The Oregon softball team just grabbed two of its most impressive victories of the season.
The No. 5 Oregon Ducks (43-6) defeated the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (48-5-1) in both games of a doubleheader Saturday at Jane Sanders Stadium. The two victories clinch the series against a Seminoles team that was coming off a victory over the No. 1 Florida Gators. The Ducks also one step closer to clinching home field for the NCAA Super Regionals.
“We played it up like a Super Regional matchup, so it’s just great the way we came out,” head coach Mike White said.
The day started like a good dream for Oregon. The Ducks run-ruled Florida State in the first game, 11-0.
It began when the Ducks exploded in the third inning with five runs and six hits, giving them a 6-0 lead. Alexis Mack singled to left field to score Danica Mercado from third. With runners on the corners, Mack stole second, and on the throw to second, Danica Mercado stole home.
A couple pitches later, Gwen Svekis hit a home run to left field, her ninth of the season. To top off the inning, Mia Camuso singled to left to score Nikki Udria from third, and the Ducks led 6-0. The Ducks said the inning gave them life.
“We gained so much momentum in that innings,” Svekis said. “I’m happy we didn’t just settle. We kept pushing — kept stepping on the gas.”
It was déjà vu one inning later for Oregon. Again, the Ducks scored five runs on six hits. Lauren Lindvall, Jenna Lilley and Mercado all recorded RBIs in the bottom of the inning.
The Florida State defense helped Oregon’s offense throughout the game. The Seminoles committed four errors, with two of them coming in Oregon’s big innings.
Seven Ducks registered RBIs. Svekis and Lilley each had two.
The Ducks pounded Florida State pitcher Meghan King (24-2), who had a 1.62 ERA coming into the game. She allowed five runs and three hits in two innings pitched. Cassidy Davis replaced her but didn’t fair much better. She allowed eight hits, six runs and two walks in 1.2 innings pitched.
Oregon pitcher Megan Kleist (17-3) dealt throughout the game. In five innings pitched, she allowed only two hits and one walk, striking out six.
Game two of the doubleheader was dominated by pitching. Through five innings, Florida State’s Jessica Burroughs (23-3) shut out Oregon, but the Ducks managed three runs in the sixth.
Shannon Rhodes singled to start the inning. Camuso hit an RBI double to drive Rhodes in and tie the game at 1-1. Later in the inning, with runners on third and second, Lilley hit an RBI single to give Oregon a 2-1 lead.
The Ducks added one more when Florida State’s third baseman let a ground ball slip through her legs, which allowed Mercado to score from third.
Maggie Balint (18-3) pitched a complete game. She allowed three hits, one run, three walks and seven strikeouts.
Lilley was the star of the day. After a long offensive funk, she responded with three RBIs.
“To get [Lilley’s] bat going and drive some runs in and see her smile again, that’s great. I love to see that,” White said.
Game three of the series starts Sunday at 5 p.m. as Oregon tries to complete the sweep.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917