The Southern Utah University softball team is back on the road again, facing the Portland State University Vikings and looking for their first conference win of the year.
The Thunderbirds will head up to Hillsboro, Oregon where they look to finish strong against Portland State in their second Big Sky Conference road series of the season. The double-header on Friday, April 15, will start at 12:30 p.m. with the second game starting at 3 p.m. The final game of the series will be Saturday, April 16, at 12:30pm.
Southern Utah looks to break a 12–game losing streak and receive their first conference win of the year. The T-Birds most recent losses were against the University of Montana and Weber State University. Both series resulted in sweeps in favor of the opposition. SUU is currently 3-29 on the season and 0-9 in the Big Sky.
The Thunderbirds offense has been a rollercoaster so far this season, having spots of greatness and shutting down under pressure. Weber State completed the shutout in the last series, allowing no runs in favor of the Thunderbirds.
Senior outfielder Makall Whetten has been the best contact hitter so far for SUU. Whetten leads the T-Birds with a .257 batting average, an OPS of .806 and leads the team in runs with 13 and second with 18 hits on the season.
Following the trend of seniors leading the team, senior first baseman Reilly Williams has been the best power hitter for the Thunderbirds. Williams leads the team with 10 RBI’s and is tied for second in home runs with two.
Looking at the opponent
The Vikings of Portland State come in with a two–game win streak going into this week’s series. Last time out, the Vikings were successful in taking down the Bears of University of Northern Colorado, winning the series 2-1 overall.
The Vikings are 21-14 and 5-4 in the Big Sky. Portland State has two wins over their PAC-12 rivals University of California Berkeley and at the time beat No. 24 Oregon State University.
Portland State is led by redshirt sophomore pitcher Olivia Grey who leads the Big Sky Conference in strikeouts and is ranked No. 24 in the nation with 159 strikeouts on the season.
On the offensive side, Logan Riggenbach has the highest batting average at .360. She also has 36 hits and 25 RBI’s.
Paetynn Lopez is another power hitter on the Viking roster. Lopez is the home run leader with seven and is second on the team with 22 RBI’s and third with 28 hits.
The Vikings have the upper-hand on the rivalry, leading Southern Utah 18-15 all-time. Last time out, Portland State defeated the Thunderbirds 8-1 in the Big Sky Conference Championship game on May 15, 2021 in Ogden, Utah. The Thunderbirds look to get in the conference win column and avenge last year’s loss in the conference championship.
This is the first time this season both teams will face off. The first game of the double-header will take place at 12:30 p.m. and the second game at 3 p.m. on April 15. The final game of this series will take place Saturday, April 16, at 12:30 p.m. The first two games of the series will be held at Hillsboro Stadium and the final game at Gordon Faber Field D. The series will be streamed on ESPN+.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics