Stevie Hansen scattered 8 Arkansas hits and Oregon’s bats poured it on as the Ducks blasted host #11 Seed Arkansas 14 - 4 to advance to the NCAA Super-Regionals. Hansen survived a couple of rough innings, including Arkansas’ 3-run third inning that tied the game, but Coach Melyssa Lombardi stuck with the Sophomore. Hansen rewarded the trust with a complete-game victory, her second of the Regional after Friday night’s win over Notre Dame.
But there aren’t many teams that could have kept up with Oregon’s batting today regardless of the pitching. The Ducks book-ended the game, scoring 4 in the first and 9 in an incredible 5th inning. Softball allows for a “mercy rule” if a team is up by 8 or more runs after 5 innings. The Ducks led just 5 - 4 going into their at-bat in the bottom of the fifth, but then exploded, forcing the Razorbacks to use 3 different pitchers in the inning, none of whom could slow the onslaught. Ariel Carlson put an exclamation point on this sterling Oregon offensive performance with a walk-off grand slam - her second home run of the inning.
Hansen had a bit of a shaky start, giving up singles to the first two batters she faced, giving Arkansas runners on first and third. Hansen got a fly out, but it was plenty deep enough to score the runner from third. Hansen then issued two walks sandwiched around a groundout to load the bases, but then got a flyout to center to get out of the jam. Trailing 1 - 0, the Ducks got rolling in their half of the first. Kai Luschar had a lead-off walk and after a flyout stole second. Terra McGowan walked and then Ariel Carlson roped a single to left that scored Luschar to tie the game and McGowan to second. KK Humphreys was up next, and crushed the 6th pitch she saw over the center field fence to clear the bases. Two groundouts ended the inning, but Oregon now led 4 - 1.
OK KK!!!— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) May 21, 2023
After @_ariel_carlson ties things up with an RBI single, @_kaykayy13 goes yard for a 3-run home run!
E1 | Ducks 4, Arkansas 1
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Neither team could score in the second inning, and Arkansas got to Hansen again in the top of the third. The Razorbacks got a one-out single, then Hansen hit a batter and gave up a 3-run homer. Arkansas generated one more hit, but two fly outs ended the Razorback at-bat with the game now tied 4-all. Oregon got off to a great start in the bottom of the third as Allee Bunker and McGowan had back-to-back singles, but a Carlson rocket went right to the Arkansas second baseman who then caught McGowan off first for the double play. A pop-up ended the threat.
The Razorbacks could generate nothing but a lead-off single followed by 3 flyouts in the top of the fourth, and Oregon would retake the lead in their half of the inning.
A walk to Ashley Daniell and an infield single by Hanna Delgado finally chased Arkansas starter Chenise Delce. Tehya Bird then sacrificed the runners up a base and after another well-hit line-out, Kai Luschar delivered a single through the left side to plate Daniell for the 5 - 4 Oregon lead.
Arkansas again couldn’t get much going in the top of the 5th, aside from a bloop single to right (their 3rd mis-hit of the game that somehow found grass instead of glove) and Hansen ended the inning with her first strikeout of the game. The Ducks came to bat in their half of the 5th and the avalanche began. McGowan singled and Carlson homered, giving Oregon a 7 - 4 lead.
NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! @_ariel_carlson's 6th hit of the Regional is a 2-run shot over the berm in left field.— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) May 21, 2023
B5 | Ducks 7, Arkansas 4
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Arkansas made a pitching change, which did little good. Humphreys singled and Kyla Morris was called out when her bunt attempt supposedly hit her in the field of play. With one out, Delgado singled moving Humphreys to second. Bird walked to load the bases and the Razorbacks tried another pitching change which had even less success. Paige Sinicki doubled down the line in left, scoring Humphreys and Delgado for a 9 - 4 Oregon lead. After a pop-up for the second out, Bunker walked to load the bases again. McGowan reached on an infield single, scoring Bird from third for the 10 - 4 lead and leaving the bases loaded. Carlson then stroked her second home run of the inning (against two different pitchers), crushing the walk-off blast way over the left-field fence to provide the Ducks with the 14 - 4 final by mercy rule.
Oregon Softball is moving onto the Super Regionals after closing out the game with a grand slam pic.twitter.com/UmWRIb8u82— ESPN (@espn) May 21, 2023
Hansen (20 - 6) went the distance for Oregon, throwing an even 100 pitches and giving up the 8 hits and 4 runs, while walking 2 and striking out just one. She also hit a batter. Carlson was 3 - 4 with 7 (yep, 7) RBIs - she didn’t leave anyone on base. McGowan was 3 - 3 with 3 runs scored a walk and an RBI. Humphreys was 2 - 3 with 3 RBI and Sinicki was 1 - 2 with 2 RBI. Delgado was 2 - 3. The Ducks pounded out 13 hits, drew 5 walks and had just one strikeout. In its two wins over Arkansas, Oregon outscored the Razorbacks 24 - 8.
The Ducks now advance to their first Super-Regional since 2018, and first under Head Coach Melyssa Lombardi. Oregon will head to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma State on Thursday at 6:00 pm Pacific next week in the best-of-3 series for a spot in the College Softball World Series.