Eugene – trailing 5-2 at the top of the seventh inning Saturday, a sweep for Oregon’s red-hot softball team in the NCAA softball tournament super regional seemed unlikely to most. Luckily for these ladies, the outlook of “most” isn’t on the agenda.
Oregon stormed back from a three run deficit against 14th-seed Kentucky for an exhilarating 6-5 win. “Our team just fought and fought and fought and it shows the character of this team to come back from three runs down against a very good pitching staff, good team and good defense”, said Oregon coach Mike White.
After a four-run seventh inning from the Freshman-laden but veteran-looking Ducks capped by first baseman Mia Camuso’s hit down the line between Kentucky’s third baseman and left fielder gave UO the lead back at 6-5, it came down to a defensive stand in the bottom of the 9th and Oregon pitcher Miranda Elish was able to incite a ground out to third base that clinched the Duck’s 15th consecutive victory, helped erase memories of last year’s super regional collapse against UCLA, and sent the 2,517 at Jane Sanders Stadium into a frenzy under a cloudless Eugene sky.
But most importantly, it sent the UO women back to the College World Series in Oklahoma City, their fourth appearance in the last six seasons.
On Kentucky’s end, a frightening sense of déjà vu had to be prevalent. Back in February the Wildcats also led Oregon by three before an Oregon rally in the final two innings sealed a Duck victory.
This was also the second time in the last week Oregon had secured a come-from-behind victory as they stormed back for a win over Wisconsin in the first game of their regional last Saturday. White appears to developed a group of “comeback kids”.
“You have to get on base. You have to find a way to put some pressure on their defense or on their pitching.” said White, “It is about just fight. You’ve got to fight.”
That fight has Oregon OKC bound and could lead to a legitimate shot at a National Championship. Stay tuned.