Ducks collect first sweep of Stanford since '95

Ducks collect first sweep of Stanford since '95

EUGENE - Polishing off a Pac-12 opening three-game sweep, the No. 10 University of Oregon softball team (26-4, 3-0) enjoyed a 10-3 win over No. 15 Stanford (22-8, 0-3) Monday afternoon at Howe Field.

After relying on late comebacks for its previous pair of one-run wins, the Duck offense ignited for its ninth double-digit run tally of the season. Taking its third straight season series from the returning NCAA Regional finalists, UO also savored its first series sweep since 1995.

"Winning at home is really important, especially bouncing back from being down in each game," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "We used our previous experience against (Stanford's) Stevens, made some adjustments, and hit the ball hard. Our short game and speed also really got the offense going. We were patient at the plate early, and we cashed in on an error to put the pressure on them from the start."

In the Ducks' four-run first inning, junior Courtney Ceo accounted for the team's first run after she walked, stole second base, and scored on a throwing error by the shortstop on a grounder.

Freshman catcher Janelle Lindvall followed with her second straight game-winning RBI (and of the season), thanks to a two-run single to right field.

The inning's last run came on a throwing error by the catcher on a delayed double steal of home.

Oregon added three runs in the fourth inning on junior first baseman Kailee Cuico's team-leading eighth homer of the season - a three-run shot to left field.

Her 27th career four-bagger also moved her into a tie for ninth overall in the school record books with former teammate Monique Fuiava.

In the fifth inning, freshman left fielder Danica Mercado scored on a delayed double steal of home after she singled, and advanced to third base on a single by sophomore center fielder Janie Takeda.

UO's final runs came on a two-run single by freshman third baseman Koral Costa in the sixth inning.

Overall at the plate, Oregon had two players with multiple hits - Takeda (2-for-5) and senior right fielder Samantha Pappas (2-for-3).

Part of a team-season high five stolen bases, Takeda swiped two, and Ceo, Lindvall and Mercado added single thefts.

Monday's stats also improved Takeda's conference-leading season marks in stolen bases (16), hits (47) and batting average (.480).

Starting in the circle for the Ducks, Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and freshman Cheridan Hawkins (11-1) won her third game of the weekend.

In her five innings Monday, the Anderson, Calif., native struck out four, walked none, yielded four hits, and all three of her runs allowed were earned.

Stanford's first runs of the series off Hawkins came off on a first-inning, two-run homer by Leah White, and fifth-inning, solo round-tripper by Kayla Bonstrom.

"Cheridan pitched well," White said, "and they earned the runs they scored. When you throw the rise ball you can live and die by it, and homers aren't that uncommon. She hung in there, and was one of four freshmen that started and played parts in the win today. Their presence certainly makes us stronger this year and for the future."

Duck senior Jessica Moore pitched the final two innings, struck out four, walked none, and allowed no hits.

 

Cardinal starter Kelsey Stevens (9-4) retired only the first two outs, and allowed four runs on two hits, struck out one, and walked one.

Sophomore Nyree White pitched the last 5.1 innings, struck out two, walked four, allowed eight hits, and one of her six runs allowed were earned.

At the plate for the Cardinal, four batters hit safely once.

Earlier Monday, Hawkins picked up her second Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honor this season for her eight scoreless innings from Saturday's and Sunday's 4-3 and 3-2 victories.

In those games, she retired 14 of her 18 combined outs via strikeouts and allowed only two infield hits and no walks or runs.

She also bettered her season strikeout-per-seven-innings average (10.80) that ranked sixth nationally last week with a 16.33 weekend average.

Team-wise, the Ducks' 3-0 opening weekend of conference action left them tied for first in the 'Conference of Champions' with fellow WCWS returnee and No. 5 California (26-3, 3-0).

Looking ahead, Oregon next heads to returning Super Regional advancer and No. 17 Washington this Thursday-Saturday, March 28-30.

Duck fans can watch Friday's 4 p.m. second game live on the Pac-12 TV Network.