EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 3 ranked Oregon softball team keep the good vibes going from last weekend's sweep of Washington with a pair of victories in a doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday afternoon at Howe Field.
The Ducks (32-4) walked off in the first game with a 2-1 win in eight innings and used a Kailee Cuico grand slam (highlight video below) to take the second game, 10-4.
In the first game, Oregon's offense was slow to come to life. Koral Costa ripped a solo homer in the fifth inning to tie the game up, 1-1, but it took extra innings to determine a winner.
In the eighth, with Courtney Ceo at second due to the international tiebreaker rule, Alyssa Gillespie started the inning with a bunt single to move Ceo to third. UCSB pitcher Shelby Wisdom, who had allowed just one unearned run on seven hits prior, then faced the bases loaded as an error allowed Janie Takeda to reach as well.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Alexa Peterson singled up the middle to score Ceo and give the Ducks their second straight walk-off win, after Cuico did it with a two-run homer against the Huskies on Sunday.
Starting pitcher Karissa Hovinga settled in nicely after giving up a first inning run to the Gauchos and ended up allowing just the one run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
Cheridan Hawkins (19-2) picked up the win in relief, throwing 1 2/3 perfect frames with four strikeouts.
In the second game, Oregon's bats wasted little time in getting going.
“We weren’t too happy with how game one went and we wanted to make a change," said Cheridan Hawkins. "I think our hitters really did a good job at not being satisfied with game one.”
Ceo scored on a throwing error before Cuico hit a RBI single to score Takeda in the first inning.
With a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second, the Ducks broke the game wide open with a seven run frame.
After two walks and a single by Karine Shaver loaded the bases, Ceo singled to drive in a run and kept the bases juiced. The Ducks then drew two straight bases loaded walks to score two more runs and bring Cuico to the plate.
Cuico drove a 3-1 pitch to deep center for her eighth home run of the season, which extended her UO career record to 41 bombs. The senior is also now just one RBI away from matching Samantha Pappas' UO career record.
"I’m just getting really comfortable and taking it pitch by pitch," said Cuico about her approach at the plate. "I’m not thinking too much, I’m just trusting my coaching and my abilities. I don’t really think. I just trust.”
Jasmine Smithson-Willett (4-1) tossed a complete game against the Gauchos in the second tilt, allowing four runs on six hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks.
“Really good job by Jasmine," said head coach Mike White. "We still want to work on her change up and change her speeds. It wasn’t quite there yet but she did a good job of bouncing back.”
Up next for the Ducks is a marquee three-game Pac-12 series with No. 1 ranked UCLA, starting at 3 p.m. on Friday at Howe Field.
“We’ve always played pretty well against UCLA," White added. "We play the same kind of softball as they do. We both have good pitching so it should be a very exciting weekend.”