SALT LAKE CITY – The Oregon softball team held off a furious Utah rally and the No. 3 ranked Ducks defeated the Utes, 8-7, on Friday in their Pac-12 opener at Utah Softball Stadium.
The Ducks (24-3, 1-0 Pac-12) scored eight runs on 12 hits with two errors while the Utes (11-10, 1-2) posted seven runs on 12 hits with no errors.
Oregon held a 8-2 edge heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Utes, who were christening their new stadium on Friday against the Ducks, scored five runs in the seventh but couldn’t get a sixth to tie the game.
Oregon jumped out to a 5-0 lead with three runs in the first and two runs in the second and carried an 8-2 lead into the seventh.
Jasmine Smithson-Willett, who came on to pitch for starter Cheridan Hawkins in the sixth, allowed two hits in the sixth but got out of the inning unscathed before entering the seventh.
Smithson-Willett gave up a walk, a single, a double and another single in the seventh before the Ducks brought on Karissa Hovinga. Hovinga proceeded to allow back-to-back singles, which scored three runs, and head coach Mike White brought Hawkins back on to close out the game.
After Hawkins entered, an error scored another run for the Utes, but the sophomore lefty struck out the final two batters swinging to end the game.
Hawkins (14-2) picked up the win after allowing two runs on five hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Smithson-Willett allowed four runs on five hits in one inning and Hovinga gave up one run (unearned) on two hits without recording an out.
Alexa Peterson led the Ducks with four RBIs on a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. The Ducks hit three triple against the Utes – one by Peterson, one by Alyssa Gillespie and one by Karine Shaver. Shaver also homered.
Kailee Cuico, Shaver and freshman Nikki Udria also drove in one run each.
The Ducks and Utah meet again tomorrow in the second game of the three game set.