Oregon's 2015 Women's College World Series campaign began in the cold and wet, with a familiar foe in Ally Carda and the UCLA Bruins. Despite the familiarity, Cheridan Hawkins and the Ducks were never able to settle in and play their game on a night where nothing seemed to go Oregon's way.
Hawkins had a tough start to the game, but not in the pitcher's circle. A first-inning foul ball by Janie Takeda screamed into the dugout, hit the back wall, and hit Hawkins in the back as she sat on the bench. Hawkins would stay in the game, but her first inning back out in the circle is when UCLA struck, with Stephany Larosa taking a high fastball out to straightaway centerfield to lead off the inning. Three batters later, Gabrielle Maurice added a solo homerun of her own, and it was 2-0 UCLA after an inning and a half of play.
After two innings, lightning struck. Not the Oregon-metaphorical lightning, but actual lightning. The game was delayed for 51 minutes before play resumed in the top of the third.
This was a night where seemingly all of Oregon's line drives, like Jenna Lilley's to end a rally in the third, or Alyssa Gillespie's with the bases loaded in the fourth, were right at Bruins fielders. The Ducks left six runners on base in innings 1-4, and left opportunities on the field as well, with Janie Takeda being thrown out at third in the first inning after misreading a single by Lilley, and Nikki Udria being doubled off first base on a line drive in the third.
After three innings of scoreless ball from both pitchers, UCLA broke things open in the sixth, scoring five two-out runs after Alyssa Gillespie couldn't keep a short fly ball in her glove that would have ended the inning. The last of those five sixth-inning runs chased Hawkins from the game, finishing the night with 7 earned runs on 8 hits, in 5 2/3 innings of work.
To Oregon's credit, they kept fighting to the last out and Lauren Lindvall broke up the shutout in the bottom of the seventh with a single down the right field line. The game ended just as it transpired, with a smoked line drive from Jenna Lilley, hit right at the left fielder.
Oregon now enters the loser's bracket, and must win twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday to advance to the championship series. The Ducks finally get that matchup with Alabama we've all been waiting for, at 11:30 AM Pacific on Saturday. WE WANT BAMA.