Oregon softball defeats Drake 3-0, advances to Super Regional

Just like the previous two games for Oregon softball, runs were hard to come by in Saturday’s Eugene Regional matchup against Drake.

Oregon had not allowed a run in its previous 23 innings of play coming into Saturday’s match up, putting pressure on Drake’s pitcher Nicole Newman to be perfect. Newman pitched well, but ultimately succumbed to Oregon’s offense in the fifth inning on an Alexis Mack single.

The No. 1 Oregon softball team (50-7) defeated the Drake Bulldogs 3-0, thanks to a stellar performance by pitcher Miranda Elish and a three-run fifth inning, earning a spot in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament as the Ducks look to advance on to the Women’s College World Series.

Mia Camuso led the inning off with a single and Lauren Lindvall repeated the result. Cherish Burks then pinch ran for Lindvall and the two Ducks were bunted over by Shannon Rhodes. Jenna Lilley was then intentionally walked, loading the bases for Mack.

The slap-hitting left fielder blooped a single through the shift, scoring Camuso and the sliding Burks, giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead.

“She was able to pop one over the top,” head coach Mike White said. “I thought she did a really good job in controlling that. In similar situations this year I pinch hit for her, but I just had a gut feeling that she was gonna come through.”

Haley Cruse singled two pitches later to score Lilley, but Mack was thrown out at home by Drake left fielder Abby Buie on the play. Mack appeared to be safe, but was called out at the plate.

Elish and her 0.96 ERA took the circle for the Ducks, looking to go the distance. The sophomore ran into plenty of jams throughout the game, but never faltered, throwing seven innings of shutout softball. The righty struck out 11 Bulldogs, making her total in the regional 25 over 14 innings.

There came a time where it seemed imminent Maggie Balint would relieve Elish. With two runners on and one out in the sixth, White walked to the circle to chat with Elish and was met with the confidence and determination every coach wants to see out of their pitcher.

“Coach just said, ‘I’m gonna bring Maggie in,’” Elish said before catcher Gwen Svekis interjected.

“She said, ‘No. I got this,’” Svekis said.

That was all White needed as he retreated to the dugout and watched Elish strike out the next two batters to end the inning.

“It was three words,” White said. “‘I got this,’ I said, ‘Okay, show me.’”

Elish also flashed the leather, making a diving catch on a bunt attempt, which might be seen later tonight on ESPN.

“That’s what I told Gwen,” Elish said. “I said, ‘If I’m not on SportsCenter Top-10, I’m gonna be really upset.’”

Oregon will sit back and await the winner of the Kentucky regional with its scoreless streak now at 30, including the 21 innings from the regional.

“Hearing they didn’t let up a run is so cool to me,” Svekis said. “I just think that is the most awesome, fun statistic to hear. They’re some tough cookies in the circle.”

Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack

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Maverick Pallack

Maverick Pallack

Maverick is an associate sports editor and reporter covering football, baseball, softball, track and field, women's tennis and men's tennis. You can follow him on Twitter @mavpallack or contact him at [email protected]