Freshman pitchers push Oregon softball to 30th-straight win

It was a pitching battle between No. 3 Oregon and No. 25 BYU at Jane Sanders Stadium on Thursday. Freshman Miranda Elish got the start for the Ducks, who returned home after beating Utah in a doubleheader on Saturday, and allowed no runs on five hits. Fellow freshman pitcher Maggie Balint …

Dominant pitching this past weekend kept Oregon softball at a perfect 7-0 start to the 2021 season. The Ducks traveled down south to Fresno State and pulled out a pair of games against the Bulldogs, 10-2 on Saturday and 2-1 on Sunday. 

Oregon had six days rest after the games against Cal Poly were canceled last week. 

In the first game of the series, Oregon scored nine unanswered runs behind dominant pitching from Brooke Yanez after trailing by one in the opening inning. 

After the Bulldogs ran ahead 2-1 going into the second, the Ducks sent nine players to the plate over the next six innings. In the seventh, Oregon drove in two more runners to bring the Ducks’ lead to 10-2, with freshman Alyssa Brito’s RBI triple and freshman Ariel Carlson’s run-scoring single. 

“I think that I created a lot of momentum with those RBIs last weekend and brought it into this weekend,” Brito said. “But I think tonight us getting down in the first inning, we just wanted to pick up Brooke [Yanez] so we just tried to have her back and score some runs.”

After a rough two innings on the mound, Yanez retired the last 17 batters she faced overall on Saturday and struck out five of the final six she faced on the plate to cap off her strong play. 

The dominant pitching performance rolled into Sunday’s game as Oregon freshman Raegan Breedlove took the mound for her second career start. Breedlove worked the mound in the four efficient innings she pitched, only allowing two base hits in the third inning. 

Samaria Diaz closed out the rest of the game and relieved Breedlove in the fifth. Diaz set down the first seven batters she faced and only ran into trouble in the final inning. 

Heading into the bottom of the seventh with a 2-1 lead over the Bulldogs, Diaz recorded the first out of the inning right before a Fresno State double put a runner on second. The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game with two outs before a key Oregon catch that sealed the win. 

Haley Cruse made a clutch diving catch into right center field that prevented a game-tying hit and stranded the runner on second, securing the 2-1 win over the Bulldogs. 

“As a pitcher we know that our defense has our back and we have the hitters’ backs,” Diaz said. “Seeing Haley [Cruse] make that catch at the end shows that we always trust our defense.”

Next week, Oregon will travel to Tempe, Arizona for a pair of games against No. 1 UCLA and a single game against Utah starting Sunday.