EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 1 ranked Oregon softball team will play host to No. 3 ranked Arizona State for a three-game Pac-12 series starting on Friday at Howe Field.
The Ducks and Sun Devils will start the series at 5 p.m. on Friday before playing at 4 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Pac-12 Networks will air Friday's game and Sunday's game with a free live web stream available for Saturday's game.
Sunday's game will also be senior day, with the Ducks honoring their three outstanding seniors - Courtney Ceo, Kailee Cuico and Alexa Peterson.
#1 OREGON DUCKS (46-5, 17-1 Pac-12, First)
Team BA: .347 | Team ERA: 1.74 | Runs Scored: 353 | Runs Allowed: 114
Recently: Oregon swept Stanford on the road, beat Utah Valley twice in a DH Tuesday
National Rankings: No. 1 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls (unanimous)
All-Times Series Record: Arizona State leads, 54-33 (Ducks have won 3 of last 10)
Last Meeting: No. 2 Oregon beat No. 5 Arizona State, 4-2, in Tempe (May 11, 2013)
Notable: Oregon is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the fourth straight week and is the unanimous No. 1 team in both polls for the third straight time. The Ducks have swept three straight Pac-12 teams entering this weekend against Arizona State and five Pac-12 teams overall this year. Oregon’s lone conference loss was to then No. 1-ranked UCLA on April 6. Of Oregon’s five losses, two came to then-No. 1 ranked teams, also falling to Florida on Feb. 28 in Orlando. Already playing at a high level, Oregon turned it on in Pac-12 play this year. In conference games, Oregon leads the league in batting average, on-base pct., runs scored, triples and fielding pct.
#3 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (42-7, 13-4 Pac-12, Third)
Team BA: .341 | Team ERA: 1.64 | Runs Scored: 326 | Runs Allowed: 91
Recently: Arizona State swept a non-conference home series with Southern Mississippi
National Rankings: No. 3 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls
Head Coach: Craig Nicholson (First Season)
Notable: ASU’s Craig Nicholson is in his first season as head coach after taking over for Clint Myers, who left for Auburn after eight seasons at ASU. The Ducks shutout then-No. 25 ranked Auburn, 3-0, on Feb. 28 this year at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla. Since dropping 2-of-3 to Oregon State to start conference play, Arizona State has lost just two games over the last five Pac-12 series since. In a non-conference series last weekend, ASU shutout Southern Mississippi in all three games - 8-0, 7-0 and 5-0. Amber Freeman ranks fourth in the conference, hitting .435. Dallas Escobedo has struck out 273 batters, most in the Pac-12.
PAC-12 TITLE RACE
Entering its second-to-last series of Pac-12 play, Oregon currently sits in first place with UCLA in second and Arizona State in third. The Ducks have a two-game lead on UCLA and also hold the tiebreaker, while Oregon has a three-game lead in the loss column on Arizona State. If the Ducks sweep ASU this weekend and UCLA loses once to Stanford, Oregon will win its second ever and second straight Pac-12 championship.
OREGON HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT
Oregon is the unanimous No. 1 ranked team in the nation in both top-25 polls for the third straight week and has the top spot for the fourth straight time. After sweeping Oregon State on the road (April 12-14), the Ducks claimed every first place vote in both the USA Softball and NFCA top-25 polls. Before this season, Oregon’s best ranking was No. 2 near the end of the regular season last year. The Ducks climbed to No. 2 this year on three occasions before jumping to No. 1. The Ducks started the season ranked No. 8 in both polls. Under head coach Mike White, the Ducks have been ranked for 72 straight weeks in the USA Softball poll and 65 weeks in a row in the NFCA poll.
Oregon swept its fifth Pac-12 team of the season, outscoring Stanford 21-3 over the three-game set. Oregon went on the road to beat the Cardinal, 7-0, in game one, 7-1, in game two and 7-3 in game three. The Ducks’ pitching staff shined in the series, posting a 1.00 combined ERA plus 21 strikeouts in 21 innings. Cheridan Hawkins allowed just two runs in 14 innings, picking up two wins. LF Janie Takeda hit .545 over the three-game series, with a team-high six hits and four runs. 1B Kailee Cuico homered and drove in four runs in the series. C Janelle Lindvall and 3B Courtney Ceo each hit .375 in the series but both also drew four walks each to match Takeda with a .582 on-base percentage against the Cardinal.
HAWKINS VS. ESCOBEDO
This weekend’s series with Arizona State will pit Oregon ace Cheridan Hawkins against ASU ace Dallas Escobedo. The pair are 1-and-2 in the league in strikeouts. Escobedo leads the league with 273 strikeouts while Hawkins is second with 251. Hawkins’ 1.35 ERA and .157 opposing batting average are also the second best in the league, while Escobedo ranks fifth in the league with a 1.65 ERA and third with a .167 opposing batting average.
AGAINST ARIZONA STATE LAST YEAR
Oregon dropped just one Pac-12 series last year, and that was to Arizona State on the final weekend of the regular season. The Ducks, who had already clinched the Pac-12 title the weekend before against rival Oregon State, dropped the first game of the ASU series, 3-2, and lost the second game, 5-3. Oregon rebounded to win the final game, 4-2, and prevent the sweep. Oregon hit just .234 in the series. ASU was actually worse, hitting only .225, but the Sun Devils drew 10 walks in the series while the Ducks only took four free passes. RF/C Alexa Peterson and LF Janie Takeda led the Ducks with four hits each against ASU and both also homered once. CF Koral Costa also hit a homer for the Ducks. 1B Kailee Cuio and C Janelle Lindvall each hit .125 in the series.
RECORD SETTING OFFENSE
Oregon’s production at the plate this year could rank as the best in school history. If the season ended today, Oregon’s .347 batting average and .539 slugging percentage would smash the single-season program records of .329 and .526, both set last season. In fact, Oregon has produced a .300+ average just three times in program history, all coming since 2007.
RECORD SETTING DEFENSE
While the Ducks are getting it done at the plate, they are also performing at a high level in the field. Oregon’s .972 fielding percentage is currently the second best in single-season school history and very close to the program record of .974, set in 2007. Oregon has made 39 errors this year in 51 games, with opponents making 66. Oregon has a .978 fielding percentage in league games, the best in the Pac-12.
HITTING + PITCHING + FIELDING = WINNING
As a team, the Ducks are hitting .347 this season, good for fifth best in the nation, while their 1.74 team ERA is the 13th best in the NCAA. Oregon’s .972 fielding percentage ranks 19th out of 350 teams. With hitting, pitching and defense all ranked in the top-25 individually, Oregon’s 46 wins are the second most in the nation (Florida State - 47).
THE LONG BALL
Oregon has hit at least one home run in 14 of its 18 Pac-12 games this year. The Ducks, who have blasted 23 homers in 18 league games this year, missed out on a long ball in the third game against UCLA, the third game against Cal and the first and third games at Stanford.
GRAND SLAM POWER
Oregon has hit eight grand slams this year, with six coming in Pac-12 play. Of her team-high 12 home runs, 1B Kailee Cuico has three grand slams. Freshman 2B Sammie Puentes’ second career home run was a grand slam against Cal to cap Oregon’s big 15-run fourth inning in the second game of the series on April 18.
HISTORIC 15-RUN INNING
Oregon scored all 15 of its runs in a 15-3 win over Cal on April 18 in the fourth inning. The 15 runs scored is the most in school history, third most in Pac-12 history and the 10th most in NCAA history. The NCAA record is an amazing 29 runs scored by the College of Charleston in the second inning against Savannah State in 2004. The most ever in the Pac-12 is 17 runs by Arizona against Bowling Green in 2001 and second is 16 by Oregon State against BYU in 2012. Oregon’s 15 runs against Cal is the most ever in a game between two Pac-12 teams.
Oregon scored 15-or-more runs in a game just once in 4-plus seasons under head coach Mike White before doing it twice in one week. The Ducks scored 11 runs in the first inning and exploded for 18 total runs in the third game of the Oregon State series on April 14 and posted 15 runs, all coming in the fourth inning, against Cal in the second game of the set on April 18. Overall, the Ducks have scored 15+ runs 12 times in program history and four times now since 2000. The Ducks had previous scored 15+ runs against just two Pac-12 teams (19 vs. Stanford in 1993, 19 vs. Oregon State in 1975) before doing it against OSU and Cal this year.
FIRST INNING EXCITEMENT
In addition to Oregon’s 11-run first inning against Oregon State on April 14, which chased the OSU starter after recording just one out, the Ducks also came out of the gates strong against Cal in the first game of the series on April 17. Oregon scored five runs off starter Nisa Ontiveros in the first inning and the Bears made a pitching change before a single out was recorded. Overall this season, the Ducks have outscored their opponents 65-16 in the first inning and 130-33 over the first two innings.
DUCKS AGAINST THE TOP-5 & NO. 1
Against top-5 ranked opponents, Oregon is 13-24 under fifth-year head coach Mike White, including a 2-1 eight-inning loss to No. 1 ranked Florida, a sweep of No. 5 ranked Washington and two wins in a three-game series with No. 1 UCLA this season (5-2). Last year Oregon went 3-4 against top-5 foes, its best mark of White’s tenure. Against No. 1 ranked teams, Oregon is 4-9 under White, including both wins over the Bruins this year.
NEARING PROGRAM WINS RECORD
The Ducks have won 50+ games twice in school history, with a program record 54 wins in 1989 when the Ducks advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Oregon is 46-5 this season, with six games left in the regular season.