TEMPE, Ariz. – DJ Sanders hit two home runs and drove in four runs and both Shannon Rhodes and Gwen Svekis homered for the third time in as many games to open the 2018 season as the third-ranked Oregon softball team run-ruled Cal State Northridge, 15-6, in six innings on Friday at the Tempe Sports Complex.
The Ducks (3-0), who are averaging more than 10 runs per game through their first three contests, have started the season 3-0 for the fourth straight year and will continue with the Kajikawa Classic on Saturday with a pair of games.
How it Happened: Senior Lauren Lindvall got the Ducks on the scoreboard in the second inning, driving a two-run double to center field. After a third run scored on a passed ball, Alexis Mack ripped a triple down the left-field line to score Lindvall and give Oregon an early 4-0 advantage.
Svekis continued her power surge to open the season in the third inning, driving a two-run home run out to center to make it 6-0, Ducks. Freshman Mary Iakopo extended the lead to 7-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Not to be outdone by Svekis, Rhodes mashed her third home run of the early season in the fourth inning. Mack reached on a single with one out and scored on an RBI single by Jenna Lilley, and Rhodes followed with a two-run blast of her own to center field to push Oregon to double-digits, 10-0.
CSUN (0-1) fought back with four runs in the top of the fifth to avoid the five-inning run-rule, setting the stage for Sanders' impressive power display.
Sanders, the senior shortstop who led the nation in home runs and RBIs last year at Louisiana, hit a solo blast to left field in the bottom of the fifth for her first home run as a Duck. After two CSUN runs in the sixth and another Iakopo sacrifice fly in the bottom half, Sanders crushed a three-run bomb to left field and the Ducks walked off with a 15-6 victory.
At the Plate: Sanders finished 2-for-3 with the two home runs and led UO with four RBIs, while Rhodes finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Svekis went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs. All three Ducks finished with three runs scored. Lindvall and Mack both ended up with two-hit days with Lindvall also driving in two.
The Ducks continue to take quality at-bats early in the season, drawing five walks with just one strikeout against CSUN. Through three games, Oregon has just four strikeouts while racking up 15 walks and four hit-by-pitches.
In the Circle: Maggie Balint (1-0) was terrific through the first four innings, allowing just three baserunners, before running into trouble in the fifth. The sophomore ended up allowing six runs, five earned, over 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk before giving way to Miranda Elish, who recorded a strikeout to end the top of the sixth.
Up Next: Oregon has three games remaining in the Kajikawa Classic, with two set for Saturday. The Ducks will take on Missouri at 10:30 a.m. PT (Farrington Stadium) on Pac-12 Networks before facing UTEP at 6:45 p.m. PT at the Temp Sports Complex.
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