OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Washington defeated Oregon 3-1 in the 2017 Women’s College World Series on Thursday from ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. It is a double elimination tournament, so the 52-7 Ducks are not done yet.
Over the last 35 years, only two teams that lost their opening game went on to win the national championship. Oregon is making their fourth appearance at the WCWS in the last six years. Winning with their back against the proverbial wall is nothing new for this team.
Megan Kleist (1.21 ERA) entered the contest ranked No. 10 in the country in earned run average. Opponents were hitting just .200 against her in 2017. At times this season, the dominant righty carried the Ducks on her shoulders.
The first batter of the game shot a liner back at Kleist. The sophomore calmly knocked it down, recovered and fired over to first for the easy out. She fielded the next out, as well. Then Kleist blew away the powerful Morganne Flores with a nasty rise ball for her first of two strikeouts in the game.
Kleist worked seven solid innings for the complete game, allowing three runs on just four hits. The right-hander struck out two, but walked four Washington hitters. It was a great outing that was dampened with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
For as great as Kleist was, Washington starter Taran Alvelo (2.04 ERA) was slightly better. She finished the game with a compete game after 7.0 innings pitched. Alvelo yielded one run on five hits. She walked three batters, while striking out three.
Alvelo impressively threw a first-pitch strike to the first 14 of 15 Duck batters.
“Taran is a pitcher that has special stuff inside her,” said UW head coach Heather Tarr. “It's just a matter of time that she needs to figure out how to apply it to this game and how to adjust to the game.”
Kirstyn Thomas recorded the first hit against Kleist to lead off the third inning. She was advanced into scoring position following a sacrifice bunt. Sis Bates then blistered a triple down the line to score her, 1-0. Danica Mercado nabbed the second run at home with a frozen rope from right field.
With over 100 stolen bases this season, head coach Mike White and his Oregon team are NEVER out of a ballgame. However, Mia Camuso was caught stealing by Flores at second base to conclude the fourth frame. The two Pac-12 teams combined for a total of one run on six hits through the first four innings.
Senior Nikki Udria made the play of the day with a sprawling diving catch in the top of the sixth inning. The All-American shortstop fully extended to her backhand side to snag the line drive.
Offensively, Udria extended her hit streak to seven games. She had her incredible 43-game on-base streak snapped before the tournament commenced.
Thomas delivered again later in the game when she blasted a two-run home run with two outs in the seventh inning. The dinger extended Washington’s lead, 3-0. She was the only player in the game to record multiple hits on Thursday.
The cardiac kids were looking to replicate their 4-run final inning rally against Kentucky.
Junior Lauren Lindvall smashed a double to the wall to open the final frame for Oregon. Next, Jenna Lilley reached base after she was plunked for the second time on Thursday. Alvelo and Lilley were teammates in travel ball before college.
“They did both play on the same club team and against each other in high school, and Jenna had very good success off her,” said White. “Obviously her mindset was to come inside. But to be hit twice like that, I don't know. I don't know where the pitches were. The umpire has the best view, so that was the question I had for him. If he thought it was intentional, then he should say something.”
With two Ducks on the pond and nobody out, Mercado laced a shot up the middle. But, a brilliant play by Bates at shortstop prevented Oregon from scoring and recorded the force out at second.
Madi Bishop scored Oregon’s first run of the game with her pinch-hit RBI groundout to second base, 3-1. The Ducks brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Gwen Svekis. However, she grounded out to third base to end the game and halt the late run.
“I was able to take a deep breath and execute what I needed to,” said Alvelo. “Those first few pitches, the inning kind of got away from me. But, I was able to bring it back in and do what I needed to do for my teammates.”
If you’d like to check out the box score, click this link: BOX SCORE
The Ducks were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
A batter reached base in five straight innings after being hit by a pitch in Thursday’s tilt. Rivalry or coincidence? You decide.
“I certainly hope it wasn't intentional,” White reaffirmed. “It's a close ballgame, I don't think it would be. She was just trying to come inside. I don't think there was any bad blood.”
UO is now 1-3 vs UW this season.
In the middle of March, the Huskies took two of three from the Ducks at The Jane in Eugene. Washington actually started Oregon’s only 3-game losing streak of the season.
Sis Bates Saves Run From Scoring with a crucial play in the seventh inning.
Kirstyn Thomas 2-Run HR that fan catches one-handed with a beer in the other hand.
Next up for Oregon (52-7) is No. 15 Baylor (48-14) from the Big 12. First pitch is set for 11:30 a.m. PT on Saturday from Oklahoma City. The Ducks will be looking to avoid another early exit from the WCWS when they take the field.