The No. 1 seeded Ducks advanced to the Super Regional with a 3-0 win over Drake in front of a packed Jane Sanders Stadium Saturday night. Oregon makes its ninth straight appearance in a Super Regional and will face the winner of the Lexington Regional next weekend in Eugene.
Oregon shut out three straight opponents this weekend with Miranda Elish tossing two of the shutouts. She defeated Albany on Thursday 4-0.
Drake came into Saturday’s match-up by stunning BYU 3-2 Friday night, but facing the Ducks in Eugene on their home field, where they are 21-1 this season, is a completely different story. Even with their ace, Nicole Newman and her 0.89 earned run average, defeating Oregon twice in the same night would have been tough.
To her credit, Newman kept the Ducks off the scoreboard for the first four innings, but in the fifth, Oregon managed to break through.
Three singles loaded the bases for slap hitter Alexis Mack. When Drake brought the infield in, Mack’s eye lit up like a Christmas tree and she looped a single into left field to score Cherish Burk and Mia Camuso to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead. Haley Cruse singled home Jenna Lilley later in the inning to tack one another run.
That would be more than enough for Elish.
The sophomore went the distance, giving up five hits while striking out 11 and walking two. It was a dominating performance by Elish, but Drake did manage to get runners into scoring position several times.
When the Bulldogs came close to scoring, Elish buckled down each time to hold Drake off the board. The closest they came to scoring a run was in the fifth. Drake had a runner on third with just one out, but Elish whiffed the next two hitters to end the threat.
Elish was named the MVP of the Eugene Regional with teammates Megan Kleist (pitcher), Jenna Lilley (3rd Base), Alexis Mack (OF), and Lauren Burke (OF) joining her on the All-Region Team.
Should Oregon face the 16-seeded Kentucky next week, it will be a rematch from last year’s Super Regional where the Ducks swept the Wildcats two straight to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
Oregon is hoping history repeats itself in the next round.
~ Don Smalley