Ducks primed to feast home at Howe

Ducks primed to feast home at Howe

Thursday, May 16   
Game 1 - North Carolina-Wisconsin, 3 p.m.   
Game 2 - #3 seed Oregon-BYU, 6 p.m.   

Friday, May 17
Game 3 - Game 1&2 Winners, 11 a.m.   
Game 4 - Game 1&2 Losers, 2 p.m.   
Game 5 - Game 4 Winner & Game 3 Loser, 5 p.m.   

Saturday, May 18
Game 6 - NCAA Regional Final, Noon  
Game 7 - *NCAA Regional Final (*if necessary*), 3 p.m.


EUGENE – Coming off its first-ever Pac-12 title, the #3 NCAA Tournament-seeded University of Oregon softball team (46-9, 19-5) kicks off the postseason this weekend for the second straight season in Eugene.

The Ducks welcome BYU (33-23), North Carolina (39-19) and No. 25 Wisconsin (42-11) this Thursday-Saturday, May 16-18 for the three-day, double-elimination event.

This weekend’s field is one of the nation’s best with three teams ranked top 45 nationally in this week’s NCAA RPI ratings – Oregon (4), Wisconsin (24), North Carolina (42) – while BYU also won their conference this season.

Sporting its highest-ever NCAA seeding, UO will make its fourth straight postseason appearance under head coach Mike White and 15th overall since the first NCAA Tournament in 1982.

UO owns a 9-0 mark in regional action under White after it swept NCAA Regionals at Georgia Tech (2010), Penn State (2011) and at home (2012). In that stretch, Ducks made their first three Super Regional trips, and last year’s World Series trip was its second ever and first since 1989.

Next weekend, 16 Super Regional sites will host best-of-three, two-day play on Thursday-Sunday, May 23-26, with every game televised by ESPN networks.

The winner of the Eugene Regional will play the winner of the Lincoln NCAA Regional that includes #14 seed Nebraska (40-13) Stanford (37-19), Tulsa (42-14) and Northern Iowa (26-24).

The eight Super Regional winners then advance to the ESPN-televised Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, May 30-June 5. More information on the NCAA Tournament and WCWS is available at the website.

At No. 5 Arizona State last week, the No. 2 Ducks lost their only series of the Pac-12 slate by a 2-1 count. ASU won the first two games by 3-2 and 5-3 scores, and the Ducks took the finale, 4-2.

Last week, BYU (33-23, 19-5) earned its ninth straight postseason invite after it won the Pacific Coast Softball Conference by a three-game margin.

No. 25 Wisconsin (42-11,16-7) won the Big Ten Tournament Sunday after it defeated Minnesota in the final (9-3), No. 6 Michigan in the semifinal (9-3) and Northwestern (3-0) in its opener.

Receiving its 11th NCAA invitation the last 13 years, North Carolina (39-19, 13-8) advanced to the semifinal of the ACC Tournament last weekend, and has ranked top 25 much of the 2013 season.

The Ducks played BYU in last year’s NCAA Regional in Eugene and staked 4-1 and 6-4 wins en route to their first NCAA Regional title, and own a 6-3 advantage all-time in the series dating back to 2002.

UO edged North Carolina in 2011 (1-0 (8)) and ’12 (5-4), while UNC claimed the other meeting in ’09 (3-0).

The Ducks and Badgers last met in 2001 when UO won 2-0 and 3-2, and Oregon also claimed their first contest in 1999 (5-0).

Sporting No. 3 rankings this week in the USA Softball and NFCA polls, Oregon (46-9, 19-5) won seven of its Pac-12 series this season, and claimed its first-ever Pac-12 title by a three-game margin over No. 5 Arizona State (16-8) and No. 12 Washington (16-8).

No. 13 Stanford (13-11) followed in fourth place in the Pac-12 standings, ahead of No. 17 California (fifth, 10-14), No. 15 UCLA (fifth, 10-14), Arizona (seventh, 9-15), Oregon State (eighth, 8-16) and Utah (ninth, 7-17).

Overall this season, Oregon sports a 15-8 mark vs. top-25 foes with wins over three WCWS returnees – No. 4 California (twice), No. 5 Arizona State and No. 11 LSU – and fellow NCAA tourney veterans No. 14 Michigan, No. 15 Stanford (3), No. 15 Washington (2), No. 16 UCLA (2) and No. 17 Arizona (3). Three of its top-20 losses came in non-conference play to No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 14 Florida and No. 20 Hawai’i, along with road decisions at No. 15 UW (2-1), No. 4 Cal (3-1), No. 5 Arizona State (3-2, 5-3) and No. 16 UCLA (7-5).

Adding in games vs. other 2012 NCAA tourney returnees, UO is 24-8 with its victories over Long Beach State, LIU-Brooklyn, Oregon State (three times), Portland State (twice) and San Diego State (twice).

Altogether, Oregon's schedule is one of the nation's toughest and featured 32 of its 55 games against NCAA tourney qualifiers from last year (including five Women's College World Series qualifiers).