EUGENE, Ore. - The No. 1 ranked and No. 1 overall seed Oregon softball team starts the NCAA championships this weekend with a Regional round at Howe Field.
#1 OREGON DUCKS (49-6-1, 20-3-1 Pac-12)
Regular Season: Oregon won its second straight Pac-12 title, edging out UCLA
Team BA: .347 | Team ERA: 1.85 | Head Coach: Mike White (5th Season)
Notable: Oregon did not lose a single series in Pac-12 play, with a 1-1-1 draw versus No. 3 Arizona State the closest the Ducks came to defeat. Oregon run-ruled every Pac-12 team but one (Stanford) and outscored league foes 207-78 in 24 conference games (8.63 runs per game). Oregon’s 20 conference wins are the most in program history.
#25 WISCONSIN BADGERS (34-18, 15-7 Big Ten)
Regular Season: UW finished second in the B10, lost to Michigan in B10 tourney
Team BA: .275 | Team ERA: 3.23 | Head Coach: Yvette Healy (4th Season)
Notable: This is Wisconsin’s second straight trip to Eugene for the NCAA Regional round. The Ducks defeated the Badgers, 3-0, in the regional championship last year. Wisconsin is 0-4 all-time against Oregon. The Badgers rank sixth in the NCAA in stolen bases, averaging 2.12 per game. Mary Massei leads UW with a .379 batting average.
ALBANY GREAT DANES (33-11, 14-3 America East)
Regular Season: Albany was second in the AE, beat Stony Brook to win AE tourney
Team BA: .292 | Team ERA: 2.58 | Head Coach: Chris Cannata (20th Season)
Notable: Albany defeated Stony Brook twice on May 11 to win the America East Tournament, 3-2 in 10 innings in the first game and 8-1 in the second game. The Danes lost to Stony Brook earlier in the tournament, 9-0. Maggie Cocks is hitting a team-high .386 while pitcher Brittany MacFawn has a 1.82 ERA and 19-6 record with 194 Ks.
UTAH VALLEY WOLVERINES (18-40, 5-9 WAC)
Regular Season: UVU finished fifth in the WAC, beat NMSU to win WAC tourney
Team BA: .249 | Team ERA: 4.85 | Head Coach: Nikki Palmer (1st Season)
Notable: Utah Valley and the Ducks met earlier this season on April 29, with the Ducks sweeping a doubleheader with the Wolverines, 8-0, in five innings in the first game and 5-4 in the second game. In the second game, when UO chased starting pitcher Dara Rahm after two outs, Josi Summers allowed just two runs in 5 1/3 innings with three Ks.
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 on Sunday night during the selection show. The No. 1 overall seed has won two of the last three NCAA softball titles.
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 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
Hawkins was voted Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Ceo was named the Pac-12 Batting Champion after leading the league with a .481 regular season batting average and 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 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.
OREGON VERSUS UTAH VALLEY
The Ducks are 5-0 all-time against Utah Valley, including a doubleheader sweep of the Wolverines this year on April 29. Oregon took the first game of the doubleheader, 8-0, in five innings and won a tight one, 5-4, in the second game. The Ducks and Wolverines were tied into the sixth inning in the second game, before Oregon scored in the bottom of the inning to win. LHP Cheridan Hawkins entered the second game in relief and was perfect, not allowing a baserunner while striking out eight in three innings. 3B Courtney Ceo had a pair of hits in each game. Oregon has outscored Utah Valley, 41-7 in five meetings with the Wolverines.
OREGON VERSUS WISCONSIN
The Ducks are 4-0 all-time against Wisconsin, including last year’s 3-0 win in the Regional round. Before that game, Oregon and Wisconsin last met in 2001, with the Ducks winning twice. In four games against the Badgers, the Ducks posted three shutouts and allowed just two total runs. In last year’s meeting, No. 3 Oregon beat No. 25 Wisconsin, 3-0, on the arms of Jessica Moore and Cheridan Hawkins. Hawkins started the game and allowed just two hits in four innings before Moore entered and tossed three innings of two hit ball with four strikeouts. Hawkins and Moore did not issue a walk. Offensively, C Janelle Lindvall drove in a pair of runs with a homer while Sam Pappas also had a homer.
OREGON VERSUS ALBANY
Oregon has met Albany just once in program history, a 3-1 win for the then-No. 11 ranked Ducks on May 20, 2011. That game came in the opener of the Regional round at Penn State, which the Ducks won to move on to a Super Regional at Florida.
OREGON HOLDS ON TO TOP SPOT
Oregon is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation in 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.
NCAA STAT RANKINGS
Oregon ended the regular season ranked third in the nation in team batting average (.347), seventh in slugging (.536), 14th in ERA (1.85) and 42nd in fielding percentage (.969). The Ducks scored the fourth most runs per game in the nation (6.98)
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 hit just .242 as a team.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
This is Oregon’s 17th apperance in the NCAA softball championships. The Ducks have 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 42-32 all-time in the NCAA softball championiships.
REGIONAL ROUND UNDER WHITE
Oregon is a perfect 12-0 in the Regional round in four seasons under head coach Mike White. The Ducks have outscored Regional round foes 52-17 in those 12 games.
CEO, HAWKINS PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
3B Courtney Ceo and LHP Cheridan Hawkins are both in the final 10 for the USA Softball National Player of the Year Award. The final three are announced on May 21 and the winner is revealed on May 27.
HAWKINS NEW SEASON STRIKEOUT LEADER
Cheridan Hawkins broke the Oregon single-season strikeout record on May 2 when she eclipsed Jessica Moore’s previous mark of 256, set in 2012. She now has 283 this season. Hawkins needed five more strikeouts going into the first game of the ASU series but the sophomore rang up 10 Sun Devils to break the record. Hawkins currently ranks third in UO career history with 495 strikeouts through her first two seasons. Moore holds that record still, with 915 over four years.
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 team batting average and .536 slugging percentage would smash the single-season program records of .329 and .526, both set last season. In fact, Oregon has produced a .300+ team batting average just three times in program history, all coming since 2007.
While the Ducks are getting it done at the plate, they are also performing at a high level in the field. Oregon’s .969 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 47 errors this year in 57 games while opponents have made 76 errors in that span.
THE LONG BALL
Oregon hit at least one home run in 18 of its 24 Pac-12 games this year. The Ducks blasted 28 homers overall in league games this year. C Janelle Lindvall and 1B Kailee Cuico each hit a team-high seven home runs in Pac-12 play. Koral Costa had six of her homers in league games.
GRAND SLAM POWER
Oregon has hit eight grand slams this year, with six coming in Pac-12 play. Of her team-high 13 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.
CUICO’S GRAND SLAM RANKINGS
With three grand slams this season, Kailee Cuico has climbed into the NCAA record books. Only five players in the history of college softball have hit more than three grand slams in a single season. Cuico’s three grand slams is tied with 10 others for the sixth most in NCAA single-season history.
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 in one inning 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 previously 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. Oregon’s 12 runs against Arizona State on May 3 were the second most ever scored by the Ducks in a game against the Sun Devils while their 14 runs against Arizona in the regular season finale on May 10 is the most ever scored by a Duck team against the Wildcats.
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 71-23 in the first inning and 151-45 over the first two innings.
DUCKS AGAINST THE TOP-5 & NO. 1
Against top-5 ranked opponents, Oregon is 14-25-1 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, two wins in a three-game series with No. 1 UCLA this season and a 1-1-1 mark against No. 3 Arizona State (6-3-1 this year). Last year Oregon went 3-4 against top-5 foes, previously 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.
HOT AT HOWE FIELD
Oregon went 7-1 on its season-opening homestand this season. The loss, on April 6, against then-No. 1 ranked UCLA, was the Ducks’ first regular season home loss since Oregon also fell to then-No. 14 UCLA on May 10, 2012. Oregon had won 25 straight regular season home games in that span, including a 16-0 regular season home record last year. Including postseason games, the Ducks are 34-4-1 at Howe Field over the last two seasons (2013 and 2014).