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Oregon Softball 2024 Preview

Are the Ducks primed for another deep postseason run?

ATQ-EXCLUSIVE Softball Morgan L. Blackwell

Last season, Oregon softball reached the Oklahoma State Super Regional, and even though they lost in the opening round it was a tremendous improvement over the 2022 season. It was made possible in part due to the addition of pitcher Morgan Scott following the pitcher exodus at the end of the 2022 season. Scott added a second ace pitcher to go along with Stevie Hansen; a vital piece to 2023 that was missing in 2022.

That Super Regional brought to a close the Oregon careers of catchers Terra McGowan and Karissa Ornelas, infielder Katelyn Howard, and outfielder Kyla Morris.

What all this means is that Oregon softball is returning a considerable amount of their players from the 2023 roster to make another deep postseason run in 2024.

In November, the Ducks signed seven new players to form the #16 recruiting class in the nation.

KayLynn Jones is an infielder from Texas, having played club ball with Athletics Mercado. She started playing softball in Japan at age nine and has played softball at the highest club level in Japan.

Elyse Kresho hails from Georgia and is the No. 11 overall outfielder nationally. Kresho is a two-time all-state first team selection and was named the region’s player and pitcher of the year.

Emma Cox was a three-sport star for Flatirons Academy in Colorado. Coach Lombardi had this to say about Cox: “Emma grew up around the game of softball with both parents playing and coaching...she’s outstanding behind the plate and can change the momentum of an inning with her ability to throw out runners.”

Presley Lawton is an in-state recruit out of Medford. She was a two-time first team all-conference catcher out of North Medford HS.

Stefini Ma’ake is a San Diego product that led the San Diego region in home runs, RBI and batting average. She can pitch and also has power in her swing with her ability hit hit the ball out of the park.

Rylee McCoy was the No. 2 player nationally at first base and 15th overall according to Extra Inning Softball. Coach Lombardi had this to say about McCoy: “Rylee is already playing at a high level that will allow her adapt quickly to the college game. She has a big, power bat and I’m impressed with her ability to play the corners.”

Rowan Thompson is another Oregon player from Salem, who was an all-state pitcher in 2023. She was the No. 6 prospect in the state of Oregon according to Softball Northwest.

Oregon also has added some pieces from the transfer portal:

The Ducks brought in catcher/utility player Trinity Holden from Portland State. Holden was a freshman at Portland State and has another three years of eligibility.

Oregon brings in veteran leadership with catcher Emma Kauf from Georgia Tech. Kauf is a 5th year senior who was a three-time all-ACC selection at catcher for the Yellow Jackets. She has a career batting average of .344, and last season hit .354 in 51 games.

Oregon softball is ranked #15 in the preseason coaches poll and 5th in the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll, which tells you just how loaded the Pac-12 is in its final softball season.

The Ducks start the season this weekend, and play most of February in warmer climes, beginning with the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, FL. There they will be playing Indiana, Kansas, Liberty, Missouri State, and Army, but the game to circle is Saturday’s match against #5 Clemson.

After that, Oregon travels to San Diego for the Campbell/Cartier Classic. In the third weekend of February, the Ducks stay in California for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic before coming to Eugene at the end of February for the Jane Sanders Classic. After that, Oregon dives in to Pac-12 play.

ATQ-EXCLUSIVE Softball Morgan L. Blackwell

Oregon returns the majority of their offensive and defensive firepower from last season, and we should expect to see similar results. A possible question mark going into 2024 is pitching. Fortunately, Stevie Hansen and Morgan Scott return to the circle as starters; also, Raegan Breedlove and Elise Sokolshy return as well.

As followers of Oregon softball know, after Hansen and Scott there was considerable dropoff in the pitching ranks. How Breedlove and Sokolsky show improvement will be something to keep an eye on this season.

There is another Ducks pitcher that is a new face to us:

Taylour Spencer is a RHP from Murietta, CA., and was named a first team all-league pitcher and was the strikeout leader for Vista Murrieta High School.

In order for the Ducks to have a deeper run into the Super Regionals this season, they will need that third pitcher to back up Hansen and Scott, and we’ll see if one of these three can take on that role.