Oregon softball holds off UCLA comeback in 7-5 win
It was supposed to be a simple finish for Oregon in the bottom of the seventh inning. But UCLA, the No. 3 team in the country, certainly made it interesting.
Miranda Elish, who had looked composed throughout the entire game, ran into trouble in the top of the seventh inning. Left fielder Aaliyah Jordan launched a three-run home run into the newly constructed center field bleachers to cut Oregon’s lead to 7-5. Another single, and Rachel Garcia, who had already hit a home run, approached the plate.
Elish forced a fielder’s choice to end the game, and No. 6 Oregon came away with its first conference win of the season, 7-5 over No. 3 UCLA.
“It was very nerve-wracking, but I had confidence in Miranda,” head coach Mike White said. “You could tell she hadn’t really been in that type of game before, and she was speeding the game up a little bit.”
The Ducks did not wait around for UCLA to score first as they did last night. Oregon’s speed around the bases and patience at the plate worked all game against UCLA. The Ducks drew six walks between two pitchers, Selina Ta’amilo, who started the game, and Holly Azevedo.
At the start of the second inning, Oregon got the bases loaded on one hit, a single from DJ Sanders who led off. One hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and another walk brought Mia Camuso to the plate. She worked the count full and forced a walk to put another run on the board for Oregon.
Oregon didn’t score again until the fourth inning, when leadoff hitter Jenna Lilley was hit by a pitch for the second time. Mary Iakopo’s speed prevented the fielders choice on an infield single, and Gwen Skevis hit a single up the middle to load the bases again with just one out.
Mia Camuso stepped up to the plate and was hit by a pitch, scoring a run while she jogged to first. The very next play, Azevedo threw a wild pitch, advancing all Oregon runners while Alexis Mack scored from third base.
“I think we had more patience at the plate, but we also gave away some opportunities that really tore the game open there, especially early on,” White said.
Elish was steady for most of the game, only giving up one run through five innings. The sophomore remains undefeated, now 23-0 in her career and 11-0 on the season. She finished the game with five earned runs, nine strikeouts and four walks. The last inning of the game was by far her biggest challenge.
“It was really intense, I had to calm it down and make quality pitches and trust my team,” Elish said. “[Garcia] capitalized on my mistake, so I just couldn’t make the same mistake again.”
The Oregon-UCLA series will conclude in a rubber match on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Jane Sanders Stadium.
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august
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