2019.4.18.EMG.MMM.Softball-18.jpg

Jasmine Sievers (5), makes the first and only home run of the game. Oregon softball defeated the California Bears with a score of 1-0 on April 18, 2019, in Eugene, Ore. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

Oregon softball won its first series of the season, splitting a Saturday makeshift doubleheader in Eugene.

The Ducks took the first game 4-0 but dropped the second game 5-3 after falling behind early.

Game 1

Jordan Dail continued her dominance from the circle as Oregon took care of business Saturday morning, finishing Friday night’s postponed game with a 4-0 win.

“I think we came out with the same intensity that we did in the first inning last night,” center fielder Haley Cruse said.

Dail struck out six batters and allowed six hits while shutting out the Bears for the second straight game to extend her streak to 14 scoreless innings.

The Ducks’ defense behind Dail was a strength in game one, with Hannah Galey throwing a laser from right field to get an out at home and Cherish Burks making a sliding catch in left field to highlight Oregon’s defensive efforts.

Oregon began Saturday’s first game leading 1-0 after an Allee Bunker triple scored Cruse on Friday night in the first inning before the rain postponed the game.

On Saturday, Oregon got runs from a variety of play. Cruse and Jasmine Sievers each hit solo home runs in the third and sixth innings, respectively, while former Oregon soccer forward Bayley Bruner scored from second on a Rachel Cid single in the sixth inning.  

Game 2

After going down 5-0 in the top of the first, Oregon failed to come back in the third and final game of the series, falling 5-3 to the Bears.

The Ducks made a late charge, which included a Shaye Bowden solo home run to center field in the seventh inning, but could not complete the comeback. With two on and two out, Cruse had the chance to walk off, but grounded out to end the game. Oregon got two runs in the sixth inning but stranded two runners in scoring position, eventually totalling 13 runners left on base in the afternoon.

“Trying to get them all in the end, it doesn’t work that way,” head coach Melyssa Lombardi said. “You’ve gotta be able to chip and that’s something we’ve got to do better with.”

The defense that had proven to be strong in the first game Saturday had early blunders, with errors by Jasmine Sievers at shortstop and Rachel Cid at third to allow four unearned runs, letting down freshman walk on pitcher Kailey Krueger, who was handed the loss.

The runs resulted in a pitching change with one out in the first inning and Oregon trailing 4-0, which brought senior center fielder Haley Cruse into the circle for the first time in her collegiate career — she said she last pitched in a game when she was 13.

“I was really nervous,” Cruse said. “I thought I was going to poop my pants.”

Cruse’s time in the circle was short lived, as she surrendered an RBI single and was promptly replaced by Dail.

Once again, the Oregon ace pitched well, striking out five and allowing four hits in 6.2 innings of relief. In the third, Dail recorded her 200th strikeout of the season and is now just one strikeout shy of the Oregon top-10 for most strikeouts in a single season. Dail didn’t allow a single run in the 20.2 innings against the Bears.

“As a defense and offense, we get pumped up seeing her like this,” Bunker said.

The Ducks will play a doubleheader against Portland State on Tuesday evening at Jane Sanders Stadium before they host a series against Oregon State starting April 26. With their recent form, the Ducks are building confidence about a postseason berth.

“We are in a postseason run so all these little wins count,” Cruse said. “We need to make sure we come out and take as many series as possible for the rest of the season.”

Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow