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When the Oregon State softball team dropped a 4-2 decision at home to BYU on March 31, coach Laura Berg had some choice words for her team in the postgame huddle.

Berg later shared that she was none too pleased with the effort she saw from her players.

After Oregon State dropped another close game to the Cougars the next day to fall to 16-15 overall, the Beavers have won five of eight, including three wins over top-10 teams at the time.

Two of those wins came against UCLA this past weekend at home, giving the Beavers their first-ever sweep of the Bruins.

Saturday’s 8-5 comeback win ended on Natalie Hampton’s mammoth home run in the bottom of the seventh to cap a four-run inning.

“It’s just so fun playing with all these guys,” Hampton said. “We were up all weekend. Last weekend we played pretty well at Washington and this weekend we just wanted to kind of build on it and the energy’s great.”

Oregon State had a chance at the sweep but left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings and fell 7-5 on Friday after being down 7-0.

“We’ve been doing that all weekend long, we’ve been fighting and battling back,” Berg said. "We did that (Friday), just a few clutch hits short of winning another ball game.

“These guys fought hard all weekend and it was a fun weekend.”

The Beavers were coming off a series where they lost two of three at UW, but the two losses were by a combined three runs.

So they entered the UCLA series with plenty of confidence.

“(We are) confident in ourselves and confident in each other,” Hampton said. “(UCLA) scored runs and we punched right back. I think we just have to believe it that we can do that. We can compete with anyone in the nation, we just proved that. There’s nowhere to go but up so we’re going to keep building on this, and we’re going to make a run.”

Oregon State (21-18 overall) has 14 games left on the schedule and needs to finish above .500 for a chance to reach the postseason for the second straight season and third time in five years under Berg.

The Beavers will try to get in a game against Portland State at 1 p.m. Tuesday, weather permitting, at the OSU Softball Complex.

OSU then will host Stanford this weekend for a three-game Pac-12 series. The first game is 3 p.m. Friday followed by a 1 p.m. start Saturday and a noon first pitch Sunday.

The Beavers are seventh in the Pac-12 standings at 4-8 and have series left against Stanford (0-12) and Utah (10-3) at home and at Oregon (10-4) and California (3-8).

Berg said the biggest difference she has seen since that first BYU loss is a change in mentality.

“They have really made up their mind to fight for postseason,” Berg said. “That’s what we’re doing, we’re fighting for postseason. We’ve put our backs against the wall and these guys, they know they’ve had some dumb losses early on and now they are realizing we can do this.”

Hampton said the Beavers need to continue to work at staying at the level they have been playing at the past two weekends.

“Hard work pays off,” she said. “Hard work in the cages, on the field, practice, weights, it pays off. It’s contagious, it’s addicting to want to do that again.

“We’re just going to keep rising, keep getting better every day and just see what happens the rest of the season. It’s going to be fun.”

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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