The Jane Sanders crowd rose to its feet. Oregon pitcher Megan Kleist had retired all 20 batters she had faced. Drake’s Macy Johnson came to the plate for the third time of the game, and on the first pitch, the lefty smacked a line drive into dead center field, breaking up Kleist’s perfect game.
“It kind of sucks, obviously,” Kleist said. “That’s what good teams do, they capitalize on their mistakes and I happened to make a mistake and they hit it.”
No. 1 Oregon softball still went on to win 5-0 over Drake in the second game of the Eugene Regional on Friday. Kleist faced 23 total batters, striking out 11, and the Oregon offense was led by back-to-back home runs from freshmen Lauren Burke and Mary Iakopo.
Oregon’s power erupted in a pair of home runs by Burke and Iakopo in the fifth inning. After Gwen Svekis walked, Lauren Burke pinch hit for the second day in a row. And again, she delivered a two-run shot over the right-center field wall.
“I said to the person next to me, ‘I dare her to do it again,’” Kleist said. “She always comes up in big moments for us.”
While the dust settled from the Eugene native’s strike, Iakopo launched a solo shot to left field to give Oregon the comfortable 5-0 lead.
The Ducks managed to get moving offensively in the first inning as Lilley led off with a single. A one-out walk for DJ Sanders gave Oregon a chance to score early. It did, but rather unconventionally.
Shannon Rhodes popped up a swing toward the edge of the infield behind Drake second baseman Kennedy Frank, who called off the rush of two outfielders. But, Frank lost the ball in the sun, and when she tried to readjust to make the catch, she fell and the ball smacked off the outfield turf, allowing Lilley to race home from second for the opening run.
“Sometimes you need some breaks,” White said. “We’ve been on the other side of the coin too. Those are some of the breaks that you probably need to continue, to keep going forward.”
Despite hits in the next two innings, the Ducks could not manage to score until the fourth inning when Lilley ripped a line drive into the sunny outfield, sending Haley Cruse home from first.
“I call her ‘Miss May,’ and I think she’s doing a great job,” White said of Lilley.
The Ducks now have to wait to see who their next opponent will be after the two elimination games following theirs on Friday. With a win during the 4 p.m. game on Saturday, the Ducks would clinch a spot in the Super Regional for the team’s ninth straight year.
“Right now we just need to sit back and by the end of the night there will be one team left and we should have some good stuff on any one of those teams left,” White said.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow