Women’s softball at Oregon is a non-stop highlight reel – no doubt about it. From hard-swinging home runs to high-flying acrobatics, the Ducks are compiling what is more than a noteworthy stat line as they are taking the league by storm.
The Ducks have mastered the art of hitting and the mental battle that occurs at the plate. Winning the game of softball is very simple – hit the ball, don’t strike out, get on base and score runs. The team has been firing on all cylinders at the dish this season. The squad just completed its three-game sweep of the Arizona State Sun Devils, and in impressive fashion.
— Oregon Duck Softball (@OregonSB) April 24, 2016
With a record of 35-6, much of the team’s success can be attributed to limited strikeouts per game. Throughout the series in Tempe, the Ducks as a team didn’t surpass four strikeouts in any game. This is a truly astounding statistic for many reasons. Strikeouts are a natural part of the game – they’re bound to happen, but limiting them can result from an improved sense of seeing the ball and practicing patience.
The women have managed to limit their strikeouts under the guidance of their head coach, Mike White. To this point they have struck out 138 times – the least amount in the Pac-12 - allowing the Ducks to compile an outstanding résumé.
Opposing teams that face the Ducks own a horrid strikeouts against stats. With more than double the Ducks’ total strikeouts, opposing teams have whiffed a grand total of 297 times. Missing opportunities at the plate strips away momentum from a team, as well as from the individual players.
Through 41 games of play, UO softball has accounted for 139 walks – one more than the strikeout total – and that ability to get a free pass to first base is a gift that should not be taken for granted. Walks happen because of a disciplined mentality at the plate coupled with a good grasp of the importance of the pitch count.
Patience is a vital component, as well. Understanding the strike zone while staying within a batter’s limits is an inner struggle each hitter faces, but the Ducks have managed to overcome these obstacles, regardless. Walks are also a substantial primary contributor to a hitter’s on-base percentage.
Presently the Ducks have an insane on-base percentage of .443. I wish I could say the same about my fantasy baseball team. As a primary way to score runs, this has been leading to the mass production of runs scored. Dating back to April 1 (their last loss), the ladies have plated more than five runs in seven of their last eight games.
The team is making the most of its opportunities and trying its best to not leave runners stranded on the bases. Running up the score is easy with two hitters at the top of the lineup getting on base more than half the time.
After hitting fifth in the lineup last year, Koral Costa has been moved up to lead off. This decision has paid off immensely. Costa was dominant in her role last year, but through 41 games, she has a higher OBP than she had at the end of her 2015 campaign. Although her current OBP of .518 is drawn from a smaller sample size than her OBP of .467 from 2015, it is promising to note she could end the season with a much-improved stat line. More importantly she is benefitting the team.
— Oregon Duck Softball (@OregonSB) April 24, 2016
The other outstanding batter at the front of the line up is No. 2 hitter Nikki Udria. Similar to Costa, Udria was placed further down in the lineup last season, specifically, the clean-up spot. Udria ended last year with a stellar .460 OBP. She’s cranked those numbers up this year with an even .500 OBP. With Udria and Costa at the top, it’s easy to see why the Ducks are having so much success scoring runs. The two hitters combined have accounted for 85 runs along with 85 RBIs.
White has done an exceptional job getting his team to limit strikeouts, take walks and get on base by any means possible. The coaching decision to move Udria and Costa to the top of the order has certainly paid off all season long and has significantly impacted the outcome of Oregon’s games.
The Ducks are an offensive powerhouse, which solidifies their ranking at No. 5 in the nation. Look forward to seeing a lot of runs, a lot of hits and probably a lot more wins as the season continues.
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove
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