The No. 6 Oregon Ducks (25-5, 2-1) won two of the three-game series against the No. 3 UCLA Bruins (25-2, 1-2).
Before Oregon began conference play it appeared the Ducks were being overshadowed by the two undefeated teams in NCAA softball: Washington and UCLA. Although we still have almost an entire PAC-12 schedule to play, this series felt crucial if the Ducks were going to compete for the conference crown.
The Ducks have now proven their merit by beating the previously unbeaten Bruins. All three games took place at Jane Sanders Stadium in front of a spirited Eugene crowd. After a tough loss on Friday, Oregon came back strong to even the score. In the bottom of the 7th the Ducks took the series with a walk-off home run. Here’s a quick run-through of the the Bruins visit to Eugene:
Friday, March 16th
(UCLA - 6, Ducks - 2)
Oregon struggled to score at all in the first matchup against UCLA, sneaking in two runs at the bottom of the seventh while the Bruins had already built a 6-0 lead. In the first inning the Ducks had an opportunity to start the game strong by loading the bases but Rachel Garcia struck out three consecutive Duck batters to kill the momentum.
Saturday, March 17th
(Ducks - 7, UCLA - 5)
Earlier in the night the Sun Devils had beaten the previously undefeated Washington Huskies, leaving the UCLA Bruins as the only undefeated team in the NCAA. Luckily Miranda Elish (11-0) stepped up and took control of the game by pitching five scoreless innings. The Ducks built a 7-0 lead in the fifth and almost mercy ruled the Bruins, but UCLA responded by scoring two in the sixth and then three in the seventh, though it was too little too late.
Sunday, March 18th
(Ducks - 3, UCLA - 0)
The Oregon Ducks took full advantage of their momentum by defeating the Bruins and taking the series, though the final game came down to the wire. Sophomore Shannon Rhodes ended the game with a three-run walk off homer in the bottom of the seventh to solidify the Ducks’ dominance over one of the nation’s best teams. Megan Kleist came in clutch with a six-hit shutout and improved to 8-4 on the season while also lowering her ERA to 0.90.
The Ducks’ series win against the Bruins have drastically changed the PAC-12 standings. Oregon is now third in the conference and UCLA has fallen to number six. And what is the only thing that can make a Duck victory sweeter? That’s right, a Huskies loss. The former undefeated team and top-ranked team in the country lost to ASU twice in Tempe and has now fallen to fifth in conference. In a surprising turn of events the state of Arizona now leads the PAC, though it is still very early in conference play.
Conference Standings Record/Conference
Arizona (24-3-0, 3-0-0)
Arizona State (24-4-0, 2-1-0)
Oregon (25-5-0, 2-1-0)
Oregon State (19-10-0, 2-1-0)
Washington (29-2-0, 1-2-0)
UCLA (25-2-0 , 1-2-0)
California (24-5-0, 1-2-0)
Stanford (19-8-0, 0-0-0)
Utah (14-10-0, 0-3-0)
Up next for the Oregon Ducks is a Civil War series in Corvallis, Oregon against the unranked Beavers (19-10, 2-1)
3/29, Thursday, 4PM PT, PAC-12 Network
3/30, Friday, 3PM PT, PAC-12 Network
3/31, Saturday, 3PM PT, PAC-12 Network