Portland State at North Dakota
Friday, May 3, 2 p.m. (doubleheader)
Saturday, May 4, 12 p.m.
Apollo Softball Complex
Live Stats/Audio: UNDSports.com
The University of North Dakota softball team will open and close its home season this weekend hosting Big Sky Conference foe Portland State at the Apollo Softball Complex. Come support the team on both Friday and Saturday as it will be also be honoring Special Olympics on Friday and celebrating its seniors on Saturday.
Many of the UND softball players spend numerous community service hours helping out with Special Olympics and on Friday they are celebrating the accomplishments of their fellow athletes. Multiple Special Olympics athletes will be in attendance to cheer on the UND players. The team will be taking donations throughout the games and will have Jade Duchscherer throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the second game.
The softball team earned UND’s Team Female Community Service Award Wednesday night at UND Athletics Department Spring Awards Program. Led by senior Kenna Olsen, who was a finalist for the Individual Female Community Service Award, her team worked 33 community service events, equating to just under 1,000 hours, or 47 hours per student-athlete. The softball team volunteered time to Special Olympics, the Salvation Army, Relay for Life, Red River Valley Community Action and more.
SENIOR DAY AND A SPECIAL GUEST
North Dakota will be giving a special recognition before the game on Saturday for its six seniors that will be playing in its final home game at Apollo Field. The six seniors are Brittany Baker (Buena Park, Calif.), Cami Bennett (Grants Pass, Ore.), Michelle Frank (Chaska, Minn.), Emma Gronseth (Forrest Grove, Ore.), Kenna Olsen (Issaquah, Wash.) and Abby Jo Tometich (Aberdeen, Wash.).
Throwing out the game’s ceremonial first pitch will be the Grand Forks Herald’s Marilyn Hagerty whose career in newspapering began in the 1940s when was a high school student. By the 1970s, Hagerty had a regular column and retired from full-time newspapering in 1991. Hagerty still writes five columns a week for the paper.
Due to the unusual spring storms in the Midwest region throughout April, North Dakota was forced to cancel its first 10 scheduled games at home, including its first two Big Sky Conference series against Southern Utah and Sacramento State.
UND will welcome Portland State to Apollo Field this weekend in its final regular-season games of the season. North Dakota has played 37 games (10-27) so far this season, all of them coming away from home.
Fans can follow all three games this weekend online via live stats and/or a live audio feed provided through UNDSports.com. Play-by-play will be called by broadcaster Paul Ralston.
AROUND THE BIG SKY
Idaho State (12-3), Portland State (11-4) and Southern Utah (9-6) have all clinched a spot in the inaugural 2013 Big Sky Conference Softball Tournament. The fourth spot is still up in the air as Sacramento State is currently fourth at 6-6, Northern Colorado is fifth at 5-10 and UND is sixth at 2-7.
In order to advance to the BSC Tournament, UND would have to surpass both Sacramento State and Northern Colorado in winning percentage to claim the fourth and final spot. Northern Colorado hosts Weber State (8-35, 3-12 BSC) while Sacramento State hosts Idaho State (26-19, 12-3 BSC).
The Big Sky Conference Tournament is hosted by the regular-season champion and three teams are still fighting to decide that claim in Idaho State, Portland State and Southern Utah.
SCOUTING THE VIKINGS
Portland State enters the weekend with a 19-29 overall record. The Vikings are currently one game back of Idaho State in the Big Sky standings and bidding for an inaugural BSC championship this weekend.
Senior Sadie Lopez is leading the Vikings with a .389 batting average in conference play. She has scored seven times, has a team-best seven doubles, two home runs and has driven in 12. She leads the team in conference slugging percentage with a .750 mark. Eight of her 12 RBIs have come with two outs.
Junior Becca Bliss is riding a seven-game hitting streak into the final weekend of the regular season. She is hitting .400 (10-for-25) with nine runs scored, three doubles and two home runs over the streak.
Senior Anna Bertrand became PSU’s all-time winningest pitcher with a win in its first game against Idaho State on April 20. She picked up her 68th career win to move into first place in the Vikings’ all-time career win list. She also surpassed the school’s record for all-time career strikeouts against Oregon State (April 30) and has now collected 778 for her career.
ALL-TIME VS. THE VIKS
Portland State lead the all-time series against UND 2-0. Both losses came in the 2011 season while the two teams had a doubleheader canceled last year in Portland due to inclement weather.
Junior D Jantzer (Grants Pass, Ore.) combined for a .237 batting average in her first two seasons at North Dakota and has increased that considerably during her junior campaign as she leads the team connecting at a .306 rate. She has also came up clutch as she has a career high and team-leading 19 RBI.
IN THE CIRCLE
Seniors Michelle Frank, Emma Gronseth and Abby Jo Tometich have combined for 27 of UND’s 37 starts this season in the circle. Frank leads the team in innings pitched (72.2), strikeouts (47) and saves (two). Gronseth leads the team in earned run average (3.43) while tossing 46 strikeouts and collecting one save.
Junior Caralyn Chewning (Willamina, Ore.) continues to help UND in multiple aspects of the game as she is second on the team with a .293 batting average and is solid defensively with a .968 fielding percentage, but has also been one of UND’s key pitchers with a 4.96 earned run average and is in a three-way tie with Gronseth and Frank in wins (three). The junior also now ranks sixth in program history with 46 career walks and third in doubles with 31.
Emma Gronseth and Michelle Frank now sit third and fourth all-time in program history in strikeouts with 357and 352, respectively. Tara Peterson (2003-06) is the all-time leader with 932 while Mikka Cochrane (1993-95) is second with 494.
Cami Bennett collected her 100th career run last weekend against Idaho State which ranks fourth all-time in program history. She also has 162 career hits which ranks fifth all-time.
Brittany Baker has belted four home runs this season for 23 in her four-year career at UND which is third all-time in program history. She trails Nicole Puerling (2006-09) by two for second in the record book.