It’s always awkward running into an ex-girlfriend after breaking up. I’d imagine the same goes for players and coaches.
And for the Oregon Ducks (37-15, 14-10 Pac-12) softball team, the NCAA Regional tournament in Austin, Texas, offers the top-ranked squad an opportunity to square off against former Ducks: Texas Longhorns head coach Mike White and players Shannon Rhodes, Mary Iakopo and Lauren Burke.
Before I get any further: I didn’t forget about the major snub this morning from the NCAA after the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll had No. 10 Oregon RANKED AHEAD of No. 11 Texas. This is nothing short of an ABOMINATION. By all rights, the Longhorns should be playing at Jane Sanders Stadium this weekend. Here’s another fun fact: If thunderstorms prevent teams from competing in Austin, only the highest-ranked team — Texas — advances in the tournament.
Can Oregon really defeat White and the Texas Longhorns (39-11) on the road? Don’t get me wrong, the Ducks are in a new and exciting era — the Lombardi era — and the program hasn’t looked back since completely embracing the former Oklahoma coach’s brand of softball. But it will be a nerve-racking and emotional matchup, nonetheless.
First, No. 2-seed Oregon plays Texas State (38-12) at 4:30 p.m. on Friday (ESPN3). If both Texas and the Ducks win their first-round games, they could play each other on Saturday.
Get primed for the Ducks’ Regional appearance this weekend with an inside look at their head coach.
— Mighty Oregon Podcast (@MightyOregonPod) May 18, 2021
And that matchup appears likely. The Ducks have not lost a game in a regional playoff round since 2008 — a streak of 27 straight games covering the last nine tournament appearances, according to UO Athletics. But White, a three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, will definitely need to bring the lumber to smite the Ducks’ hopes of tarnishing his Longhorn legacy.
Is this Oregon’s chance to truly confront its past, cast off White’s long shadow over the program and make a name for its program under Lombardi? What do you think? If so, will the Ducks rise to meet this daunting challenge?
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove
Jordan is a lifelong Duck fan currently living in San Diego. Jordan graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, after serving a prestigious fellowship with the Washington State House of Representatives. Upon graduation, he worked as an English language teaching assistant for the Spanish Ministry of Education’s Ambassadorial Program in Monforte de Lemos, Spain. Jordan has worked as a journalist, writer, and editor in Oregon, Washington, Montana, and California, covering a wide range of topics, including sports, local politics, and crime. He is VERY excited to be writing about his beloved Oregon Ducks.
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