Portland State’s softball team has reached 30 victories in a season for the third time in four years.
The other season, two years ago, the Vikings won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference championship and advanced to NCAA regional play.
In all that time, there has been one constant.
Well, almost constant.
There was that one game during her freshman season when Arielle Wiser was not the team’s starting shortstop.
The head coach at the time “really didn’t explain to me why, but she started a more experienced middle infielder to see how it worked,” the Battle Ground High School graduate said. “She just mixed up the defense for one game in preseason.”
Wiser was in the game after a few innings, on her way to 217 starts in 218 career games for the Vikings, who host Loyola Marymount on Friday and Saturday in the best-of-three PCSC championship series with an automatic bid to NCAA regional play at stake.
Two of the Vikings’ other three seniors have been with the program for four years, but only Wiser has played in every game during that time.
A shortstop and pitcher at Battle Ground, Wiser was more heavily recruited at shortstop and gathered that was where her collegiate career was headed. Former Portland State coach Amy Hayes was the first to pay attention to Wiser as a sophomore.
Wiser always wanted to play at the NCAA Division I level, and the close proximity of the school meant that friends and family could attend games. When the aid package came together, she said, “everything fell into place.”
A two-time first-team All-Class 4A Greater St. Helens League selection and All-State as a senior, Wiser did not just want to be on a roster.
She wanted to play — and with a little checking, she expected to play.
“I don’t really know anything else, so yeah,” she said. “I kind of did my research on the schools I was looking at, and I knew that (Portland State) needed a shortstop. I wanted that playing time.”
She got that playing time, and except for that one little blip, she’s been there ever since.
“I think with all my experience came the confidence,” Wiser said. “I’ve had awesome coaches and my dad (Dale Wiser, who coached his daughter) has always been really supportive, and I just believe in myself out there.”
While she likes making plays on defense more than batting, Wiser leads the team in runs scored, doubles and sacrifice bunts, and is second in hits and third in batting average and total bases. She also leads the team in at-bats and plate appearances, and is second in batting average in conference games.
“I’m a contact hitter,” said Wiser, who is typically second or third in the batting order. “I also bunt quite a bit, so I’m a sacrifice hitter, too. I put the ball in play a lot — just go up there and make things happen, I guess.”
Portland State has been making things happen lately, winning 19 of its last 20 games. The Vikings (32-16) began PCSC play coming out of a two-week break in the schedule and started 1-3. They are 15-1 since, capturing a second consecutive Mountain Division championship — after a 2009 PCSC title in coach Tobin Echo-Hawk’s first season before the split into divisions — to set up the conference championship series against Coastal Division champion LMU (32-25).
Games are scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday at PSU’s home field, Erv Lind Stadium at Normandale Park in Portland. If necessary, a third game would start 20-30 minutes after Game 2 concludes. A year ago, the Vikings were swept in the PCSC championship series by Saint Mary’s College.
Wiser said Coastal Division teams tend to be stronger than most Mountain Division teams because California is such a hotbed of the sport and many Mountain Division teams have only established programs relatively recently.
In her third consecutive season of postseason play, she hopes to provide some stability.
“I think it will help me,” she said. “I’m a captain on the team, and I think that having been there (will help with) keeping the girls calm and giving that feel to them that we don’t have to put any pressure on ourselves. I think that’s going to help. … I want to go to regionals. I hope we win. I feel like I’m in a good place now, hitting-wise and on defense, so I just want to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Doing what she’s doing in the classroom is going well, too.
Wiser is on schedule to graduate next month with a double major in physical activity and exercise, and school health. A three-time selection on the PCSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above (this year’s list has not yet been released), she has been accepted into PSU’s Graduate Teacher Education Program and plans to be certified to teach next spring. She hopes to teach high school physical education and coach softball.
Linfield teams get NCAA regional bids
Linfield College softball and women’s tennis teams will be competing in NCAA Division III regionals this weekend, with help from area athletes.
Evergreen High School graduate Staci Doucette plays first base for the softball team, which is 41-2 and will be one of eight teams playing in a double-elimination regional tournament today through Sunday or Monday at Pella, Iowa. The Wildcats face Anderson University of Indiana in their opener Thursday.
Skyview High School graduates Abby Olbrich and Sarah Click play singles and doubles together for the tennis team, one of six playing in a regional today through Saturday in Claremont, Calif. The Wildcats face Texas-Tyler today.
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