Pac-12 player of the week Shannon Rhodes leads No. 6 Oregon into conference opener against No. 3 UCLA
Last season, on April 7, UCLA defeated Oregon and ended the Ducks’ record 35-game winning streak. The two losses to the Bruins during that weekend’s series were two of six Pac-12 losses for the Oregon team.
Two years ago, the Ducks were knocked out of Women’s College World Series contention by UCLA in Eugene.
In the long-time series between the two schools, the Bruins lead the Ducks 82-25. But these recent years have created a rivalry.
“I think UCLA we care more about than any other team,” Oregon senior Gwen Svekis said. “It’s always going to be a good series. If there is a weekend to get out to Jane Sanders, it’s this one that’s for sure.”
The No. 6 ranked Oregon Ducks will look for redemption as they open this season’s Pac-12 conference play against the No. 3 UCLA Bruins at home this weekend in a three-game series at Jane Sanders Stadium from Friday through Sunday.
After sweeping the Oregon Invitational last weekend, Oregon (23-4) enters Friday’s first matchup against the Bruins with a five-game winning streak and an undefeated at-home record. The team has also won every conference opener since the 2013 season.
UCLA (24-0) enters the weekend remaining one of final two undefeated teams in the country, along with the No. 1 ranked Washington Huskies. This season UCLA has run-ruled their opponents 13 times with 11 shutouts.
“Whoever wins the series is going to have a pretty big jump on everything,” Oregon head coach Mike White said. “We gotta try and change the tide here and it’s gonna be interesting to see if we can step up and win the series.”
On Sunday’s 17-1 run-rule victory over Bryant, Oregon’s quick five-run inning began with a Shannon Rhodes RBI single in the first inning. The scored run got the Ducks on the board and propelled them to blast 13 more runs the following inning.
Rhodes ended the game with two hits and combined for hitting a 0.692 over the five-game weekend with her eight RBIs, five scored runs and one homer. On Monday, she was named Pac-12 player of the week for the week of March 12, Oregon’s 69th Pac-12 player of the week award and Rhodes’ first.
In the circle, junior Megan Kleist enters conference play with 15.1 consecutive hitless innings, on top of 20.1 consecutive innings not allowing a single earned run. Sophomore Miranda Elish owns a 0.22 ERA and is ranked No.3 in the nation this season with a perfect 10-0 record. She brings in her undefeated collegiate record of 20-0 into this weekend’s anticipated conference opener.
“I think we like to challenge to be honest,” Rhodes said. “I think what we take from last year is anybody can be beaten on any given day. So, it doesn’t matter if you are 35-0 or 0-35 — just anybody can be beaten, whenever, however, and you just have to be ready to step into the flames.”
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni
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