team, far higher than the .298 average last season. The jump to last year’s .298 mark previously was the biggest increase of Berg’s tenure, improving from .287 the year prior and .280 in 2013, her first season.

The Beavers are also threatening other records, currently on pace to break or nearly break multiple other categories by the end of the regular season — not even counting postseason games. These categories include runs batted in (on pace for 272 in the regular season, record is 269), runs scored (on pace for 299, record is 301) and doubles (on pace for 84, record is 88).

So what has made the difference?

“The mentality of them not wanting to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 like we have the last couple of years,” Berg said. “I know we’ve broken records, but they still have finished in the bottom when it comes to putting the numbers against everyone else.”

Berg is right: even last year’s record-setting .298 team batting average ranked just seventh overall in the Pac-12. This year, OSU’s .327 mark ranks third in the conference.

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