NCAA Softball Regionals: Round 1 Recap
Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports Editor
And just like that we’re down to 16 teams. With a 4-1 victory over BYU on Saturday the Oregon Ducks softball team advanced to the Super Regionals for the second year in-a-row and is one step closer to its’ goal of reaching the College World Series.
“I feel like this year out of any, we’re really rolling into (super regionals) well,” said pitcher Jessica Moore, the anchor of the team, who improved her record to 30-12 with the win. “I feel like we’re a little more prepared. We’re better all-around as a team.”
The No. 11 Oregon Ducks have been absolutely lights out all season long will travel to Austin to take on the No. 6 Texas Longhorns in a best two-of-three playoff format. Oregon would have hosted the Super Regionals if any other team besides Texas had advanced.
This Ducks team has a lot of comparisons to last years’, but the players are hoping to end on a better note.
“This year we’re rolling into it better than before,” said Moore. “Some of us have been to Super Regionals the past two years. We’re going to show up and expect to win. We’re not just going to be happy to be there.”
With the Ducks advancing, the Portland State Vikings, Mississippi State Bulldogs and BYU Cougars are eliminated from contention. Texas went 4-1 in the Austin Region while eliminating the Northwestern Wildcats, Houston Cougars and Auburn Tigers.
Texas finished tied for third place in the Big-12 with a record of 46-11 (16-8). Only the Oklahoma Sooners and Missouri Tigers posted a better conference record than the Longhorns.
Texas relies on senior Lexie Bennett who leads the team with a .415 batting average, 55 RBI and 123 total bases. Bennett also has an impressive 12 home runs on the season, adding power to her speed.
The matchup of Moore and Bennett will be a deciding factor of which team advances to the College World Series.
Oregon will have an advantage being the only team to finish a day early, winning its region on Saturday, while Texas did not win its region until Sunday.
“It exciting to be done one day earlier,” said Head Coach Mike White. “To sit back and watch everyone else fight for it.”
While Oregon has an advantage in an extra day of rest and preperation, there is no overlooking the added benefit the Longhorns will have in playing host in the Super Regionals.
Oregon has been much more effective at home, and will need to muster up an extra effort to bring down Texas.
“That energy we can feel it in the dugout,” said White about the home fieldat Howe Field. “We use it as an eleventh player, if you will.”
Eugene Daily News will bring you analysis on the Ducks’ Super Regional with Texas next weekend.