Oregon’s winning streak reached seven games on Friday, made possible because of some pitching heroics from Cheridan Hawkins and an unprecedented offensive explosion in one inning.
After opening up the second round of the classic with a 1-0 victor over James Madison and pitcher Jailyn Ford, the Ducks rallied with a seven-run sixth inning to defeat host Hawaii 12-4 in six innings (mercy rule). This makes the Ducks’ record 3-0 in the Pepsi Rainbow Wahine Classic.
Due to their perfect record in the classic, the Ducks enter the semifinals as the No. 1 seed and will meet the winner of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds Saturday afternoon.
Oregon 1, James Madison 0
Two of the best pitchers in the classic met on Friday evening and didn’t disappoint. Hawkins and Ford were teammates on the USA Junior National Softball team over the summer and for the first time in their careers, they met as opposing starting pitchers.
Hawkins won the duel, giving up no runs and just three hits with five strikeouts, while Ford threw 6.1 innings and gave up one run (unearned) and eight hits with four strikeouts. @@ facts checked @@
The game wasn’t the most action-packed, but the pressure was intense as the game went scoreless through the first six innings. Oregon had seven hits in the first six frames but were unable to get something going because of a strong defensive effort by the Dukes. Likewise, the Oregon defense helped keep Hawkins out of trouble by committing no errors.
After Hawkins threw a scoreless seventh inning, the Ducks came to bat in the bottom half of the inning with a chance to win it.
Nikki Udria led off the inning with a double to get things going. After a popout by the next batter, Udria took things into her own hands and stole third base with one out. As she was sliding into third base, the James Madison catcher overthrew the third baseman and that allowed Udria to advance to the plate and score the winning run.
Alyssa Gillespie had her second straight three-hit game (3-for-3), while Kailee Cuico went 2-for-3.
OREGON 12 – Hawaii 4 (6 innings)
After being held to 11 runs over the past four games (2.75 runs per game), the Ducks’ offense erupted in a big win over Hawaii.
Gillespie and Cuico added to their good games earlier in the day with a huge performances against Hawaii. Gillespie went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored while Cuico went 2-for-3 with five RBI and two runs scored. Also, Courtney Ceo (2-for-5, two runs scored), Janie Takeda (3-for-4, two runs scored) and hometown player Karine Shaver (2-for-3) helped add to Oregon’s 15-hit barrage. @@ facts checked @@
Karissa Hovinga got the start on the mound and struggled for the most part, pitching 3.2 innings and giving up four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Jasmine Smithson-Willett came in to replace Hovinga and calmed things down, holding Hawaii’s offense to no runs with just one hit over the final 2.1 innings. @@ facts checked @@
The Rainbow Wahine struck first in the bottom of the second inning when designated player Ulu Matagiese smashed a ball deep over the centerfield fence for an early 3-0 lead.
Oregon wasn’t down for long as it responded with four runs in the top of the third inning.
Starting at the top of the lineup, Ceo and Gillespie both singled to put runners at first and second and advanced to second and third on a flyout and a groundout. While the rally might have ended there, Alexa Peterson hit a single up the middle that scored Ceo and Gillespie and cut the Ducks’ deficit to one. Cuico was the next batter to come to the plate and promptly drilled a 1-2 pitch over the left field fence to give the Ducks one run lead.
Hawaii tied the game in the fourth inning with a single run while the Ducks regained the lead for good with a run in the fifth inning to take a 5-4 lead.
Gillespie helped Oregon blow the game wide open in the sixth inning when she started the scoring rally with a three-run home run that scored Udria and Ceo with no outs still. Takeda kept the rally going with a single and then stole second base. She would eventually end up on third base after Peterson and Janelle Lindvall both walked to load the bases for Cuico.
Cuico missed a grand slam by a mere foot, hitting the pitch off the top of the fence. She had to settle for a double, but the hit scored two to make the score 10-4. Shaver came to bat next and singled to score Lindvall while Jamie Rae Sullivan pinch-hit next and hit a sacrifice fly that scored Cuico and set the final score at 12-4.
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