CORVALLIS, Ore. – The No. 23 Oregon State softball team has won games this season with outstanding offense and solid pitching. While those things weren’t on full display Thursday afternoon against New Mexico in the 2013 home opener, the Beavers used one other key ingredient that has also been a large reason for their early-season success: perseverance. Oregon State (21-5) stuck with it in the second game of the doubleheader and came out with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the Lobos.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth, three of the first four Beaver hitters reached. With the bases loaded, Lea Cavestany singled up the middle to score Dani Gilmore and Elizabeth Santana. Cavestany and freshman first baseman Natalie Hampton moved to second and third, respectively, on a Lobo error on the play.
With two runners in scoring position, head coach Laura Berg pulled a shiny new weapon off the bench to pinch run. Senior Mollee Schwegler just completed her final season as an Oregon State women’s basketball player, and Berg threw the former all-state softball player right into the mix. Pinch running for Hampton at third, Schwegler soon scored on a wild pitch to tie the score at 4-4.
Junior pitcher Amanda Najdek retired the Lobos in order on three groundouts in the top of the seventh, her third inning of shutout ball after coming in relief of senior starter Tina Andreana. She didn’t have to wait long to get the decision and pick up her first win as a Beaver after transferring in from Wisconsin.
On the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, catcher Ally Kutz sent the faithful home happy when she lifted her fifth home run of the season over the fence in left center. It made the Beavers 5-0 this season in one-run games.
Hampton was 2-for-2 with two doubles into the same gap in left center. Her first inning double scored Santana to put the Beavers on the board. Santana also had two hits in game two. Najdek hasn’t allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings so far this season.
Hampton and Gilmore led the way for OSU in the first game. Hampton had two hits and drove in Gilmore with a first inning single to center. After New Mexico took a 2-1 lead, Gilmore crushed a pitch to right field her fourth homer of the season to leapfrog the Beavers back ahead, 3-2. She has now reached base in 12 consecutive games. New Mexico went on to win, 5-3.
The Beavers now pause for finals week and return with a spring break road trip to UC Davis, CSU Bakersfield and Arizona State, beginning March 24.