Beavers set to square off vs Ducks

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

Laura Berg knows a thing or two about what it takes to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

The Oregon State head softball coach won the 1998 National Championship her senior year at Fresno State, and now she sees what the Beavers need to do this season for their first postseason spot since 2013.

“Win ball games that we’re not supposed to win,” Berg said. “That includes against the Ducks.”

OSU will seek a postseason resume-boosting upset of No. 7 Oregon this weekend in a three-game series in Corvallis, starting at 3 p.m. on Friday in the OSU Softball Complex.

“We’ve been looking forward to this series,” said senior second baseman Mikela Manewa. “Obviously we’ve been taking it series by series but I think this is going to be the most exciting one, especially because we’re playing at home this year. It’s going to be a different atmosphere. I think it’s going to be crazy.”

OSU hasn’t beaten the Ducks since 2012, when Berg was an assistant coach. Since she took the head coaching job the next season, OSU has gone winless against Oregon in nine games, being outscored 101-20. Still, OSU has already won 24 games this year compared to 26 wins last season, and there are still 16 regular season games remaining. OSU has also defeated No. 18 Kentucky and No. 11 Oklahoma earlier this year.

“I don’t think (Oregon’s ranking) bothers us,” Manewa said. “In the Pac-12, anything can happen. Anything goes.”

“There’s a little more at stake with it being the Civil War, but the bases are still 60 feet away,” Berg added. “The ball is still 12 inches around. You don’t do anything different.”

Oregon leads the NCAA with a .373 batting average, though OSU is on pace to set a program record at .338 so far this season.

Hampton’s Record

Redshirt junior first baseman Natalie Hampton has 45 runs batted in on the season, just five shy of the OSU single-season record that she set her freshman year in 2013. Coming into the Oregon series as a freshman she had 46 RBIs before launching a home run in her first ever Civil War game. She added a grand slam in last year’s Civil War series.

“I try not to think about (the record),” she said. “Obviously in my career here I want to get my money’s worth and make as much of an impact as I can. But I’ve learned over the past couple series that the more I think about it, the less good I do. I need to keep that separate. If I get there, great. If I don’t, that’s great, too, I just want to be able to help my team. Fortunately, getting RBIs helps my team.”

Uniform Beef

The Ducks may be known in part for their flashy uniforms, but Beaver players are not particularly impressed.

“Oh wait, people talk about their uniforms?” Manewa said. “That’s weird, because I think their uniforms are ugly. Not even because they’re the Ducks, but really I just don’t like their colors at all. They’re ridiculous. I really like our uniforms. A lot of my friends, parents and family love our uniforms.”

Hampton considers herself “more old schooled,” but added she also prefers the Beaver jerseys.

“Orange and black are my favorite colors, so I obviously think ours look better,” Hampton said. “You can have 20 million combinations, you still have to hit the ball and turn left.”

“I could be wearing a trash bag out here and it wouldn’t matter to me.”

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