Eugene, Ore. -- This Oregon softball season was something that no one quite saw coming. Whether it be the flurry of transfers following the departure of Mike White, the injuries and transfer of pitchers midseason, or the upset wins that came after a projected 12th place finish in the Pac-12, the year was certainly a surprise.
Even with the postseason out of the picture in the first year of Melyssa Lombardi's tenure as head coach of the Ducks, a heavily freshmen laden Oregon team earned some top 10 upset wins, and hopes to do so again vs. Arizona State at Jane Sanders Stadium this weekend.
The series and season finale will also be the final time to honor seniors Cherish Burks, April Utecht and Darya Kaboli-Nejad, who stuck with the team even after a multitude of returning starters left the program.
Arizona State will present plenty of challenges, being a top 25 program nationally, but also carries a piece of intrigue, as the Sun Devils blocked the transfer of Tierra McGowan, now playing for the Ducks, forcing her to sit out of play for a season. Lombardi, when asked about that subject in her weekly media availability, believes that everything happens for a reason and no ill will is going to carry over into the game. The Ducks plan on rolling out pitcher Jordan Dail, while the injured Haley Cruse and Jasmine Sievers may still be available, even after concussion injuries sustained in the final road series vs. Utah.
On Wednesday, five Ducks were named to the All Pac-12 team as well. Jasmine Sievers was named to the first team All Pac-12, as well as All Pac-12 Freshman and Defensive teams. Along with the shortstop on the freshman team were third baseman Rachel Cid and second baseman Allie Bunker (who received a third team nod as well). Pitcher Jordan Dail and outfielder Haley Cruse were named to the second and third teams, respectively.
First pitch is on Thursday, May 9th at 5:00 p.m. at Jane Sanders Stadium and will be on the Pac-12 Network.