Fresh off its best offensive performance in a Women’s College World Series game, the No. 1 Oregon softball team was silenced for the first six innings of its 6-2 loss to No. 5 Washington.
Although Oregon swept Washington in the regular season, the Huskies won the game that mattered most. Washington defeated two-time defending champion Oklahoma yesterday and looked to continue its hot postseason by defeating the top-seeded rival. Washington capitalized on Oregon’s defensive lapses with quality contact partnered with good base running.
“Today was more on our defense than it was on our offense,” Gwen Svekis told the media. “Yes, our offense didn’t play up to its abilities, but our defense is what let us down.”
Megan Kleist made her first start since May 24, when she lost 9-6 to Kentucky in the Super Regional.
Friday, things were different, as she came out strong, not allowing a run through the first four innings. However, it ultimately ended when Washington scored thanks to some well-placed hits and a couple wide throws by the Ducks.
“We’ve got to play better,” head coach Mike White told the media. “We should have been out of that inning. It’s a little frustrating and puts a lot of pressure on our pitchers. … We’ve just simply got to get better in key situations.”
The Huskies ultimately scored four runs, but only one of those runners reached base via a hit. The Ducks failed to get an out on two different fielder’s choices. The inning also included a rare Kleist walk, which later ended up scoring.
“Obviously I didn’t make the best pitches when I needed to,” Kleist said in the postgame press conference. “I could have gotten out of that easily by obviously not letting them get on base. You can’t give up walks because normally it comes back to bite you, and that’s what it did today.”
The winning pitcher was Washington’s Gabbie Plain, who also had the win over Oklahoma. The Australian freshman pitched the first five innings and the last one, allowing four hits and walking three.
Oregon had an earlier chance to get some runs back in the top of the sixth. Shannon Rhodes and Haley Cruse reached base with two outs, bringing postseason hero Lauren Burke to the plate with a chance to make the score 4-3. Washington reliever Taran Alvelo escaped the jam, getting the Burke to ground out for the third time on the day.
After the Huskies tacked on two more runs against Miranda Elish, Oregon made one last effort to tie the game in the seventh. The Ducks scored two and got the tying run into the on-deck circle, however; the game ended when Rhodes grounded to shortstop Sis Bates, who wisely ran into DJ Sanders, ending the game on a runner’s interference.
The Ducks will play the winner of Florida State and Georgia tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. Oregon defeated both teams earlier this season and will continue to game plan throughout the night on both opponents.
“We’ve just got to be ready,” White told the media.
Follow Maverick Pallack on Twitter @mavpallack