With the exodus of several pitchers at the end of the 2022 season, it was imperative that coach Melyssa Lombardi find a pitcher or pitchers that could take off the excessive pitching load that Stevie Hansen was forced to endure last year. That was a huge number of pitches for any pitcher to have to throw, and it doesn’t matter how talented one is at the circle; you’re going to falter at some point, and just have to suck it up because there is no one to relieve you. There were many stages in last year where the Ducks had to relieve Hansen, and there were no pitchers consistently up to the task.
Scotty came from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, had a reputation for throwing strikes, and was a two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year. The background looked good, but how would Scott perform in an elite softball conference like the Pac-12?
The Ducks very much relied on Hansen during the non-conference end of the schedule. Of the 21 non-conference games thus far, Scott has played in only nine. There were hints, however, of what was to come in conference play. Scotty’s first win of this season was against then #25 Ole Miss, where she pitched six innings. In this first win, we see typical Scotty statistics, as she has a tendency to throw strikes and not walk very often. In this game, Scotty struck out 5 and walked one runner.
Scotty’s first save was on February 18, holding on to a closely contested 6-4 win against San Diego State. Her next save came against then #24 Missouri.
These saves were - and are - important. Last season, the Ducks did not have a reliable backup pitcher. This season, the combination of Hansen and Scotty available as relief pitchers gives Oregon a measure of depth that they did not enjoy last season.
Ah, but fairer winds were on the horizon. The last game of the Judi Garman Classic featured Morgan Scott pitching her first complete game shutout in the second match of that day’s double header.
All of this is to say that it’s not as if there were no whispers in the wind regarding the kind of performances we’ve seen from Scotty in Pac-12 play thus far.
And we’ve seen some impressive pitching against three top-10 Pac-12 teams in the first three series that Oregon has played. I don’t think any team in the country has played as brutal a slate of opening conference games as the Ducks, with Oregon matching against #10 Washington, #7 Stanford, and #3 UCLA.
The first game against the Huskies was Oregon’s lone victory of the series. The Ducks rallied in the seventh inning to take the lead, and Scotty protected that lead with yet another save.
Scotty was also integral to Oregon’s only win of the next weekend’s series against the Stanford Cardinal. This second match was a tight, 2-1 victory, where Scotty pitched solo for all seven innings for the win.
Scotty pitched magnificently, with four strikeouts on one walk and one run.
Morgan Scott was going to pitch even more impressively in the following weekend against the best team in the conference, and one of the best teams in the nation - UCLA. Scotty not only pitched a shutout against the #3 team in the nation, she handed UCLA’s Megan Fairaimo a rare loss.
.@Morgan_Scotty11 is DEALIN'— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) March 25, 2023
Fourth K of the night to set the Bruins down in order. That's 6⃣ scoreless innings for the senior.
M6 | ORE 3, UCLA 0
https://t.co/sTbmPjqDhQ#GoDucks | #Version5 pic.twitter.com/q7445iUj7N
Scotty’s stats on the day: 4 SOs, 1 BB, and 2 hits in a shutout performance against the Bruins.
In this very difficult opening of conference play, Morgan Scott has her fingerprints all over each of Oregon’s wins of these series. The Ducks get swept without Scotty.
Stevie Hansen is not to be discounted in this conversation. Hansen is the ace of this Ducks team, and her statistics bear that out in most categories. An interesting category where Scotty rules is in walks. Scotty does not walk batters very often. In the 55.66 innings that Scotty has pitched, she has walked only 8 batters (.14 per inning). Hansen, by comparison, has walked 19 batters in 86.66 innings (.22 per inning).
Is Morgan Scott the ace of these Oregon Ducks? No, that is still Stevie Hansen. Is Scotty the new ace of the Ducks? Absolutely. Oregon will not win and get to post-season play without the pitching of Morgan Scott.