EUGENE – The No. 14 University of Oregon softball team (31-9, 8-5) extended its series win streak to six games with its doubleheader sweep vs. Portland State (18-20, 8-4) Wednesday afternoon at Howe Field.
The Ducks also raised their season non-conference record to 23-4 with their 10-4 and 1-0 victories over the returning NCAA tourney qualifier Vikings. UO similarly staked a pair of series wins under third-year head coach Mike White in both 2010 and '11.
Oregon freshman Karissa Hovinga (10-3) started and staked wins in both games Wednesday, and in her 169-pitch combined afternoon efforts she struck out six, walked three, allowed nine hits in her 12 innings.
Joining the team on Wednesday was freshman Liz Brenner who also played for Oregon's volleyball and basketball teams. The Portland, Ore., native is a former 6A all-state softball first-team choice as a prep sophomore and catcher/first baseman for the Northwest Blaze club team that won the 2009 ASA 16-U national title. She is better known in Duck circles as an All-Pac-12 Freshman Team volleyball outside hitter last fall, and one of its top basketball post players this winter.
One of the state’s top women’s prep athletes ever, Brenner was the 2010-11 state player of the year for Jesuit High School in both volleyball and basketball, and the state shot put champion and javelin runner-up among her many state honors in all four sports.
Her addition was initiated after the returning NCAA Super Softball Regional advancers lost infielder/back-up catcher and sophomore Courtney Ceo to a season-ending knee injury last weekend at Utah. The Ducks are without two catchers from last year’s roster – Ashley Kivett and Jordan Reeves – and have no other current players with prior catching experience.
The Meadow Vista, Calif., native Ceo became the team’s back-up signal-caller last fall, and had started seven of the first 19 games behind the plate. On the season, the returning All-Region Second-Team choice led the squad in hits (45), and ranked second in stolen bases (10) and third in hitting (.378) and slugging (.431).
On the softball diamond this spring, Brenner will back up one of the team’s top players – sophomore Alexa Peterson. An All-Pac-12 Freshman Team and All-Region Second Team choice last year, Peterson is hitting .309 overall, and has started 30 games at catcher.
In the fall volleyball season, Brenner was key to the team’s fifth postseason trip the last six years (and 21-10, 14-8 Pac-12 mark). The All-Pac-12 Freshman Team added her second Pac-12 Freshman of the Week laurel in November after she tied the league regular season high in kills (31) at then-No. 5 Stanford, and hit .651 - the Pac-12’s best season mark with 20 or more kills and eighth-best overall. Overall, she had 14 double-digit kill tallies (including 11 in league play) and topped .300 in nine matches. For the season, she topped Duck newcomers and ranked third on the squad in kills (2.74 per set), and stood third among starters in hitting (.241) and points (2.96 p/s).
After an injury to the Ducks’ top basketball forward and senior All-Pac-12 pick Amanda Johnson in December, Brenner joined the the hoops squad in similar fashion. In her 21 contests at forward, Brenner started eight games, and averaged 5.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 23.8 minutes a game. Her season scoring high - 16 points - came against USC in late January only a month after she joined the team.
*GAME 2 RECAP
Hovinga pitched the first five innings, struck out four, walked one and allowed three hits in her five innings. Junior Jessica Moore got her second save of the season after she pitched the final two innings, retired five of her six outs via strikeouts, walked none, and allowed one hits and no runs.
The latter All-Pac-12 returnee climbed Duck all-time lists in career innings (seventh, 577.2) and season strikeouts (ninth, 161).
UO scored its lone run in the first inning after junior Kaylan Howard and freshman Janie Takeda led off the game with singles. The two moved up on a double steal, and Howard scored on a ground-out by sophomore Kailee Cuico.
With only four hits in the game and five left on base, PSU’s best chance to score came in the fifth inning when it put two of its first three runners on via singles. However, Moore answered the challenge with a pair of strikeouts to end the inning.
For the game, Duck junior outfielders Samantha Pappas (2-for-2) and Allie Burger (2-for-3) each rapped a pair of hits. Four others had single hits – Howard (1-for-3), Takeda (1-for-3), and freshmen Sara Goodrum (1-for-1) and Jamie Rae Sullivan (1-for-1, walk).
Like Hovinga, Viking right-hander Raya Johnson (2-7) started her second game of the day and pitched four innings, struck out two, walked three, allowed six hits and one earned run. Anna Bertrand pitched the final two innings, struck out one, walked one, allowed two hits and no runs.
At the plate for PSU, four batters hit safely once.
*GAME 1 RECAP
Oregon began a busy five-day, five-game stretch with a 10-4 win over Portland State in Wednesday afternoon's doubleheader opener.
UO scored one run in the first innings, two in the second, one in the third and six in the fifth inning en route to its seventh double-digit run tally of the season.
In contrast, PSU scored one run in the first inning, two in the fifth and a final run in the sixth inning.
For the game, six Ducks hit safely, and four had multiple hits – Howard (2-for-3, 2 RBI, walk), Takeda (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Kelsey Chambers (2-for-4, 3 RBI) and Peterson (2-for-3, 2 RBI). Howard's pair of doubles tied the team season high and raised her season total to 10, one shy of Chambers' team-best total.
PSU’s Alicia Fine (2-for-3) was the lone Viking with multiple hits, and four others had single hits.
Viking starter Raya Johnson (2-6) struck out five, walked seven, gave up 10 hits, and nine of her 10 runs allowed were earned in the complete game.
Hovinga struck out two, walked two, allowed six hits, and three of her four runs allowed were earned in her eighth complete game of the season.
Looking ahead, UO hosts its second top-ranked foe of the season in No. 1 California (40-2, 11-1) for three weekend tilts on Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (5 p.m.) and Sunday (noon).