Coming into its Regional opener against Oregon, Wichita State’s reputation was as a hard-hitting club that could put up a ton of runs. While this has certainly been the case, it was Oregon’s bats making the loudest noise in Fayetteville this evening, as the Ducks run-ruled the Shockers 10 - 2 in 5 innings.
Stevie Hansen started in the circle for Oregon and hit the first batter she faced. Wichita State was willing to help her work out any nervousness, though, as the runner on first was called out for leaving the base early and Hansen promptly struck out the next two she faced. Oregon got a single from Hanna Delgado, but weren’t able to follow it up and there was no score after 1 inning.
The Shockers drew a walk in the 2nd but that was all as Hansen got a pop foul to first, a fly out to the center and a line out to short. Oregon forged a two-out rally in the bottom of the 2nd. KK Humphreys, the third batter, walked and Jasmine Williams hit an 0-2 pitch to short that both Oregon runners managed to beat out. Paige Sinicki followed with Oregon’s first long distance blast of the game, crushing a ball over the center field fence. A groundout ended the Oregon inning, but the Ducks now had a 3 - 0 lead.
Wichita State got right back in the game in the top of the 3rd. Hansen got the first batter to strike out, but that was followed by a double - Wichita State’s first hit. After a foul out, the Shockers showed they can play the long ball with a two-run shot that closed the game to 3 - 2. The next batter knocked a triple to left, and that was it for Hansen. Makenna Kliethermes came on in relief for Hansen and got the third out on just 2 pitches. Oregon scored again in the bottom of the inning as Delgado reached on an error and Allee Bunker singled to left. Ariel Carlson reached on a fielder’s choice attempt that was unsuccessful, loading the bases for the Ducks with no outs. A fly out postponed things but Vallery Wong followed and hit a groundout to 2nd base that scored Delgado from third to give Oregon a 4 - 2 lead. What could have been a monster inning ended on a groundout.
Kliethermes gave up a first batter single to the Shockers in the 4th, but the runner was erased immediately on a 5-4-3 double play and the next batter grounded out. Oregon’s offensive pressure finally broke Wichita State in the bottom of the inning. Williams opened the inning with a single and advanced to second on an interference call. Sinicki then reached and went to second on an errant throw. While all this was going on, Williams just kept running, scoring on the play to give Oregon a 5 - 2 lead. Wichita State made a pitching change, but it didn’t help much. After a flyout, Delgado singled again and went to second on an unsuccessful attempt by the Shockers to get Sinicki at third. The next batter popped up and it looked like another golden opportunity for Oregon might go begging. Carlson put those fears to rest with a 3-run shot over the left field fence and Oregon led 8 - 2. The long-ball parade continued when Rachel Cid hit a solo shot, also to left field, to put Oregon up 9 - 2. The next 3 Oregon batters walked to load the bases, but the Ducks couldn’t take advantage as the inning ended on a pop up to 2nd base.
The fifth inning was more quality from Kliethermes. In a position to trade baserunners, or even runs, for outs, Kliethermes accepted that bargain. After a groundout, the next batter reached on a single and got into scoring position on a wild pitch. The next batter got on base with a hit to short that did not allow the runner on second to advance. Kliethermes than got a strikeout and gave up a walk to load the bases. Oregon got out of trouble with a force out at third.
Under NCAA softball rules, a team leading by 8 or more runs after 5 full innings of play is declared the winner by “run-rule.” Oregon came to bat in the bottom of the 5th needing just one run to meet that standard. It took one batter - Terra McGowan - to end the contest, crushing a 1 - 1 pitch to left center to put Oregon up 10 - 2.
Makenna Kliethermes (10-5) got the win for the Ducks, pitching 2.1 innings, giving up no runs on just 3 hits and striking out 1 and walking 1. Oregon blasted 4 home runs for the game and no Oregon batter struck out.
The Ducks will now face #4 seed Arkansas, who run-ruled Princeton 11 - 0 in 5 innings earlier today. That game is scheduled for 11:00 am on Saturday. Join adamh86 right here on ATQ for the game thread and root on your Ducks!