EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 1 seeded Oregon softball team will play host to No. 16 seed Minnesota in a NCAA Super Regional this weekend at Howe Field.
The Ducks and Golden Gophers will square for a three-game series starting Saturday night with the winner advancing to the Women's College World Series next week in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The first game of the series is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with ESPN2 handling the broadcast. The second game will be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday, this time on ESPN. A final third game will be played, if needed, at 5 p.m. on Sunday on ESPN2.
#1 OREGON DUCKS (52-7-1, 20-3-1 Pac-12, First)
Team BA: .348 | Team ERA: 1.79 | Runs Scored: 422 | Runs Allowed: 141
Regular Season: Ducks won their second straight Pac-12 title with UO record 20 wins
Regional Round: Oregon (3-0) swept its regional of Utah Valley, Albany and Wisconsin
All-Times Series Record: Minnesota leads, 5-3
Last Meeting: No. 10 Oregon beat No. 24 Minnesota, 3-2, on March 8, 2003
Notable: This is Oregon’s fifth straight Super Regional appearance, tied with Oklahoma for the third longest active streak in the NCAA (Alabama -10, Washington - 6). The Ducks did not lose a Pac-12 series in the regular season, with a 1-1-1 record in a three-game series against then-No. 3 Arizona State the closest the Ducks came to defeat. The Ducks’ 20 Pac-12 wins this year is a new program record and Oregon is just two wins away from the overall wins record (54). Oregon outscored its opponents 24-2 in the regional round, including a win over Utah Valley and two over No. 25 ranked Wisconsin, which finished fourth in the Big Ten, just behind Minnesota.
#16 MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (44-10, 16-6 Big Ten, Third)
Team BA: .289 | Team ERA: 1.85 | Runs Scored: 315 | Runs Allowed: 116
Regular Season: Minnesota finished third in the Big Ten, behind Michigan & Nebraska
Regional Round: Minnesota (3-1) won its regional vs. Green Bay, NDSU and Auburn
Head Coach: Jessica Allister (Fourth Season)
Notable: This is Minnesota’s first Super Regional appearance. Minnesota advanced to its Minneapolis regional final by winning its first two games, 10-1 vs. Green Bay and 4-1 vs. North Dakota State. In the regional title, the Golden Gophers lost their first attempt, 4-3, to Auburn, but rebounded to beat the Tigers in the second game, 8-6. Sam Macken hit a three-run homer to right center in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Gophers up for good. Sara Moulton has started a team-high 35 games in 38 appearances. Moulton has a 27-6 record with a 1.71 ERA in 200.1 innings pitched. She’s struck out 243 batters and walked 49.
OREGON NO. 1 OVERALL SEED
Oregon was named the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA softball championship for the first time in program history, ESPNU announced during the selection show. The No. 1 overall seed has won two of the last three NCAA softball titles.
The No. 1 seeded Ducks swept through their regional with a 3-0 record, outscoring their opponents 24-2 in the three games. The Ducks tied their postseason scoring record with 12 runs in a run-rule win over Utah Valley. Oregon previous had a program-best 12 runs against South Florida in the 2004 regional round.
OF Janie Takeda was named Eugene Regional MVP after hitting a team-high .545 (6-for-11) with five runs scored and five RBIs. The junior also hit her first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the regional title game win over Wisconsin.
In addition to OF Janie Takeda being named regional MVP, 2B Karine Shaver, 3B Courtney Ceo, SS Nikki Udria, UT Alyssa Gillespie, LHP Cheridan Hawkins and RHP Karissa Hovinga were named to the all-Region team.
HOVINGA’S CAREER GAME VS. BADGERS
In Sunday’s regional final win over Wisconsin, RHP Karissa Hovinga had a career game. The junior, who saw action in the Ducks’ last visit to the WCWS in 2012, did not allowed a run on just three hits in 5 1/3 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts. She issued just one walk.
ALL-AROUND DOMINANCE IN REGIONALS
Oregon hit a combined .369 over three games in the regional round, with 31 hits and 24 runs scored. On the flip side, opponents hit just .136 off the Ducks in the regional round, with two runs on nine total hits. LHP Cheridan Hawkins posted a 0.66 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 10.2 innings while RHP Karissa Hovinga went 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 8.1 innings. OF Janie Takeda (.545), 3B Courtney Ceo (.545) and DP/OF Alyssa Gillespie (.500) all hit .500 or better over the weekend.
SUPER REGIONAL STREAK
Oregon is making its fifth straight Super Regional appearance. Oregon’s five straight appearances is tied with Oklahoma for the third longest active streak in the NCAA. Washington has been to six straight Super Regionals while Alabama has been to all 10 Super Regionals since the round was first started in 2005. Prior to 2005 there were eight regionals with eight teams and the winner advanced to the WCWS.
CEO NEW SINGLE-SEASON HITS LEADER
3B Courtney Ceo had six hits over three games in regional play last weekend, giving her 93 hits on the season, breaking the previous Oregon single-season record of 92 hits, set by Janie Takeda a year ago.
With a win over No. 9 Arizona on May 8 and a loss by UCLA at Arizona State, Oregon clinched its second straight Pac-12 championship. The Ducks, who had never won a league title before last season, ended the year with a 20-3-1 mark in conference play. Oregon is the first team to win back-to-back Pac-12 titles since Arizona in 2003 and 2004. Arizona also did it in 1997 and 1998 and 1994 and 1995. UCLA’s four straight conference championships from 1988-1991 is the Pac-12 record. The 20 wins are the most by any Pac-12 team since Cal’s 21-3 record in 2012 and the second most since UCLA’s 22-6 mark in 1999.
PAC-12 POSTSEASON AWARDS
Cheridan Hawkins was voted Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Courtney Ceo was named the Pac-12 Batting Champion after leading the league with a .481 regular season batting average and Mike White earned the league’s coach of the year award. White, a back-to-back winner of the coach of the year award, is the only coach in program history to be named the league’s top coach twice. Hawkins is the second straight Oregon hurler to win the league’s pitcher of the year honors, as Jessica Moore won last season. Moore was the Ducks’ first ever winner of the award in program history. Along with the individual awards, the Ducks had numerous players named to all-league teams. Hawkins and Ceo were joined by Alexa Peterson and Janie Takeda on the first team all-Pac-12 squad for the second straight year while Koral Costa and Janelle Lindvall were second team all-Pac-12 picks. Kailee Cuico, Alyssa Gillespie and Nikki Udria earned honorable mention all-Pac-12 accolades. Udria was also selected to the Pac-12 all-freshman team while Sammie Puentes earned honorable mention all-freshman recognition. Costa, Hawkins and Lindvall were all-freshman choices last year while Takeda was in 2012 plus Ceo and Peterson in 2011.
Head coach Mike White has seen three of his assistants leave for head coaching jobs over the last four years. Most recently Blake Miller left to take over at Virginia for the 2014 campaign. Before that Lisa Dodd was named head coach at UNLV in 2012. The first Oregon assistant under White to take a head coaching job was Jessica Allister at Minnesota prior to the 2011 season. .
OREGON VERSUS MINNESOTA
The Ducks and Golden Gophers haven’t met since 2003, a 3-2 win by Oregon. Before 2003, Minnesota had won five of the previous seven meetings.
OREGON HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT
Oregon was the No. 1 ranked team in the nation in the final regular season edition of both top-25 polls for the sixth straight week. After taking 2-of-3 from previous No. 1 UCLA, the Ducks took the cat bird seat on April 8 and haven’t look back. 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 73 straight weeks in the USA Softball poll and 66 weeks in a row in the NFCA poll.
CURRENT NCAA STAT RANKINGS
After the regional round, the Ducks currently rank third in the nation with a .348 team batting average and rank fourth in scoring, averaging 7.03 runs per game. Also on offense, the Ducks’ .534 slugging percentage is seventh best in the nation. Oregon’s pitchers have combined for a 1.79 ERA, good for ninth in the NCAA.
LAST YEAR IN THE TOURNAMENT
Oregon swept through the regional round a year ago at Howe Field, defeating BYU, 5-2, North Carolina, 3-0, and Wisconsin, 3-0. The No. 3 seeded Ducks met No. 14 seed Nebraska in the Super Regional round, falling two games to one. The Ducks lost, 5-2, in the first game before rebounding with a thrilling 4-3 win in 11 innings in the second game. 3B Courtney Ceo hit .556 over six games in the postseason while LF Janie Takeda scored a team-high five runs. Sam Pappas drove in a team-best five runs as C/RF Alexa Peterson and C Janelle Lindvall each had three RBIs. LHP Cheridan Hawkins went 2-0 in the postseason, with a 0.47 ERA a year ago. She allowed just one run on six hits in 15 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts. Oregon’s pitching staff posted a 1.67 ERA in the postseason last year but UO hit just .242 as a team.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
This is Oregon’s 17th apperance in the NCAA softball championships. The Ducks have now advanced to the Super Regionals five times and the NCAA Women’s College World Series twice (Oregon also went to the AIAW World Series twice, before the NCAA sponsored women’s sports in 1981-82). Oregon is 45-32 all-time in the NCAA softball championships.
REGIONALS UNDER WHITE
Oregon is now a perfect 15-0 in the Regional round in five seasons under head coach Mike White. The Ducks have outscored regional round foes 76-19 in those 15 games.
SUPER REGIONIALS UNDER WHITE
While the Ducks are a perfect 15-0 in regional play under head coach Mike White, the Ducks are 3-7 under White in Super Regional games. Oregon was swept at Missouri in 2010, swept at Florida in 2011, won 2-1 at Texas in 2012 and lost, 2-1, to Nebraska in Eugene last season.