While Oregon State’s 6-0 Pac-12 softball loss to Utah may have been disappointing, the Beavers had to feel like the weekend was a success.
Oregon State won two of three from the No. 10 Utes (33-11, 13-6) and took a major step toward a potential postseason appearance.
With their two wins, the Beavers (27-23, 8-13) assured themselves of a winning record and took their second series against a top-10 team.
But there is still more work to do.
“Any time you can come away with a series win against any team in the Pac-12, it’s good,” coach Laura Berg said. “Like I told the kids at the end of the game it’s not the fact that we lost, it’s the fact of how we lost with a lack of energy, a lack of competing. That’s the issue that I have.”
The Beavers will head to California this Thursday through Saturday looking to solidify a second-straight berth to the NCAA tournament.
“I think we’re in a good spot right now. We did what we set out to do this weekend, we took the series which was huge for us,” said senior Natalie Hampton. “So we’re just going to try to take that momentum into Cal and take care of business there.”
Taylor Cotton, who limited the Utes to just three combined hits in 14 innings, got the start again on Sunday.
The Utes made sure Cotton wouldn’t flirt with a no-hitter — she took one into the seventh on Friday and the fifth on Saturday — right off the bat.
Delilah Pacheco singled to right and Alyssa Barerra grounded one to left to put runners at first and second with no outs.
After a sac bunt, Anissa Urtez grounded out to first and Bridget Castro flew out to right to end the threat.
Cotton wasn’t so lucky in the second. A two-out walk to BreOnna Castaneda and a no-doubt homer to center by No. 9 batter Kay Klay Franda put the Utes up 2-0.
Cotton lasted just two innings and allowed three hits and two runs while walking one with one strikeout.
“It’s their sixth, seventh, eighth time seeing her and you are going to have to make adjustments, “Berg said. “We just wanted to see how long we could ride her out.”
Utah increased the lead in the third thanks to a double by Hannah Flippen and run-scoring single by Urtez for a 3-0 advantage.
The Beavers threatened in the third as Kayleen Shafer singled and McKenna Arriola drew a two-out walk. But Shelby Weeks fouled out to left field.
Utah added it its lead in the fourth thanks to an error with two outs and a bases-loaded walk for a 5-0 edge.
Jessica Garcia reached on an infield and went to third on a stolen base and error on the throw but was stranded in the fifth.
In the sixth, Shelby Weeks beat out an infield single and Lovie Lopez walked to put the Beavers in position to mount a comeback.
But a doubleplay derailed the Beavers’ momentum and they failed to score.
Berg wasn’t pleased with the Beavers’ offensive performance throughout the game.
“I just think it’s the lack of competing at the plate,” Berg said.
The Utes tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Kelly Martinez.
Oregon State used a single by Garcia and walk to Arriola to threaten in the seventh but a nice defensive stop on a grounder by Weeks ended the game.
Garcia finished with two of OSU’s four hits while Fronda had three of the Utes’ 11 hits, including the second-inning homer. Urtez added two hits, including a double, and two RBIs.
The Beavers aren’t out of the woods for a postseason berth and feel they can control their own destiny.
“I think this team is doing everything it can to make that happen so we really have nothing to lose,” Hampton said. “So we’re just going to go down there with the mentality we had the first two games (this weekend) and against UCLA. We’ll see what happens.”