OGDEN — Weber State softball left too many opportunities on the basepaths Friday and the Wildcats’ season is likely over.
WSU left eight runners on base but woke its bats up late — too late, in the seventh inning — and the regular-season co-champions fell 4-3 to Portland State for a two-and-done appearance in the 2018 Big Sky tournament on its home field.
Trailing 4-1 in the seventh, Courtney Pestka singled to lead off the frame — the Wildcats’ fifth time putting their leadoff hitter on base, but what would prove to be only the second time they’d cash in on the opportunity.
Sadie Blacker, pinch-hitting for Syd White, doubled and pushed Pestka to third. White came back on to run for Blacker.
Takesha Saltern struck out looking and Juliana Tricarico, pinch-hitting for Landi Hawker, popped out.
Down to their last out, the Wildcats finally tallied some runs. Ashlyn Visser grounded to short but Portland State’s first baseman dropped the throw, allowing Pestka to score and making it 4-2.
Molly Horne, down to her last strike, singled to score White and make it 4-3, putting the tying run in Visser on third base.
But Ali Belloc flew out and Portland State continues its tournament while WSU is done.
The loss was little fault of Weber starter Kirtlyn Bohling, who pitched a complete game and gave up only four hits and no earned runs. She pitched around having a runner on third in the fifth inning and retired the side in the seventh in four pitches. She also struck out three straight in the third.
But a mistake-filled second inning did the Wildcats in. It didn’t help that it came a half-inning after they left Saltern stranded on third with no outs.
Bohling sandwiched a walk between two White fielding errors at shortstop, loading the bases. After a strikeout, Bohling got up 0-2 on Marissa Bruno, but Bruno singled to left to give PSU a 2-0 lead.
Jessica Flanagan followed with a triple to left, extending the lead to 4-0.
In the third, Weber State loaded the bases with one out, but only pushed across one run on a groundout from Horne to make it 4-1.
Alyssa Burk pitched all seven for the Vikings, giving up nine hits and one earned run.
Weber State finishes 27-24. Barring an invitation to the Postseason NISC, the 2018 season will be over. On its side is the regular-season shared title, but against its case is the early conference tournament exit.
RAIN A FACTOR
Weber State’s game was slated for noon but didn’t start until just after 5 p.m. as rain fell off and on throughout Friday.
Only two of the day’s four scheduled games took place. North Dakota eliminated Montana 3-2 in a 2:30 p.m. game originally scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
SCHEDULE & MORE
Saturday’s forecast isn’t great, either, and rain will again play a factor in the completion of the tournament as it continues at Wildcat Softball Field.
Weber State officials say the conference must decide its NCAA tournament auto-bid by Sunday afternoon. As field conditions permit, the tournament will complete as many tournament games as possible. When time runs out, the best-seeded team with no losses is awarded the auto-bid.
Weather permitting, Saturday’s schedule is planned as follows:
9 a.m. — Winner’s bracket, (1) Sacramento State vs. (6) Northern Colorado
11:30 a.m. — One-loss bracket, (3) North Dakota vs. (4) Portland State
2 p.m. — One-loss bracket, Sac State/UNCo loser vs. UND/PSU winner
The championship game is currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sunday, with an if-necessary game at noon.