Beavers head to NCAAs

Oregon State shortstop McKenna Arriola, center, and pitcher Taylor Cotton celebrate during a win over Stanford. The Beavers are headed back to the NCAA tournament and will play in Waco, Texas.

Anibal Ortiz, Mid-Valley Media

Natalie Hampton lifted her arms and stood up when she saw Oregon State pop across the screen Sunday night.

She then sat down and let out a big sigh of relief.

The rest of her teammates had similar responses.

Hampton, the Beavers’ all-time RBI leader and a redshirt senior, will get to play at least two more games.

Oregon State was one of the last teams announced during the NCAA softball selection show. The Beavers (28-25) will head to Waco, Texas, to take part in a regional with No. 15 overall seed Baylor (43-13), James Madison (50-6) and Kent State (32-26).

OSU faces James Madison at 2 p.m. Pacific on Friday with Baylor and Kent State squaring off at around 4:30 p.m.

“I am so proud of this team,” coach Laura Berg said.. “These ladies have been working hard since last fall and it is fun to see them get rewarded for that hard work.

"We have had some ups and downs this season, but we’ve grown as a team and will fight to make some noise this postseason. Each team in our regional is very good and there is a reason why they are playing in the tournament.”

It’s the second straight postseason appearance for the Beavers, who went 0-2 at the Auburn Regional last season.

The Beavers are one of eight Pac-12 teams to make the field. Arizona (2), Oregon (3), UCLA (5), Washington (6) and Utah (11) all received national seeds and will host double-elimination regionals this weekend.

The regional winners then advance to the best two of three super regionals with the eight winners advancing to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City on June 1-7.

Oregon State returned to the postseason for the first time since 2013 last season, but left with two losses, including falling to Jacksonville State, 5-4, in 14 innings.

The Beavers won two of three from UCLA and Utah at home to boost their resume, as well as a win at Washington to help them finish 9-15 in the conference.

Senior lefty Taylor Cotton has been solid in the circle, tossing a one-hit shutout and a two-hitter against Utah two weekends ago.

She has gone 14-9 with a 2.44 ERA and has 14 complete games and seven shutouts.

Offensively, the Beavers have five starters batting over .300 with right fielder Shelby Weeks leading the way at .362 and shortstop McKenna Arriola right on her heals at .356.

Both have 174 at-bats with Weeks collecting one hit more (63-62) than Arriola.

Alysha Everett, who is the DP and can play first, leads the Beavers with 45 RBIs and is batting .316.

James Madison went 50-6 and 18-2 in the CCA, and has won 19 straight entering the NCAA tournament.

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