Elish, Ducks Run-Rule Badgers

For the eighth straight year the Oregon Ducks advanced to the NCAA Women’s College World Series super regional round with a 9-0 five inning run-rule win over Wisconsin Sunday afternoon at Jane Sanders Stadium.

Miranda Elish was doubly dangerous for the Ducks, holding the Badgers to one hit, striking out two and walking three in the circle and banged out a pair of base hits and two RBI at the plate.

Unlike the eight inning thriller the two teams played in Saturday’s first meeting, the Ducks jumped on the Badgers with a four run first after Elish blanked the visitors in the top half of the frame, fanning Sara Novaks looking with a wicked change-up to retire the side. After connecting for a big home run in the opener, Novaks was held hitless in two at bats.

A lead-off walk to Danica Mercado, a sacrifice bunt and a Gwen Svekis single put runners on the corners for Nikki Udria. Her bouncer to second scored Mercado but forced Svekis at second. Back to back walks loaded the bases for Elish and she wasted no time staking herself to a three run lead with a single to deep short, driving home two runs. Lauren Lindvall’s single plated another.

The Badgers’ only base hit came in the third – a one-out roller through the middle. After a three-up, three down fourth, the Ducks offense went back to work, again with Elish right in the middle of the fracas, leading off the frame with a single and advancing to second on a wild pitch.

Following Lindvall’s second base hit of the day, Jenna Lilley laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases for Mercado. Her double to right field started the Ducks parade across the plate and by the time Elish struck out to retire the side, Oregon led 9-0 and Elish was three outs from her 10th win of the season.

A lead off walk and a stolen base ended up harmless when Udria snared a one-out line drive and doubled off the runner at second to send the Ducks into a super regional date with Kentucky.

“A lot less suspenseful,” said Oregon head coach Mike White. “We took the fun out of it (for Wisconsin) early … that was pretty good.”

After handcuffing the Ducks until their two-out rally in Saturday’s game, Wisconsin pitcher Kaitlin Menz wasn’t nearly the mystery for Oregon’s hitters. The Ducks banged out nine hits and capitalized with runners on base with four Ducks each posting a pair of RBI.

With their season record now at 50-6, the Ducks will host 14th-ranked Kentucky (39-17). Oregon beat the Wildcats 5-4 in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at Cathedral City, California in the season’s second weekend.

Games will be played on Friday, Saturday and if necessary Sunday – a change from the format in previous years where a double header would be played on day two if the third game was needed.

“They are both much different teams,” White said of the rematch. Kentucky finished the SEC conference race at 12-12, tied for sixth in the standings.

Broadcast details and game start times have yet to be announced.

~ Rick Morgan