After seasons that were riveting in their own unique ways, both the baseball and softball teams saw their season come to an end on Sunday. The No.1-ranked softball team fell short of its championship goals, while baseball could not advance in the NCAA playoffs — owing in large part to losing two of its top pitchers early in the season and the lack of an Ace.
Oregon’s final hope for a third women’s national title — in addition to the Women’s NCAA Indoor Track title and Acrobatics and Tumbling – will appear on its home turf as track and field competes in the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. Also, the up-and-coming impressed at the NCAA finals and seem to be destined to compete for national titles in the coming years. Here’s how all the heartbreaks and heroics went down this past week:
Oregon lost perhaps its best shot at a national title this spring when the Oregon women’s College Softball World Series run ended on Sunday.
At the end of a 56-9-1 season, in which Oregon held the No. 1 overall ranking for almost two months, the Ducks’ bats were relatively quiet in the four WCWS games. They did not score a single run in each of their two losses while managing seven in the two victories.
Ace pitcher Cheridan Hawkins pitched in every game of the series, allowing just eight runs in 19.1 innings over span of four days. After pitching a complete-game shutout in the Ducks’ 3-0 victory over Florida State in Game 1, Hawkins surrendered four runs in just 3.1 innings in a 4-0, Game 2 loss to Florida.
Oregon’s final game of the tournament turned out to be an incredibly frustrating 2-0 loss to No. 2-ranked Alabama.
Courtney Ceo’s 2-for-2 day represented the Ducks’ only offense until both Kailee Cuico and Coral Costa each singled in the seventh. Ceo finishes the season with 104 total hits, which is tied for 14th-most in NCAA history.
The game looked like it was going to be tied when Janelle Lindvall drove a pitch down the left field line that cleared the outfield wall. However, the ball was just foul and Lindvall eventually struck out.
Oregon did not experience anything close to the domination it enjoyed in the first rounds of the playoffs. The Ducks’ most lopsided game was a the four-run loss to Florida. Comparatively, the Ducks’ (6-0 in the playoffs prior to the WCWS) closest game in the previous rounds was a 6-2 win against Minnesota in the super regional.
Oregon’s regional round in Nashville, which was a whirlwind in every sense of the word, ended in heartbreak Sunday night.
The Ducks burst out of the dugout with an 18-1 demolition of Clemson. Racking up 20 hits, Oregon also totaled four doubles, three triples, and two homers. Tommy Thorpe, the Ducks’ most reliable starter this season, tossed seven innings and gave up just one run and recorded five strikeouts.
Oregon followed up the impressive performance with a 7-2 loss to Vanderbilt, the host of the tournament.
An elimination game with Xavier Sunday morning was proved to be one of, if not the, most electrifying contests of the season. After jumping out to a 3-0 early lead, the Ducks surrendered five runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to fall behind 8-3. However, the five runs in the eighth and ninth innings, including a three-run dinger by Kyle Garlick, sent the game to extra innings. The Ducks completed the comeback with three runs in the tenth to win the game, 11-8.
Later in the day, the Ducks experienced the down side of late-inning heroics. After leading 2-1, Vanderbilt scored a run in each of the eight and ninth innings, to steal a 3-2 victory at home. Pitcher Jake Reed, who has been an extremely solid closer all season, gave up a bases-load single to Ro Coleman on a 3-1 count, which sent Vanderbilt to the super regionals and the home crowd into a frenzy.
The Ducks scored an astounding 29 runs in its two regional victories but managed just four in their two losses.
Track and Field:
The Ducks’ outlook on the track is much brighter. After performing extremely well in the NCAA West preliminary rounds this past weekend, Oregon qualified 39 athletes for the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field.
Freshmen hurdlers Devon Allen and Sasha Wallace were particularly impressive. Allen broke a school record with a time of 13.27 in the 110 hurdles, while Wallace did the same with 13.23 time in the 100 hurdles.
With both the men and the women ranked third in the nation, the Ducks will look to capture their first national title since 1985 when the women took home the trophy. Oregon won both team national indoor national championships and four individual titles in the fall.
The NCAA Championships will be held June 11-14.
The Ducks young group of golfers finished 14th in the NCAA finals last week in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Oregon finished the weather-shortened first round in first place at three under. After more than eight hours of delays, the round was suspended and resumed later in the weekend.
The Ducks slipped to 14th on Day 2 and 23rd on Day 3, before finishing at nine under on the final day of the tournament.
Look for this team to compete at an elite level in the coming years. Four out of the five golfers that played in the tournament are underclassmen, while the squad’s oldest golfer, Jonathan Woo, is a junior.
Top Photo: Gary Breedlove