Ducks sweep Civil War, claim 1st ever Pac-12 championship

Ducks sweep Civil War, claim 1st ever Pac-12 championship »Play Video

EUGENE - The No. 4 University of Oregon softball team (45-7, 18-3) captured its first-ever Pac-12 regular season title with a five-inning, 8-0 Civil War victory over Oregon State (32-20, 7-14) Sunday afternoon at Howe Field.
The Ducks swept the three-game series with the Beavers for the second time in three years, and capped a fitting Senior Day weekend that recognized one of UO's greatest senior classes.

"Our ladies really seized the moment," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "They stepped up their game, and gave us another special memory that we will never forget. OSU is a good team and challenged us, and our players responded, and didn't shy away from the pressure. Today was an emotional day, and we embraced it and seized the opportunity."

Senior Jessica Moore (24-3) pitched her third shutout of the year, and her nine strikeouts in five innings was one off her season high.

"I was so excited and relieved after the game," Moore said. "We had been thinking about this weekend all season long, so it's a relief. We knew what we were capable of back in the fall, and have embraced the challenge. Today, I took it pitch by pitch and did my best to help the team."

The returning All-American allowed only two hits, and walked only one in her 10th complete game of the season.

The school career holder in wins (97), strikeouts (875), innings (862) and appearances (168), also moved up the Oregon all-time season list for wins in a season (24, fourth-tied) and matched her sophomore season mark from 2011.

"Today was such a great day," Moore said. "To win it this way at home, in front of our fans, parents and friends made it even more special."

The Ducks scored all eight of their runs in the third inning after it sent 11 players to the plate.

UO loaded the bases initially after junior shortstop Courtney Ceo led off with a bunt single, senior second baseman Kaylan Howard was hit by a pitch, and junior first baseman Kailee Cuico singled via a bunt.

Senior right fielder Samantha Pappas followed with a walk, and junior DP Alexa Peterson singled to center field for UO's first two runs.

Feshman third baseman Koral Costa walked for Oregon's third run, and OSU replaced starter Tina Andreana with reliever Marina Demore with the bases still loaded.

Senior left fielder Allie Burger followed with another RBI single to left field for UO's fourth run.

Sophomore right fielder Janie Takeda capped scoring with her first career grand slam after she drilled a pitch off the top of the right field scoreboard.

"It felt good right when I made contact," Takeda said. "We went in knowing what it would take to win and we focused on all doing our part and taking care of the little things. It was a little surreal to end the game this way and for a Pac-12 title. I still have chills."

In her 2.1 innings, Oregon State's Andreana (9-6) ended with two strikeouts, five walks, four hits allowed and six earned runs.

Demore worked the last 1.2 innings, struck out one, walked none, allowed two hits, and two earned runs.

The Beavers' two hits both came to open the third inning - singles by Ashley Sanchez and Elizabeth Santana. A two-out walk to Natalie Hampton loaded the bases, but Moore forced a pop-out to shortstop to end the inning.

The past two months, the Ducks have won every series of the league season with sweeps of No. 15 Stanford, Utah and No. 17 Arizona at home and 2-1 advantages at No. 4 California, No. 15 Washington and No. 16 UCLA.

"Winning a Pac-12 title is not easy," White said. "so when we add that sign to the center field wall it will mean a lot to the fans, the university, and a lot of alumni. This was another big step for the program, and now we have bigger things ahead at ASU next weekend and the postseason."

UO's previous highest finish was a runner-up effort in the six-team conference in 1989 - the same season as its first Women's College World Series trip.

"Our senior class has meant so much to this program, and teaching each following class how to win," White added. "Jess has been our rock for four years, and carried this team when we needed it. Last postseason and this year, the team continued to step up and raise its game."

Before Sunday's game, the Ducks honored Moore and three other four-year stars who have compiled impressive resumes.

Among their many notable all-time rankings, Kaylan Howard is tied for the school career homer record (37), while Samantha Pappas is the all-time Duck leader in career RBI (150).

Allie Burger, a former All-Pac-12 Freshman Team and All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, has also left her mark on the record books with 184 starts, a .309 career batting mark, and .387 single-season average from her freshman campaign.

Looking ahead to Thursday-Saturday, May 9-11, UO heads to World Series returnee and No. 3 Arizona State (43-9, 14-7) for a regular season-ending, three-game set in Tempe.

On Sunday, May 12, the 64-team NCAA Tournament bracket will be unveiled on ESPNU at 7 p.m. Pacific Time.

The following weekend on Thursday-Sunday, May 16-19, 16 NCAA Regional sites will host three-day, four-team, double-elimination action.

The following 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 eight remaining teams 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.