Jessica Moore spins perfect game as Ducks sweep Arizona

Jessica Moore spins perfect game as Ducks sweep Arizona

EUGENE -The No. 6 University of Oregon softball team (36-6, 13-2) capped a historic weekend against eight-time national champion and No. 17 Arizona (27-17, 4-8) with a five-inning, 9-0 victory Sunday at Howe Field.

In front of a Pac-12 Network TV audience, senior Jessica Moore (19-3) pitched a perfect game to cap the Ducks' first-ever sweep of the Wildcats.

"That's the best I've seen Jess pitch," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "She was in control of every one of her pitches against a very good hitting team, and she deserved it. At the plate, we're seeing the ball well, and our short game set our hitters up well, too."

Retiring all 15 batters in order, she posted the third no-hitter of her career after a seven-inning effort vs. Weber State in 2011 and combined five-inning perfect game with former teammate Samantha Skillingstad vs. Idaho State in 2010.

"I knew I had a chance going into the last inning so I tried to bear down and do my best," Moore said. "Coach White and I re-watched my game Friday night and that really helped prepare us today, as well as watching Cheridan yesterday and seeing what pitches they struggled on."

The returning All-American struck out six Sunday to up her school career record to 835, and also hiked her Duck all-time bests for wins (92), appearances (162) and innings (831.2).

The USA Softball Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist improved her marks in other career categories for shutouts (fifth, 17) and complete games (sixth, 71), and climbed its all-time list for wins in a season (11th, 19).

At the plate, junior catcher Alexa Peterson (2-for-2, 4 RBI) drilled a pair of homers with her second-inning solo shot and three-run blast in the third.

"Alexa is seeing the ball really well," White said, "and established herself defensively early with a nice play on a bunt. She and Janelle (Lindvall) are really pushing each other and are calling great games."

The Salem, Ore., native tied her career high for RBI, and her 10th homer of the season raised her career tally to 20.

"I didn't know Jess was throwing a perfect game until the end," Peterson said, "and for me it was better that way, or I would have been really nervous. I had never caught one before, so I almost jumped in her arms. She was on fire, and hitting all her spots everywhere in the strike zone."

Junior first baseman Kailee Cuico also cleared the fences with her team-best 14th homer of the season. The two-run, first-inning shot move her up all-time Oregon lists for round-trippers in a season (fourth) and career (seventh, 33).

Senior second baseman Kaylan Howard and right fielder Samantha Pappas added doubles and now rank fourth and sixth all-time on the UO career list (38 / 37).

Oregon's first two batters in the line-up - sophomore center fielder Janie Takeda and junior shortstop Courtney Ceo - also went 1-for-3.

Arizona starter Estela Pinon (9-6) struck out one, walked two, allowed three hits, and three of her four runs allowed were earned.

Shelby Babcock pitched the next 1.1 innings, struck out none, walked three, yielded four hits, and all five of her runs allowed were earned.

Nancy Bowling retired the final two outs on plays by the infielders.

Adding in Oregon's 5-3 win Friday and 8-0 five-inning victory Saturday, Peterson led the Ducks for the three games in hitting (.714), homers (2-tied), RBI (5-tied) and slugging (1.714).

Eight other starters topped .300 - sophomore third baseman Jamie Rae Sullivan (.500, 2B), senior left fielder Allie Burger (.500, 2 BB), Howard (.429, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Takeda (.400, 4 H, 2B), freshman catcher Janelle Lindvall (.333, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Cuico (.333, 2 HR, 5 RBI), Pappas (.333, 2B, 2 BB) and freshman left fielder Danica Mercado (.333, BB).

Moore also got the win Friday night, while freshman Cheridan Hawkins notched her fifth save of the campaign.

The latter pitcher (14-3 on the season) added another of UO's all-time 20 no-hitters on Saturday with her five-inning, 8-0 victory. The three-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week struck out 11 batters - her fifth double-digit tally of the season - walked one and hit two batters.

In head coach Mike White's four seasons at the helm, UO is 8-4 in the series with the Wildcats after the Ducks staked 2-1 advantages last year in Tucson and in 2011 in Eugene.

Prior to his arrival, UA owned a 76-13 edge in the team's meetings between 1984-2009.

After claiming its fifth Pac-12 series this season, Oregon stands alone atop the conference standings with a 13-2 league mark.

No. 2 Arizona State (9-3) follows in second place, ahead of No. 13 Washington (third, 10-5), No. 8 California (fourth, 7-5), No. 15 Stanford (fifth, 5-7), No. 19 UCLA (sixth, 5-10), No. 17 Arizona (seventh, 4-8), Utah (eighth, 4-11) and Oregon State (ninth, 3-9).

"We have a lot of games left this year, so we have to take it one game at a time," Moore said. "Our team is hitting all cylinders. We're scoring lots of runs, and the defense is doing a great job - they're making it easy for the pitchers to succeed."

Looking ahead, UO travels to returning Pacific Coast Softball Conference champion Portland State (15-21) for a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 16 that starts at 4 p.m.