OKLAHOMA CITY — Oregon softball's quest for consecutive wins to open a Women's College World Series continues, after the Ducks lost 6-2 to Washington on Friday at Hall of Fame Stadium.
A series of miscues on the infield broke open a scoreless game in the fifth inning, after a number of missed opportunities at the plate for Oregon. The Ducks failed to complete a season sweep of the Huskies after winning three regular-season games in Seattle, and now must win three times over the weekend to reach the championship series.
Oregon (53-9) will play Saturday (6:30 p.m. PT, ESPN) against the winner of an elimination game between Georgia and Florida State earlier in the day. Win that, and the Ducks would need to win twice Sunday against Florida or UCLA to reach the three-game championship series that starts Monday.
"I've said this before, defense wins championships," UO coach Mike White said. "It can also lose championships. We did not make big plays when we needed to and they did. ... We'll bounce back. We know what we need to do; we just didn't execute today."
Lauren Lindvall's second hit of the day led off the seventh, and the Ducks finally broke through as pinch hitter April Utecht brought home a run on a fielder's choice. Gwen Svekis, celebrating her 22nd birthday Friday, made it 6-2 with a two-out, RBI single that scored fellow senior Jenna Lilley, but the rally — and the game — went no further.
Friday began as a pitcher's duel between Oregon junior Megan Kleist (21-7) and UW freshman Gabbie Plain. The Ducks got a runner to second in each of the first four innings, but some slick infield defense by the Huskies kept Oregon off the scoreboard.
For four innings, the Ducks were their match. But that changed in the fifth. After a single off shortstop DJ Sanders' glove, Lilley fielded a groundball to third and threw wide of second base trying to get the lead runner. A walk with one out loaded the bases, and the Ducks again couldn't execute a force play, with Sanders' throw home glancing off the catcher Svekis' glove.
"We could have been out of that inning," White said. "We've got to handle that first hit; we've got to make the throw home. It's a little frustrating and it puts a lot of pressure on our pitchers. Megan did a good job of making big pitches at key times, and we didn't step up behind her."
The bases still loaded with Huskies, Taylor Van Zee drove a two-run single just past diving UO first baseman Mia Camuso. Washington's Sis Bates followed by dropping an RBI single just in front of right fielder Haley Cruse, just inside fair territory for a 4-0 lead.
Oregon's inability to capitalize continued in the sixth, when Shannon Rhodes walked with two out and Cruse followed with a single. Each was stranded by UW reliever Taran Alvelo. The Ducks ended up 3-for-19 with runners on base, including 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"We knew exactly what was coming, and we didn't go after it," Svekis said. "It was very frustrating. But at the end of the day, today was more about defense than offense. ...
"When we played them there, we made the defensive plays and stopped the bleeding, and then hit their pitchers around. And today we didn't."
Washington tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth off UO reliever Miranda Elish.
Courtesy: UO Athletics