* A boxscore, play-by-play and updated tournament bracket/TV schedule are located in the LINKS box to the right, and updated season/career stats are available above.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 11 University of Oregon softball team (42-14) celebrated its second-ever Super Regional bid in as many years with its 3-1 win over Penn State (31-24-1) in the NCAA Regional finale Sunday afternoon at Beard Field.
"I was proud of how our team played today," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "Penn State won an emotional game last night, so we knew they we would have to play aggressively. We were diving all over the place, and trying to pick each other up. Jess pitched her heart out, and our offense stayed patient and knew that the hits would fall eventually."
Keeping with the weekend’s low-scoring theme, the Ducks scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning, while the Nittany Lions scored the game’s first run in the third.
In the first five innings, the Duck bats struck out only once, but their three hits and one walk had also left them scoreless against All-Big Ten Second Team pitcher and starter Lisa Akamine.
That finally changed in the sixth inning.
UO sophomore Kaylan Howard reached on a one-out error by the third baseman on a grounder, then advanced to third on senior Monique Fuiava’s double that bounced off the left field wall.
Senior Kaitlin Vitek followed with a shallow liner that the left fielder dropped as she ran in and allowed Oregon’s first run to score.
Penn State turned to the bullpen and brought in the school's all-time career wins leader Jackie Hill (20-14) to try and get the inning's final two outs.
However, freshman Alexa Peterson followed with a double off the All-Big Ten Second Team choice to right field to knock in UO's final two runs – her third hit of the afternoon and fifth of the series in eight at-bats.
The Penn State crowd raised an early roar Sunday when Akamine banged an RBI single to right field in the third inning, and scored one of the two hitters who had walked prior.
PSU threatened again in the sixth after it rapped a pair of one-out singles and forced White to bring in senior Brittany Rumfelt to face left-handed hitter Alyssa Sovereign. The latter player had hit a pair of two-run homers Saturday, and soon had runners on second and third after a wild pitch.
After Sovereign walked, White reinserted sophomore starter Jessica Moore (24-9) with the bases loaded and one out. The All-Pac-10 First Team honoree retired the next two batters via grounders on a force-out at home and first base.
Notching all 21 outs, Moore ultimately struck out five, walked two, gave up four hits and one earned run.
"I didn't have quite the same stuff like yesterday," Moore said, "so the strikeouts weren't there and I had to get ground balls and fly balls. Pitching three starts at last year's regional (at Atlanta) gave me confidence that I could do it again this weekend. Pitching on enemy soil also helps get me up, and makes me concentrate that much more."
For PSU, Akamine struck out one, walked two, allowed four hits in her 5 1/3 innings, and both of her runs allowed were unearned. Hill pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, struck out two, walked none, gave up one hit, and her run allowed was unearned.
"Akamine pitched really well," White said. "She kept our hitters off-balance, and she especially came up with a big start after Hill pitched so many innings yesterday. Their backs were against the wall, and they didn't go down without a fight."
Besides Peterson's season-high-tying three hits, freshman Courtney Ceo
and Fuiava also hit safely once, and Fuiava and freshman Kailee Cuico
also reached via walks.
Figuring in Sunday's stats, Fuiava climbed UO's all-time career lists in doubles (third, 38) and walks (10th, 65), and its season chart in doubles (ninth, 13). Moore made similar moves up the season wins (third, 24) and career appearances (10th, 80) categories.
"We laid it all on the line," Fuiava said. "We had an error early, so I wanted to make up for it with my bat. We're all behind each other. Jessica pitched great and my roommate Alexa (Peterson) went 3-for-3 on the day, so that was fun to see, too."
For the three games, Peterson, led UO in batting (.625), hits (5), slugging (.750), walks (1-tied) and RBI (3), and two others hit +.250 - Christie Nieto (.333, 1-for-3, 1 RBI) and Allie Burger (.286, 2-for-7, 1 RBI). Moore ended with a 0.67 ERA en route to her third, fourth and fifth postseason wins, and struck out 25, walked three, and allowed 10 hits in her 21 innings and three starts.
Earlier in the tourney, Moore beat Albany, 3-1, Friday, and one-hit Fordham in Saturday’s 2-0 win.
Penn State had advanced to Sunday’s final after Saturday's 6-1 win over Albany and 4-2, 16-inning win vs. Fordham, the America East and Atlantic-10 Conference champions, respectively. Hosting its first regional in its new ball park, the Nittany Lions lost its opener, 2-0, to Fordham Friday after giving up a two-run, seventh-inning homer.
Oregon is now 5-0 all-time against Penn State with two of those other wins coming in the 2003 and '07 Regionals. UO's other two series victories came via a pair of 2-0 shutouts in opening-month action in 2004. White served on the Duck staff in the '03 and '04 tilts as the assistant coach in charge of pitchers and catchers.
Last year in White's first season as head coach, UO claimed its first-ever regional crown in Atlanta when it beat Auburn, 1-0, and upset No. 7 seed Georgia Tech, 11-2 (5) and 4-3 (8). Afterward, Oregon lost in the Super Regional at No. 8 seed Missouri, 1-0, 7-3.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Oregon advances to play No. 4 seed Florida who won the Gainesville Regional Sunday with an 11-3 win over UCLA. The returning NCAA champion Bruins won the day's first game, 3-2, over the Gators.
Friday's first game is set for a 11 a.m. start PT (2 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast by ESPN-U HD and ESPN3.com.
Saturday's second game is set for 9 a.m. start PT (Noon ET), and a third game (if necessary would follow immediately after. Both of Saturday's game will be televised by ESPN HD / ESPN3.com.
In two weeks, the nation’s eight Super Regional winners compete in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., Thursday-Wednesday, June 2-8, which is also double-elimination format.
More information on the NCAA tourney is available at the www.NCAAsports.com website.
OREGON 3, Penn State 1 (May 22, 2011 at University Park, Pa.)
#11 OREGON........ 000 003 0 - 3 5 0 (42-14)
Penn State........ 001 000 0 - 1 4 2 (31-24-1)
Pitchers: OREGON - Moore, Jessica; Rumfelt, Brittany(8) and Peterson, Alexa. Penn State - Akamine; Hill(6) and Hatfield. Win-Moore, Jessica(24-9) Loss-Hill(20-14) T-1:53 A-478. Weather: 68, m. cloudy, wind 7 mph S. Rumfelt, B faced 1 batter in the 6th.
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