Vikings, softball fans enjoy exhibition game featuring National Pro Fastpitch Players

Softball – Oct. 26, 2011
Contact: Ryan Borde

• Postgame picture of both teams on homepage (photo credit to Scott Larson)

Vikings, softball fans enjoy exhibition game featuring pro team
Five former Olympians – two from the US and three from Canada – were on the NPF team

PORTLAND, Ore. – A crowd of 426 fans filled Erv Lind Stadium on Wednesday night, braving cold weather to watch the Portland State softball team take on a squad of professional players.

Team NPF, made up of players from the league's four teams – the Akron Racers, the Chicago Bandits, the NPF Diamonds and the USSSA Florida Pride – stopped in Portland on their 19-game, 17-stop Back to School Tour.

The all-stars pounded out 12 hits and two pitchers combined to hold the Vikings hitless in a 11-0 victory in the exhibition.

Despite the score, the Vikings and the fans in attendance enjoyed a game that featured some of the best players of the world. One of them, second-year pro Angeline Quiocho, even performed a dance to Beyonce's hit song "Single Ladies" in the fourth inning, drawing a standing ovation.

Former Arizona great Caitlin Lowe drove in five runs for Team NPF, and belted a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Caitlin Lever, who played for Canada in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, followed Lowe's drive with one of her own and ended the night with three hits. Also, Bianca Mejia finished the game 4-for-5, with a pair of RBIs and one double.

Beaverton product Ashley Charters hit 1-for-3 and scored twice for the all-star squad.

"It's always good to be back, to be able to play in front of your family and your friends and your old coaches. It's good to be back and show the Northwest what the NPF is all about," said Charters, who was the starting second baseman on the 2009 NCAA champion team at Washington.

Danielle Lawrie, who along with Charters plays for the USSSA Pride in Florida, said the 50 degree weather was a little too cold for her liking.

"It's a little too cold right now," joked Lawrie, who also played for Canada in the Olympics and was teammates with Charters on the '09 Washington team. "But it's good. The support has been great on the tour so far."

Lawrie worked the final three innings, striking out five.

Portland State softball coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said the night was beneficial for her squad and the local community.

"I knew the girls were really excited (to play the game). They definitely focused on the things that they could control. They went into the game with nothing to lose and just tried to enjoy the experience of playing against some of the best players," Echo-Hawk said.

"Portland has always been a pretty big softball town. To see as many fans come out, especially on a cold night, it's not only a great thing for the game of softball but also for our program. For the kids to have so many fans in the stands in pretty special."

The game against Team NPF wrapped up the fall schedule for Portland State. The Vikings will now head into winter workouts, before opening the 2012 season on Feb. 10 in Tempe, Ariz. The Vikings are coming off their second NCAA tournament appearance in three years under Echo-Hawk.

NOTES: Five former Olympians were on Team NPF. Lowe and Andrea Duran played for the United States in 2008, while Lawrie, Lever and Jenn Salling played for Canada that year ... Charters, Lawrie and Salling were all teammates on the 2009 Washington team and the trio now plays for the USSSA Pride in Kissimmee, Florida ... Charters went to high school at Southridge High School in Beaverton and was a two-time state player of the year ... first-year PSU pitching coach Megan Miller was reunited with former college teammate Sam Marder, who caught for Team NPF. Miller, a pitcher, and Marder, a catcher, played at Ohio State from 2007-10.

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