EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon softball team opens Pac-12 play this weekend as the No. 3 ranked Ducks visit Utah for a three-game series.
Oregon (23-3) and Utah (10-9) will meet at 1 p.m. on Saturday, 1 p.m. on Sunday and 11 a.m. on Monday. The Ducks swept No. 15 ranked Stanford to open league play last year and won five straight Pac-12 games to start the conference season.
The Ducks will stay in Utah for another day and play a doubleheader with BYU and Southern Utah on Tuesday in Provo, Utah. Oregon and SUU will play at 3 p.m. before the Ducks and Cougars play for the second time in a little over a week at 6 p.m. The Ducks knocked off BYU, 3-2, in the first game last week at the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu.
#3 OREGON DUCKS (23-3)
Last Weekend: Oregon went 5-1 at the Rainbow Wahine Classic (Honolulu)
Notable: The Ducks dropped their season-opener before running off a 15-game winning streak, the longest in five seasons under head coach Mike White. The streak was snapped in an eight-inning loss to then-No. 1 ranked Florida, 2-1, in Orlando. The Ducks went 5-1 last week at the Rainbow Wahine Classic, falling to James Madison in the title game.
UTAH UTES (10-9)
Last Weekend: Utah went 1-1 against Washington to start Pac-12 play (Seattle )
All-Times Series Record: Ducks lead, 17-9
Last Meeting: No. 9 ranked Oregon beat Utah, 11-3 (6) (4/2/13)
Notable: Utah pitcher Sammy Cordova has a 12-4 record and a 1.84 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 38.0 innings. Kate Dickman is hitting a team-high .493.
SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS (7-16)
Last Weekend: SUU went 3-2 at the Springhill Suites Invitational (Boise, Idaho)
All-Times Series Record: Ducks lead, 5-3
Last Meeting: Oregon fell to Southern Utah, 2-1 (3/6/2009)
Notable: Madison Resley is hitting a team-best .482 (27-of-56) with 12 runs scored and 18 RBIs. The Thunderbirds have a 5.82 team ERA with 90 strikeouts in 140.2 innings.
BYU COUGARS (10-17) (Game will be broadcast on BYUTV)
Last Weekend: BYU went 1-4 at the Rainbow Wahine Classic (Honolulu)
All-Times Series Record: Ducks lead, 8-3
Last Meeting: Last weekend, Oregon won 3-2, in Hawai’i (3/13/14)
Notable: Oregon has won four straight against BYU, including a game last weekend in Hawai’i at the Rainbow Wahine Classic. Cheridan Hawkins struck out eight in the win.
Oregon opens Pac-12 Conference play on the road at Utah. The Ducks swept the Utes at home last year, with an 11-3 win in the first game, 11-1 in the second game and 5-2 in the series finale. Oregon is 17-9 all-time against Utah, with 10 straight wins. The smallest margin of victory for Oregon in the 10-game winning streak is two runs, coming in a 2-0 win in 2009 and a 4-2 win in 2010. The biggest win was by 10 runs, also coming on two occassions - 11-1 last year and 11-1 in 2012.
The Ducks went 5-1 at the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu. Oregon swept through the round robin portion of the tournament, 4-0, before knocking off host Hawai’i in the semifinals. The Ducks’ run came to an end in the title game, falling 3-0 to James Madison. The Dukes are receiving votes in both polls.
ALL-TOURNAMENT PICKS IN HAWAI’I
Alyssa Gillespie was named Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic tournament MVP while Cheridan Hawkins and James Madison ace Jailyn Ford were named co-Most Valuable Pitchers. Courtney Ceo, Janie Takeda and Kailee Cuico were also named to the all-tournament team. Gillespie hit .500 in six games at the tournament while Hawkins went 3-0 with two shutouts and a 0.59 ERA. Hawkins struck out 27 batters with five walks in 23.2 innings pitched in Hawai’i.
WIN NO. 200 NEARS FOR WHITE
Head coach Mike White has 196 wins entering the weekend and needs just four more to reach 200 wins in 4+ seasons with the Ducks. Kathy Arendsen (2003-09) had a program-best 231 wins in seven season with the Ducks while White just passed Tami Brown (1990-96) for second, as she posted 192 wins over seven seasons.
OREGON REMAINS TOP-5 IN BOTH POLLS
Oregon is ranked No. 3 in the NFCA poll, down from No. 2, after going 5-1 in Hawai’i. The Ducks remained at No. 4 in the USA Softball poll this week. The Ducks started the season ranked No. 8 in both polls. Under head coach Mike White, the Ducks have been ranked for 66 straight weeks in the USA Softball poll and 59 weeks in a row in the NFCA poll. The No. 2 ranking was the Ducks' highest in program history.
HAWKINS’ HOT STREAK
Over her last 95 innings pitched, Cheridan Hawkins has allowed just three earned runs on 36 hits with 146 strikeouts, good for a 0.22 ERA in that stretch. The sophomore left-hander has posted a no-hitter and eight shutouts in 13 starts this year, with a 0.90 ERA overall. Hawkins is holding hitters to a .121 opponent batting average. She’s allowed just seven extra base hits (three doubles, no triples, four home runs) all season.
Oregon has outscored opponents 149-44 thus far in the season. The Ducks have run-ruled nine teams and have also gone 3-1 in extra innings games. The second inning has been Oregon’s most productive thus far, outscoring opponents 35-8.
THE TOP OF THE LINEUP
Oregon leadoff hitter Janie Takeda and No. 2 hitter Courtney Ceo form arguably the top 1-2 punch in the nation. And now, another great hitter is making her presence felt at the top. Takeda is hitting .370 on the season with a Pac-12 leading five triples. Ceo, meanwhile, is hitting a team-best .482 this year. Last week in Hawai’i, head coach Mike White used Ceo at leadoff and Takeda third with Alyssa Gillespie in the two hole. Gillespie responded by hitting .500 in six games at the Rainbow Wahine Classic. The Oregon native is hitting .403 on the year, the second best average on the team. Gillespie also has some pop, with a .567 slugging percentage on seven extra base hits (five doubles, two homers).
HOVINGA’S BEEN HELPFUL
While Cheridan Hawkins is considered Oregon’s ace, RHP Karissa Hovinga has been quite good as well. The Canadian National team hurler has allowed only 12 earned runs over her last 11 starts, including five innings of one-run ball against No. 1 ranked Florida on Feb. 28. The junior has posted three complete games and one shutout with an 8-1 record.
DUCKS’ 15 GAME WINNING STREAK
Oregon’s 15-game winning streak this season (Feb. 7-Feb. 28) was the longest by the Ducks under fifth-year head coach Mike White. It was the longest for the program since 2007 (18 games).