Courtesy: UO Sports Information
AUSTIN, Texas – With its 5-4 and 10-6 victories Saturday, the #11 seeded University of Oregon softball team (44-16) beat #6-seeded Texas (47-13) for its first Super Regional wins in school history Saturday.
The Ducks now look ahead to its second Women’s College World Series trip (and first since 1989), and also erased the frustration of 0-2 Super Regional sweeps at Missouri and Florida the past two years.
“We tried to get on top early to put pressure on them,” Oregon head coach Mike White said, “and it worked. My hat’s off to our pitcher Jess(ica) Moore. She really worked extremely hard. I know she’s going to be tired. It’s been a long two or three weeks for her since she’s pitched every game pretty much since Regionals.”
In the circle, the Duck junior Moore (32-13) staked complete games in both outings and has pitched every inning of the postseason except one. With her eight strikeouts combined Saturday, the Sutter, Calif., native now has 244 on the season, and bettered her previous school record for strikeouts from her freshman campaign (238).
“I knew I needed to be stronger than I was yesterday,” Moore said, “and the team picked me up huge today. It was awesome going out there and pitching with a lead all day.”
In the 10-6 finale, the Ducks racked up six runs in the second inning, then added four more runs in the fourth, while Texas scored three of its runs in the fourth inning, and three more in the seventh.
In the second inning, Oregon’s first run came after the first three batters reached via a hit by pitch of senior Christie Nieto, double by sophomore Alexa Peterson, and a RBI fielder’s choice by junior Jessica Moore.
Senior Lindsey Chambers added the next run on a sacrifice fly, and freshman Janie Takeda followed with a double that knocked in another runner on a fielding error by the center fielder.
Junior Samantha Pappas added an RBI single to right field for another run, advanced to second on the throw, stole third base, then scored on an RBI single by Kaylan Howard to third base. Senior Kelsey Chambers added the inning’s final run on a double to right center field.
In the fourth inning, Takeda opened with a single and scored on Pappas’ ninth homer of the season. Howard followed with her team-leading second triple of the year, and Kelsey Chambers singled her in. Senior Christie Nieto added a walk, and the two runners advanced on stolen bases to second and third base. Moore added the final run on a RBI single to right field.
At the plate for Oregon, four players had multiple hits – Pappas (2-for-4, 3 RBI, HR), Howard (2-for-4, 1 RBI), Kelsey Chambers (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Peterson (2-for-4) – while Moore (1-for-3) had a season-high 2 RBI.
Combining for 11 hits and 10 runs, the Ducks forced Horns to use three pitchers in the circle for the third time this season. Junior starter and All-Big 12 pick Blaire Luna struck out two, walked none, allowed three hits, and her five runs allowed were earned. Rachel Fox followed and pitched the next 1.1 innings, struck out one, walked none, gave up five hits, and all three of her runs allowed were earned.
Kim Bruins pitched the final 2.2 innings, struck out two, walked one, allowed three hits, and both of her runs allowed were earned.
The Longhorns scored three runs in the fourth, thanks to singles by Taylor Hoagland, Nadia Taylor, Bruins and Torie Schmidt, a walk by Mandy Ogle and final single by Gabby Smith.
Texas added three runs in the seventh on back-to-back homers by Hoagland and Bennett to center and left field, respectively, that were followed by a final roundtripper two batters later by Craig.
Two Texas players had multiple hits – Bennett (2-for-3, HR, 1 RBI) and Taylor (2-for-4).
Looking ahead, Oregon and the other seven Super Regional advancers look forward to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 31-Wednesday, June 6. Every game in the double-elimination format will be televised, as well as the best-of-three series between the final two teams.
Oregon’s first round opponent will be returning NCAA champion and #3 seed Arizona State – a team it split the season series with this year with a 3-0 win and 7-4 loss in Eugene in early April.