Oregon softball has only played six home games this whole year.
The Ducks (18-21, 3-10 Pac-12), who’ve played 32 of their first 38 games on the road, returned to a sunny Jane Sanders Stadium on Thursday to take on the last place California Golden Bears (23-21, 2-13 Pac-12). Oregon, despite offense being scarce, relied, again, on the arm of Jordan Dail who delivered a gem to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory.
The Ducks were only able to muster two hits through four innings. But the fifth inning separated Oregon from the Bears.
Junior outfielder Haley Cruse got the offense started for Oregon. Cruse raced down the first base line after hitting a ball right at shortstop Lindsay Rood, but Rood’s throw wasn’t in time. Allee Bunker hit a bloop single to right field that fell right beneath the glove of outfielder Mikayla Coelho. The play caused Cruse to hesitate, and she got out trying to take second base, but Bunker reached on a fielder's choice.
Shortstop Jasmine Sievers gave the Ducks the lead.
“[Starting pitcher Kamalani Dung] got me out the first two times,” Sievers said. “I was locked in and I knew she wasn’t going to beat me the third time.”
Sivers, with a runner on second, knew what Dung was going to throw at her. With the count at 1-2 and two outs, Sivers was sitting on an off speed pitch.
She got what she wanted. Sivers laced a double to left field off of the wall to bring in the lone run of the day, which would be enough to earn Oregon its first home victory of the season.
“Tonight we just needed one,” head coach Melyssa Lombardi said. “We really have seen Jaz go to another level since UCLA.”
Dail, who struggled early, delivered another gem. After seeming to not have command of her pitchers in the first inning after she walked and hit a batter, she settled. Dail, who went seven innings giving up three hits and no runs on 121 pitches, went on to deliver a one-hit game the final inning.
“Some days you just got to find a way to make it work with your C-game,” Dail said.
Grasping onto a one-point lead, the Ducks needed Dail to deliver to cap off of a win.
Sabrina Nunez opened up the final inning of the game with a single to give the Bears some life. Amani Bradley quickly followed with a single to center field to build the anxiety throughout Jane Sanders Stadium. Rood tried to line a bunt down the third base line, but it quickly turned into a pop up that was caught by Rachel Cid. Jordan Fines quickly followed with a line out to Cid.
Mikayla Coelho was the final hope for the Bears. With the crowd on their feet, Dail delivered a 1-2-3 strikeout to earn her 11 strikeout of the game, bringing the Jane to a loud roar from the 1,968 in attendance.
“She’s going to give me a heart attack one day,” Lombardi said. “I just want her to stay efficient with what she’s doing.”
The Ducks will have a chance to win the series tomorrow against Cal at 7 p.m.
“We’re extremely happy to be back home,” Lombardi said. “If an opponent is walking in here, they are walking into a lion's den.”
Follow Gabriel on Twitter @gabe_ornelas