Oregon softball defeats Oregon State 7-2

No. 6 Oregon hadn’t won a three-game series since the beginning of the month when it swept Arizona State. That changed on Saturday when the Ducks beat Oregon State 7-2 to secure their first three-game series win since April 2.

After the game, both head coach Mike White and senior right fielder Danika Mercado discussed the importance of momentum, both in the game and in the season as a whole.

“Every game’s important right now as you’re looking into the postseason,” White said. “Once we get some momentum, we want to keep it.”

“Winning a series is huge for momentum,” Mercado added. “Our team has needed a couple big games of hitting, and I think we’ve had them. Like I said in the past, it just takes a couple hits for us to get going.”

Momentum was on the Duck’s side as they led 4-0 heading to the fifth inning but that changed quickly in the fifth when Oregon State (24-21, 6-11) put together a rally. After Natalie Hampton hit a double to centerfield, she advanced Sammi Noland, who reached base on a walk, to third.

With two bases loaded and only one out, freshman pitcher Miranda Elish came in to relieve another freshman, Maggie Balint, who finished the game with two hits and a strikeout but walked six. Although Elish managed to strike out Alysha Everett, Lovie Lopez was able to hit a single and scored Noland and Gregoire, pinch running for Hampton. The score stood at 4-2 after Oregon State batted.

“Maggie just wasn’t getting strikes,” White said. “She had six walks, and that’s too many at this level.”

But Oregon (40-6, 13-6) regained momentum in its half of the fifth. After Shannon Rhodes singled to left field, Mia Camuso came up to bat. She reached first on a fielder’s choice that also saw Rhodes advance to second on a fielding error. Oregon State had three such errors in the game.

Another fielding error allowed Lauren Lindvall to advance to first base, loading the bases. A pitching error also cost the Beavers when Nerissa Eason hit Jenna Lilley with a pitch, allowing Rhodes to score. Then, Mercado singled to right field to score Lindvall and Camuso, bringing the score up to 7-2.

“I think that was a huge inning for us,” Mercado said of Oregon’s five-run fifth. “We always talk about winning the inning.”

After that, Oregon State decided to take out their pitcher, switching Eason for Taylor Cotton. Eason finished with seven hits, two errors and five walks, but only one strikeout. One of those errors had allowed Oregon to score in the bottom of the second when Eason threw an illegal pitch, enabling Mia Camuso to bring the score up 2-0.

Although Cotton was able to keep Oregon at seven, it was Elish who stole the show for the relief pitchers. She finished the final two innings by throwing six strikeouts with only two hits.

“Miranda did a fantastic job. That’s the best that I’ve ever seen her pitch,” White said. “I think she continues to get stronger and stronger week to week. I mean she struck out their best hitter [Alyssa Everett] twice.”

The Ducks will conclude their three-game series against Oregon State on Sunday at Jane Saunders Stadium.

Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03

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Hannah Bonnie

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