KISSIMMEE, Fla. – A late two-run homer deep to left field by Alexa Peterson in the sixth proved to be enough as the No.4 ranked Oregon softball team defeated No. 25 Auburn, 3-0, Friday afternoon to open the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
The Ducks (15-1) won their 15th straight game after scoring three runs on seven hits with no errors while the Tigers (13-3-1), who's three loses have all come to top-25 teams, were kept off the scoreboard with just three hits and no errors.
Cheridan Hawkins pitched a gem for the Ducks, tossing seven innings of three-hit ball with 12 strikeouts for her fourth shutout of the season. It was also the fifth time this season Hawkins has struck out 10-plus batters.
Both pitchers had great command to start as Oregon had just two hits and Auburn had none prior to the sixth inning, when the Ducks' bats came to life.
Peterson then crushed a 2-2 pitch from Auburn’s Lexi Davis high over the left field wall to give Oregon a 2-0 lead.
After a ground out to short by Janelle Lindvall, Kailee Cuico singled to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With Sara Goodrum pinch-running for Cuico, Alyssa Gillespie roped a one-hopper to right center to score Goodrum and gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Hawkins had her no-hitter broken up in the sixth on a leadoff single to center from Tiffany Howard. That didn’t faze the sophomore, however, as she got a strikeout followed by a quick fly out to center.
Oregon did add any more runs in the seventh, which brough Hawkins back out to end the game.
Hawkins gave up a leadoff hit to the Tigers’ Branndi Melero but was able to get McKenzie Kilpatric to fly out to center. A strike out from Jade Rhodes made it two outs before Jenna Abbott hit a single up the middle to put runners on first and second for the Tigers. But Hawkins came right back and got Austyn West to strike out ono a rise ball to pick up her eighth win of the season.The Ducks return to action at 12:30 p.m. (PST) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to take on top-ranked Florida to wrap up its first day of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.