The No. 2 Oregon Ducks softball team could only play gracious hosts to visiting No. 19 Arizona State for roughly five innings this afternoon before Oregon’s junior catcher Janelle “Bam-Bam” Lindvall belted a grand slam, helping the Ducks’ reach a 7-0 win against ASU.
The Ducks improve to 33-5 overall (11-2 Pac-12) after the first of a three game series against ASU in Eugene. The Sun Devils fall to 27-13 (5-4 Pac-12).
Oregon’s junior ace Cheridan Hawkins got the win (17-3) after finishing with six strikeouts and giving up only two hits in seven innings. Hawkins put to rest the first ten batters, giving the Ducks’ offense ample time to heat up.
Oregon struck first blood in the bottom of the second inning against ASU freshman pitcher Breanna Macha (12-7), scoring on a single to left field following a textbook sacrifice bunt setup, giving the Ducks an early 1-0 lead.
But in the bottom of the fifth, the Oregon powder keg exploded. Lindvall went yard with bases loaded, giving the Ducks a 5-0 lead. In the next at bat, junior Koral Costa connected with a solo home run, pushing the Ducks’ lead to a 6-0.
“I don’t think I have the best swinging mechanics. But we work on hitting a lot of pitches in practice and it worked out, I guess,” Lindvall said.
While Oregon head coach Mike White was excited about Lindvall’s firework display, the two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year was even more pleased with his player’s ability to create scoring opportunities.
“Obviously that grand slam was big because that gave us the cushion. But we’re getting people on base. We had seven walks that game and nine hits. That’s a lot of runners on and so that gives us a lot of opportunities,” White said.
Recap: Cheridan Hawkins pitches Oregon softball past Arizona State http://t.co/b71b7MdwKN
— Duck Sports Now (@DuckSportsNow) April 10, 2015
And having a pitcher like Hawkins provides a huge lift if the offense struggles to get started quickly. “What I loved about Cheridan today was that she was getting ahead and throwing strikes,” Lindvall said.
“When we get behind, that’s when she gets in trouble. I love to see Cheridan throwing like that. Aggressively.”
Hawkins submitted another knockout performance, lowering her season ERA to 0.93. But Hawkins is fueled by Oregon’s success at the plate, a strength she believes all of her teammates possess.
— Oregon Duck Softball (@OregonSB) April 10, 2015
“I love our hitting and I fully believe in it,” Hawkins said. ”I never lost faith that our hitters couldn’t get it done. I never have felt like that once this year.”
But the nationally ranked Sun Devils will continue to bring their best shot in the next two games, something White fully expects.
“Offensively they can explode and we know that,” White said. “We just need to make sure that we keep the crooked numbers off the board and then give our offense an opportunity to keep us in the game or win the game for us.”
Oregon will face ASU tomorrow for game two at 5:30 pm at Howe Field in the second game of the Ducks’ three-game series.
Top photo by Dave Peaks