Oregon’s softball team traveled across the country this weekend to play a series of games in North Carolina. The Ducks had a very successful weekend, winning a single game against North Carolina-Greensboro, and going undefeated in the Carolina Classic tournament.
Oregon 12 vs. North Carolina-Greensboro 4, 10 Inn. (Thursday) - The Ducks opened the 5-game road trip with a single game against the Spartans and seemed to have a bit of jet lag. Luckily, Oregon shook it off, and rallied late to win 12 - 4 in 10 innings.
A two-run dinger in the bottom of the second inning gave UNCG the 2-0 lead, and the Spartans made it stand up until Oregon’s half of the 6th. Oregon finally got on the board on a Paige Sinicki home run and closed to 2 - 1. UNCG came right back in the bottom of that inning another home run of its own to lead 3 - 1.
The Ducks came up in the top of the 7th needing at least a 2-run rally to extend the game. With one out, Hannah Galey walked. Allee Bunker drove a single to right, sending Galey to 2nd. Hanna Delgado was up next and beat out a hit to 2nd base, giving the Ducks loaded bases with only one out. KK Humphreys then reached first on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice grounder to second base, plating Galey and Bunker and moving Delgado to second. With the game tied, the next two Duck batters flied out to left field, ending the top half of the inning.
The Ducks held in the bottom of the 7th, sending the game to extra innings. The teams traded homers again in the 8th inning, with Vallery Wong going yard for the Ducks. The game was still 4- 4 after a scoreless 9th inning, and it was on to the 10th. Initially, the inning did not look like it would be the decider for Oregon, as the first two batters struck out swinging and popped out to 2nd. But Karissa Ornelas drew a walk as a pinch hitter and Wong singled to move Ornelas to 2nd base. Gabby Herrera came on to pinch run for Ornelas and Hannah Galey walked again to put three Ducks on the pond. Allee Bunker then doubled through third, plating Wong and Herrera and giving Oregon its first lead of the game at 6 - 4. The Ducks were just getting rolling. Delgado followed with a single to center scoring Bunker and Galey and taking 2nd base on the throw to the plate. Humphreys homered to clear the bases and give Oregon a 10 - 4 lead. UNCG tried a pitching change, with no success. Rachel Cid reached on a throwing error, and Ariel Carlson completed Oregon’s offensive explosion with another Duck homer to left field, bringing the game to what would be its final score - 12 - 4 Oregon. UNCG went down in order in their half of the tenth, and Oregon had awakened just in time.
Oregon used three pitchers in the game, with Reagan Breedlove (1-0) coming on for the three extra innings and getting the win for the Ducks. Makenna Kliethermes started and went 5 innings, and Stevie Hansen completed 2 innings for Oregon.
Carolina Classic Tournament
The Ducks traveled from Greensboro to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for 4 games in the weekend’s Carolina Classic Tournament.
Oregon 12 vs. Penn State 4 (Friday) - Although the scores were the same, and there was one similar inning, Oregon’s win over the Nittany Lions took a much different path than the extra inning win over the Spartans on Thursday. In this game, it was Oregon getting on the board first, as Vallery Wong hit a 2-run homer with 2 outs to give the Ducks the 2 - 0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. A scoreless 2nd inning brought Penn State up in the top of the third, where the Nittany Lions scored 3 unearned runs, aided by uncharacteristic Oregon errors and a two-out home run. Oregon failed to score in its half of the third, and Penn State added another run on another homer to go up 4 - 2. The Nittany Lion lead was to be short-lived, however, as Oregon’s bats came alive with a vengeance in the bottom of the 4th.
Ariel Carlson opened the inning with a solo homer. Paige Sinicki followed with a single and was sacrificed to 2nd on a Jasmine Williams bunt. Oregon regained the lead at 5 - 4 as Gabby Herrera hit the next pitch over the fence in right center. Hannah Galey walked and moved to second when Allee Bunker beat out a bunt to the pitcher. Hanna Delgado walked, loading the bases and then KK Humphreys singled and a subsequent throwing error allowed her to move to second, and for Bunker and Galey to score, giving Oregon a 7 - 4 lead. Oregon’s 2nd out of the inning, a deep flyball out from Wong scored Delgado, and moved Humphreys to third. Carlson then hit her 2nd home run of the inning, scoring 2 more Oregon runs, giving the Ducks 8 for the inning and making it 10 - 4. Sinicki was thrown out trying to stretch a Penn State error into a double and the inning was over.
Penn State managed to get a runner as far as third base in the top of the 5th but could not score. The Ducks ended the game in the bottom of the fifth on the run-rule (+8 after 5 innings) as Williams and Herrera led off the inning with walks. Williams scored on a Bunker sacrifice fly and Herrera on a Delgado single.
Stevie Hansen started in the circle for Oregon, going 3 innings and giving up all 4 Penn State runs. Makenna Kliethermes (5-2) pitched one inning, getting the win, and Jordan Dail came on for mop-up duty.
Oregon 9 vs. Connecticut 1 (Saturday) - Oregon’s march through the Carolina Classic continued on Saturday morning, as they faced the Connecticut Huskies. The Ducks were again the home team, and really jumped on Connecticut pitching early. Oregon scored 3 in the first on an Allee Bunker single, a Hanna Delgado double and a Vallery Wong home run. UConn got nothing in the top of the 2nd, despite leading off with two singles. Oregon plated 4 more runs in their half of the inning, blowing the game open. After Jasmine Williams fouled out to third base, Gabby Herrera singled to center and then stole second. Hannah Galey walked and after a strike out, Delgado was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two outs. KK Humphreys was the next batter, and she cleared the bases with a grand slam, giving Oregon a 7 - 0 lead. Wong flied out to end the inning.
Neither team could score in the third, but UConn managed to score a run on an Oregon wild pitch to close to 7 - 1 after the top of the 4th. Oregon scored again in the bottom of the inning as Bunker singled with one out and ended up on third base on a Delgado single and subsequent Huskie throwing error, which also put Delgado on second base. A UConn wild pitch then allowed Bunker to score and Delgado moved to third but was ultimately stranded there on a subsequent ground out.
A one-out triple from UConn in the top of the 5th also ended up stranded as Oregon’s defense stepped up. Oregon came up in the bottom of the 5th, needing a run to “run-rule” their second straight opponent. Wong obliged with her 2nd home run of the game, blasting the 8th pitch of the at-bat over the center field fence, and giving the Ducks a 9 - 1 win in 5 innings.
Makenna Kliethermes (6-2) went 3 innings, and again got the win for the Ducks. Reagan Breedlove came on for 2 innings of work, giving up only one hit.
Oregon 9 vs. North Carolina 1 (Saturday) - The Ducks faced the tournament host in the second game of the Saturday morning double-header playing at a high level. Oregon again got off to a fast start when Allee Bunker hit the fourth pitch of the game over the center field fence for a 1 - 0 Oregon lead. Vallery Wong followed 2 batters later with another solo homer to give the Ducks a 2 - 0 lead. The Tar Heels could not get anything going in the bottom of the first, and neither team generated any offense in the 2nd.
In the top of the 3rd, Oregon struck again, as Hannah Galey led off with a double to center. After a fly out, Hanna Delgado walked and KK Humphreys doubled to score Galey. Wong was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Ariel Carlson then walked, scoring Delgado from third. Humphreys scored on a wild pitch to make it 5 - 0 and Paige Sinicki reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Kedre Luschar, pinch running from third. A ground out ended Oregon’s half and UNC could not score in the bottom of the inning, leaving Oregon ahead 6 - 0 after 3.
The Ducks ended the game by run-rule again by scoring three more runs in the top of the 5th. Delgado led off with a single, advancing to 2nd base on a throwing error. Humphreys scored Delgado with a single, and subsequently stole 2nd. Wong sacrificed Humphreys to third, and she scored when Carlson hit a 2-1 pitch over the center field fence, giving Oregon a 9 - 1 lead. After a ground out, a single by Herrera and a strike out, Oregon went to the bottom of the 5th needed to hold the Tar Heels scoreless to win their third straight game by run-rule. Two strike-outs and a pop-up to left field obliged and the Ducks had the win.
Jordan Dail (6-1) went the distance and got the win for the Ducks, striking out 6 in her 5 innings of work.
Oregon 9 vs. Connecticut 3 (Sunday) - In the final game of its North Carolina trip, the Ducks again got off to a good start offensively. Batting in the top of the first, Allee Bunker led off with a double to center field and moved to third on a single from Hanna Delgado, who then stole second. KK Humphreys reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Vallery Wong also hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Bunker from third as UConn forced Delgado out at third. Though Ariel Carlson reached on another fielder’s choice as Humphreys was tagged out, Oregon’s third out came on a liner to third leaving the Ducks with a 1 - 0 lead.
UConn could not score in the bottom of the first, nor Oregon in the top of the 2nd despite a couple of Duck hits. The Huskies got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd tying the game on a lead-off homer, but then going down in order.
Oregon struck again in the top of the third as Wong led off with a single. Pinch running for Wong, Kedre Luschar stole 2nd. After a strikeout, Paige Sinicki reached first on a bunt, moving Luschar to third, then stole 2nd. With runners at 2nd and 3rd, a pop-up gave Oregon two outs. Jasmine Williams came on as a pinch-hitter and doubled to left center, scoring Luschar and Sinicki. A subsequent strikeout ended Oregon’s half inning. UConn scored a run in the bottom of the third and Oregon led 3 - 2 after three.
Oregon added a run on a Humphreys homer in the top of the 4th and another on a Gabby Herrera solo shot in the top of the 5th, while holding UConn scoreless, to go up 5 - 2. Oregon scored another run in the 6th on a Bunker homer, but gave up a matching homer to UConn in the bottom of the 6th to make it 6 - 3.
In the top of the 7th, Oregon looked to be stopped offensively, following a pop fly and a ground out. But a dropped third strike allowed Herrera to reach first base, and when Rachel Cid followed with a double, Herrera scored from first to give Oregon a 7 - 3 lead. Hannah Galey then singled, moving Cid to third, and Bunker’s single scored Cid for an 8 - 3 Oregon lead. Bunker stole second, then Delgado was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Humphreys then walked, scoring Galey from third to provide Oregon with its final run and a 9 - 3 lead. UConn could get nothing going in the bottom of the 7th, with 2 strikeouts and a harmless fly ball to left field.
Ali Benning started and went 3 innings for Oregon, with Stevie Hansen (3-0) coming on for 4 innings of relief and earning the win.
Oregon went undefeated in North Carolina, outscoring opponents 51 - 13. The Ducks showed a lot more power than it had earlier in the year, reaching double digits on home runs - including a grand slam - over the 5 games.
The Ducks next co-host the Oregon/Oregon State tournament in Eugene starting Friday, March 11. Portland State and North Dakota State round out the field.