Freshman Shannon Rhodes was clutch all weekend for Oregon in the Eugene Regional, going 7-for-9, scoring four runs and recording four RBIs as she earned the regional MVP.
Rhodes, Oregon’s center fielder, has been a vital all-around player for the Ducks in the latter half of the season.
“I think I’m just getting more comfortable,” Rhodes told KWVA after Oregon’s 8-0 win at Stanford on May 12. “The game’s slowing down a lot for me and I think that just comes from experience and playing the game a lot more. I credit that to our coaching staff getting me ready to come into each game knowing that the game is only as fast as you make it.”
Rhodes is on a 15-game hitting streak, which continued through the Eugene Regional where Oregon improved its regional record under head coach Mike White to 24-0. During the streak, Rhodes has a batting average of .523 that includes 17 runs scored and 20 RBIs.
Former Ducks center fielder Koral Costa was a home run machine in past years, and after she graduated last season, White adjusted the team’s offense into a small-ball oriented team.
Rhodes has hit seven home runs and collected 44 RBIs while last year, Costa, a senior, hit 10 home runs and had 46 RBIs in 22 more at bats than Rhodes.
In the Eugene Regional, Rhodes once again stepped up for the Ducks. In Oregon’s first game of the weekend, Rhodes went 3-for-3 with an RBI while scoring two runs in the Ducks’ 13-0 routing of Illinois-Chicago.
Then, she went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in Oregon’s come-from-behind win against Wisconsin. Oregon had Rhodes to thank. She batted home Gwen Svekis and Nikki Udria to tie the game with two outs in the seventh.
“My past couple at bats, I struggled with them,” Rhodes said about her game-tying double. “I just put that in the back of my mind and decided if she throws a changeup I’m going to hit it somewhere inside the field.”
Not only is her offense stellar, but her defense has been superb too. In the Ducks’ series defeat at Arizona, Rhodes made two acrobatics catches, leaping through the air to make the plays.
— David Rosen (@sciguyrosen) April 22, 2017
Rhodes began to get into her groove during Pac-12 play, and knows just how significant her play is for the team’s success.
“I think that I am trying to be as selfless as possible,” Rhodes told KWVA. “I know that me staying in the five-hole, I’m in an important role for the team— I just have to hit it. No matter how I hit it, I just have to get it through the infield, get it in the whole and get people across the plate.”
Rhodes and the Ducks take on Kentucky in the Super Regional as Oregon looks to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2015.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow