The 1 Seed Oregon Ducks defeated the 8 Seed Arizona State Sun Devils by a score of 11-6 in the opening game of the Women’s College World Series. The Ducks had their best offensive performance in the World Series (in the modern era) with 11 runs on 14 hits.
Miranda Elish got off to a rocky start. The second team all-american allowed a leadoff single, then with 2 outs the Sun Devils hit a two RBI homer off the bat of freshman DeNae Chatman. Flashes of Oregon’s 9-6 loss to Kentucky ran through the minds of Duck fans - a game in which the Wildcats scored a three-run homer in the first.
Luckily, Oregon responded in the bottom of the inning when senior Gwen Svekis hit a two RBI single that scored the speedy Jenna Lilley and Alexis Mack and tied the game. In the second inning, the sensational sophomore Elish caught a bullet of a ball and rocketed it to first for the double-play, retiring the side.
Shannon Rhodes came up big with an RBI single to score Mack and take the lead in the third. This put Lauren Burke at bat with two in scoring position and one out. The hometown hero has been on a tear in the postseason, and once again, she did not disappoint - this time connecting with a two-run triple.
Mack added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth- a bunt that scored Lilley thanks to an ASU error. The Ducks held a 6-2 lead at the top of the fifth and appeared to be coasting to an easy victory after a bad start, but ASU’s Morgan Howe hit a three-run homer to right center to make it 6-5. Elish allowed five runs in five innings, and the momentum had shifted in favor of the Devils. However, just as they did in the first inning, Oregon responded with a couple runs. Haley Cruse nailed a homer, her second of the season, to give the Ducks some breathing room.
Megan Kleist, in her first relief appearance of the year, entered in the sixth with an 8-5 lead. 1-2-3 the Sun Devils fell. Then, the Ducks continued their scoring-streak with a three-run homer to left center by Rhodes, and Lauren Burke’s double threatened to run-rule the Sun Devils with Cruse at bat, but ASU was able to retire the side.
The final inning felt a little closer than it needed to be; Kleist allowed a leadoff walk, then a single, then a score with no outs. Finally, Kleist was able to regain her composure and win the damn thing by forcing an out on third (though the runner was actually safe since Lilley’s foot was clearly not on the base) and striking out the final two Sun Devils.
The Ducks will face fifth-seeded Washington at 4PM tomorrow.