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Scouting Softball: Ducks Second in the Polls, But First Where It Matters

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The Oregon Duck Softball Team is first in RPI, which may be good enough for the top seed in the tournament.

FloSports: FloSoftball Mary Nutter 1 Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

(This is a weekly series focused on previewing and discussing Oregon Softball. Feel free to use this as a game thread for the upcoming series against the Utah Utes)

The Oregon Ducks are No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll, but due to their recent play it’s hard to argue that they are not the best team in the country. They are coming off a sweep of the huskies in Seattle, and have only Utah and California standing in their way from locking down a potential top seed in the playoffs, because the Ducks are No.1 in RPI, which is what decision makers pay special attention to when it comes to seeding.

The Utes are coming to Eugene and you know it’s going to be a good series when each game has its own name! On Friday, the Ducks will play their Star Wars game, on Saturday, their Beoregon game (whatever that means), and Sunday will be Senior Night- a night that will honor the careers of Gwen Svekis, Jenna Lilley, Lauren Lindvall, and DJ Sanders.

But enough about the future, let’s go back to last week and revisit the series against Washington (not to rub their nose in it...)

DUCKS DOMINATE HUSKIES

GAME 1

DUCKS 7 - huskies 2

The opening game of the series carried a lot of importance to both teams. For Washington it was a chance for redemption after being swept by the Bruins, and for Oregon it was a chance to continue unparalleled momentum after snapping college softball’s longest active winning streak held by the two-time national champion, the Oklahoma Sooners.

The Huskies drew first blood after Trysten Melhart drove in a score in the third. Then, in the fifth, DJ Sanders and Gwen Svekis batted in two runners for the lead, but the huskies tied it at the bottom of the inning. It became a pitchers duel, bleeding over into extra innings until Sanders smashed a glorious grand slam in the 9th inning to put the game out of reach. The memorable hit followed a score by Lauren Lindvall due to a throwing error. The score was 7-2 at the top of the 9th, and Megan Kleist proved too much for the huskies at the bottom of the inning.

GAME 2

DUCKS 4 - huskies 2

Washington was desperate for a win at this point. A loss meant a definite tumble in the rankings, it also meant the huskies would fall further behind UCLA and Oregon in the conference race. This time Oregon scored first, thanks to a Svekis single and the fast feet of Jenna Lilley. The huskies responded at the bottom of the first with two runs to take the lead. Lindvall hit a two-run homer to center and the Ducks were up 3-2 in the fourth.

Oregon would score one final time on a fielding error in the 6th, but Washington failed to find another run, though they had their opportunity to win it in the 7th. With runners on first and second, Sis Bates came to the plate. However, the huskies’ best batter was struck out by Miranda Elish. and Thomas fouled out to first to seal the win for the Ducks.

GAME 3

DUCKS 5 - huskies 3

Husky Softball Stadium was sold out for the third day in a row. And for the third day in a row, the hometown fans were wondering why they ever left their couches as once again the Ducks won in dramatic fashion to complete the sweep.

When Oregon played Arizona State, the Ducks dropped the final game of the series after dominating the first two. It was obviously a lack of focus on their part, and for a moment it seemed the Ducks would drop another potential sweep.

After scoring five runs in the third Oregon led 5-1, but would not score for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Washington edged closer to tying with a run in the 6th and 7th, but Miranda Elish entered in the final inning and preserved the lead. A double play and confident pitching gave the Ducks the sweep against what was once thought of as the best team in the country.

UP NEXT: UTAH UTES

  • The Utah Utes are 20-25 and 2-16 in conference, good enough for last place in the conference of champions!
  • They are coming off a seven game losing streak, lowlighted by a 0-12, run-rule loss to the Sun Devils.
  • In fact, the Utes have been swept in five of six series against conference opponents.
  • Their best wins are against Texas A & M, New Mexico, Saint Mary’s, UC Santa Barbara, and a series win against Stanford.
  • Their worst losses are against Arizona (3-10), Washington (0-12, 5 inn), Arizona State (0-12, 5 inn), and damn near their entire conference schedule.
  • Utah will face OSU after their trip to Eugene. Fortunately for them, the Utes will have home field advantage against the Beavers.
  • Oregon will be the eighth team that Utah has faced currently in the top ten.
  • The Utah Utes are not very good at softball this year.
  • Katie Donovan, a senior from Salem, Oregon, is the active PAC-12 leader in career strikeouts and second in wins.
  • Every time these two teams have met, Oregon has been ranked in the top 15.
  • Oregon leads the series, 16-1.

TOP 25

PAC-12 softball continues to be the best softball, with five teams in the top ten and half the conference in the top 25. Oregon remained at the No. 2 spot in the polls after sweeping Seattle, but as previously mentioned, possess the highest RPI ranking and the tiebreaker over UCLA. After another week of fantastic play, the Bruins are No. 1 in the country for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, the hapless huskies have fallen to No. 6 due to their sixth straight loss to elite competition- the UCLA Bruins and the the Oregon Ducks, respectively.

The Arizona schools have been neck and neck for much of the season; currently they are third (ASU) and fifth (UA) place in conference standings as well as No 8 and No. 10 in the rankings. No. 24 California once again made it into the top 25, but face a brutal season finale with six games against the top two teams in the country.

PAC-12 STANDINGS

1 UCLA (15 - 3) 45 -3

2 Oregon (15 -3) 41 - 7

3 Arizona State (12 - 6) 39 - 9

4 Washington (12 - 8) 41 - 8

5 Arizona (11 - 10) 35 - 13

6 California (7 - 10) 34 - 13

7 Oregon State (7 -11) 26 - 23

8 Stanford (2- 16) 23 - 26

9 Utah (2- 16) 20 - 25

UTAH UTES - FRIDAY, 5/4, 7 PM, EUGENE, OR, PAC-12 NETWORKS

UTAH UTES - SATURDAY, 5/5, 6:30 PM, EUGENE, OR, PAC-12 NETWORKS

UTAH UTES - SUNDAY, 5/6, 4 PM, EUGENE, OR, PAC-12 NETWORKS