It is the new normal that the end of the college sports season sends players rushing to the transfer portal. It is a dynamic that coaches, players, and fans alike are adjusting to. The end of the Oregon Ducks softball season has been no exception.
Oregon’s season ended in Arkansas on May 22nd, and immediately the transfer portal door began spinning. On May 23rd, fourth-year sophomore Jasmine Williams announced the end of her Oregon career. Junior Makenna Kliethermes and fifth year pitcher Jordan Dail also announced their intention to play elsewhere. Then on May 27th, starting third baseman Rachel Cid announced her departure. Reserve sophomore outfielder Gabby Herrera also entered the portal the same day.
On June 14th, pitcher Brooke Yanez entered the transfer portal. Yanez was the Ducks ace in 2021 but reshirted this season as she recovered from a season-ending shoulder injury.
Some of these transfers come on the heels of graduating, and would not be entirely unexpected. The elephant in the room here is the loss of three pitchers, one of whom was anticipated to shore up a pitching staff in serious need of help (Yanez).
Jordan Dail’s departure is not unexpected. She was not used much after the first half of conference play, during which Oregon leaned on the arm of Stevie Hansen. In spite of ending her season on a solid note in the last two weekends of the regular season, Kliethermes was not consistent and Oregon looked to freshman Hansen as their principal starter. Still, the loss of Dail and Kliethermes - while unfortunate - wasn’t going to seriously impact the Ducks going into 2023 because they were looking to have Yanez back in the circle.
Apparently, that may not be the case.
Yanez’s transfer is curious. At the beginning of the season, when she announced that she would be out for the season with a (shoulder) injury, she stated her intention to return in 2023. At this point, any consideration of where she’s at and why is purely speculative. We don’t know the nature of her injury or how well she has recovered from it. Is it on the throwing arm? Is she still recovering? Would she be coming back next season in 2021 form? We really don’t know.
Another possibility - again, speculation - is that Yanez is shopping around to other teams and if she doesn’t get the bite she’s after then she returns to the Ducks in 2023. It’s impossible to know one way or the other.
What isn’t speculation is that a Ducks pitching staff that struggled often in 2022 is in dire straits now, having lost half their pitchers. Coach Lombardi has an enormous task in front of her, as she attempts to progress forward in her fifth season instead of regressing for lack of quality pitching.
As we head into the fall and winter seasons later this year, ATQ will be keeping an eye on softball roster developments and see how Lombardi responds to this enormous challenge.