2018.04.23.DKR.Haley Cruse

Oregon Ducks outfielder Haley Cruse (26) at bat. Oregon softball takes on Portland State at Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on April 23, 2018. (Devin Roux/Emerald)

Oregon softball head coach Melyssa Lombardi and her program are ready to pick up where they left off.

COVID-19 precautions and other guidelines haven’t stopped the program from pushing forward. 

“The main protocol is that we have to wear our masks, enter and exit buildings a specific way and maintain a six foot distance when on the field,” Lombardi said. “We are finding ways to be creative to be able to have live situations going now while staying within protocol.” 

Coach Lombardi is coming into the season with a roster full of talent. 

“It’s a new team and a new journey but we still have to hit that grind hard with our process through the fall,” Lombardi said. “They’re eager and feel like they’ve got some unfinished business.”

Despite COVID-19 ending their season early, the program maintained their physical and mental shape in order to produce during the 2021 season. 

“As a staff, we were left not knowing what our team was going to look like when they arrived on campus,” Lombardi said. “Everybody came back in really good shape with what they had to work with.”

With the 2020 season being canceled, Haley Cruse, the Ducks star outfielder, opted to come back to Eugene and play this season. 

“It was a very drawn out decision because I wasn’t sure what the logistics were going to look like,” Cruse said. “It was a long process but I always knew I wanted to come back.” 

Reagan Breedland, freshman pitcher, has already caught the attention of the coaching staff and players. 

“She throws the ball hard and has a good late break,” Lombardi said. “Our hitters have gotten to hit off her and have been really impressed with her.”

The program's biggest struggle: team building. 

Engaging in activities and bonding off the field is just as important as on the field. Creativity has been the driving force for the Ducks as they adapt with COVID-19 guidelines, while still being able to bond with one another. Jordan Dail, a junior pitcher, addressed how the program will overcome their struggle of bonding.

“This team is the closest team I’ve ever been on, and we’ve always gotten along super well,” she said. “Our biggest thing that we’ll have to overcome is finding ways to still be able to see one another while still being safe.” 

The program’s Pac-12 schedule has yet to be released and the start date of their season remains unknown. 

 

Follow O’nalisa on Twitter @onalisa__hall