At the beginning of the season, Oregon softball freshmen were not sure what to expect for the upcoming year.
After the departure of nine players in the offseason, most of whom were starters and upperclassmen and a brand new coaching staff, the 10 freshmen had to deal with the aftermath of the chaotic offseason.
Head coach Melyssa Lombardi had to gain trust from her new freshmen group and few returning players. Lombardi watched the freshmen squad grow into potential leaders and stars throughout the season.
“I think what they faced this year, they’ll be thinking, ‘If we could do last year, we can do anything.’” Lombardi said. “It was important for this group to fight from the very beginning to the very end.”
Freshman Jasmine Sievers was placed into the starting lineup in the team’s first tournament at the Kajikawa Classic. Sievers went a flawless 3-for-3 including a home run, two RBIs and two singles. She enjoyed a fantastic debut season and led the team in doubles, slugging percentage (.545) and extra base hits with 20. Sievers earned First Team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Freshman and Pac-12 All-Defensive.
“Coach has a lot of confidence in us. She always tells us how proud she is of us,” Sievers said. “For us players, we all have confidence in one another. We all know that we can get the job done and we each have a special role on this team.”
Fellow infielder and starter Rachel Cid was also thrown into multiple positions throughout the season. The third baseman set the standard high in the beginning of the season when she earned the team’s first Pac-12 freshman of the week after the team’s first tournament.
Cid was there to pick up the pieces after Oregon lost its entire pitching staff from last year. The Ducks had three of the top 10 pitchers in the country leave the program, so Cid was ready and available to help the team’s only pitcher, Virginia Tech transfer Jordan Dail.
In four games, Cid helped out in the circle when she relieved Dail for a breather and even played shortstop for an injured Sievers in the series against Utah.
She ended her first season with 31 RBIs, nine home runs and 37 hits in 49 games as a starter. Her standout performances earned her All-Freshman Pac-12 honors and Pac-12 freshman of the week twice.
Cid’s play toward the end of the season was a bright light the team needed when they fell in the Pac-12 standings. To put her impact in perspective, Cid’s nine home runs were the most by a freshman player since 2013. She was only one of four Ducks to start all 52 games and was the key player in the upset win against No.1 UCLA.
“Rachel, she’s a great athlete,” Lombardi said. “She’s been leading on the field toward the end of the season as well.”
Unlike her fellow freshmen, utility player Allee Bunker saw her numbers fluctuate throughout the season and struggled to keep consistent numbers. Bunker found her stride again and led the Ducks in conference play with a .380 batting average.
She joined Sievers and Cid for All-Freshman Pac-12 honors and also received Second Team All-Pacific Region.
Lombardi praised the freshmen and is proud of them for stepping up on the field and as leaders on this young team. Next year, she expects more growth from the freshmen as players and as leaders.
“Next year we’re going to be sitting here talking and you’re going to go, ‘Gosh, do you remember last year?” Lombardi said. “‘And wow, I can’t believe what that has done.’”
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