After playing their first 25 games away from their home confines of Howe Field, the University of Oregon softball team finally returned to open up the park with two games against the New Mexico Lobos in double-header fashion.
Ranked No. 9 in the nation, Oregon used key innings and stellar pitching to secure the sweep on the afternoon, winning the first game 10-0 and the second 4-0.
The Ducks got things going right off the bat in the first contest, plating four runs in the first inning after Jessica Moore allowed just one hit in her half of the inning. After Courtney Ceo reached first on a perfectly executed bunt and subsequently advanced to second on a steal, Janie Takeda grounded out while advancing Ceo to third. Oregon’s leadoff hitter would then come around to score on a throwing error by New Mexico’s first baseman.
The Ducks would score their next runs of the inning on a double by Alexa Peterson, who plated Kailee Cuico and Samantha Pappas. Peterson would eventually score on a single by Jamie Ray Sullivan after she had previously advanced to third.
Of Oregon’s four runs in the inning, only two of them were earned.
Those would be all the runs they would need, too, as Moore had one of her best outings of the season, giving up just one hit in the first over the course of six innings. In fact, Moore was just one walk away from throwing a perfect five innings to closeout the game. As it would stand, however, the talented pitcher finished the game after pitching six innings while adding one hit, one walk, and one strikeout to her stats on the night.
And though the Ducks already had a comfortable lead with Moore on the mound, they tacked on three more in both the fifth and sixth innings, extending Oregon’s lead to 10 and allowing the game to be shortened due to the mercy rule. The game was ended with the Ducks dealing a crushing blow, as Takeda crushed a home run that plated Karine Shaver and Allie Burger to signal the game’s end.
The same story, of Oregon using their strong pitching staff combined with big scoring innings to hold back the Lobos, would play out in the second game as well.
This time sending Cheridan Hawkins to the mound, the Ducks were looking for the freshman to continue her impressive start to her career. And she did exactly that.
Throwing a total of 6 1/3 innings, Hawkins was nearly perfect as she allowed just one hit, one walk, and two hit batters while striking out 13 en route to her eighth victory of the season. She has only lost one game during the early course of her career, a 12-0 loss to then-No. 2 Oklahoma, a game in which she surrendered 10 runs with seven of them earned.
Pitching cleanup duty for the Ducks against the Lobos in the final 2/3 innings was Karissa Hovinga, who retired the final two batters to give the Ducks a 4-0 victory.
Oregon scored all of their runs in the fourth inning, allowing Ceo, Howard, Cuico, and Pappas to all cross the plate. The Ducks collected eight hits on the night, with six of them coming in Oregon’s four-run fourth.
Oregon will now take the next two days off before Stanford comes to town for a three game series that will begin on Saturday at Howe Field. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm.