This Saturday, Eugene will be the site of a NCAA softball Super Regional, where the #3 seeded Oregon Ducks will face the #14 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Ducks are coming off a successful regional showing in which they hosted BYU, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Oregon went 3-0 in their first postseason appearance of 2013 to achieve their fourth straight regional series victory. Now as the Pac-12 champions get ready to host the Huskers, their path to the Women’s College World Series becomes more rigorous.
While Oregon boasts top pitching and a top seed, the Huskers bring accolades of their own. This season, Nebraska has beat four top-25 teams, including No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 9 Michigan and No. 23 Florida State. It’s worth mentioning Oregon lost to Oklahoma 0-12 at the beginning of their season in Tempe, Arizona. The Nebraska squad recently put three players on the Midwest All-Region team, including pitcher of the year Tatum Edwards. The team made the Eugene Super Regional after beating Northern Iowa and No. 13 Stanford (twice).
In their final game against Stanford, the Huskers fought against three rain delays and relied on their seniors to get the job done offensively to win 10-5. Edwards got the start in all 3 regional games and gave up 10 hits, 5 walks, and had closed with 4 strikeouts to send the Huskers to their first ever Super Regional.
This isn’t the first matchup between the Ducks and Huskers, whose history dates back to 1989. In fact, Nebraska’s head coach, Rhonda Revelle, is a Eugene native who started her career with Oregon before closing out her last three seasons with the Huskers. Nebraska holds a 6-5 edge in the all-time series, though the Ducks have won the last two games.
The Ducks got the better of the Huskers in February when they won 11-2 in Palm Springs in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Oregon’s offense was explosive in the matchup, especially for second baseman Kaylan Howard, who went 3-for-3 with 1 run and 1 RBI. Nebraska’s Edwards was charged with the loss after completing 4 innings in which she gave up 9 runs on 6 hits with 4 walks. The game ended on a mercy rule and the Ducks finished with 8 hits. In the circle, Jessica Moore recorded the win with 4 strikeouts and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits. Karissa Hovinga got the close.
With those stats in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Moore getting the starts in the Nebraska series. Coach Mike White gave the senior the nod in 2 of the 3 regional games in which she posted 2 wins and 1 save. White appears to trust Moore’s postseason experience while keeping freshman Cheridan Hawkins ready in the bullpen. Moore was the Regional MVP after allowing only 2 runs in 17 innings last weekend and posting a 1.52 ERA.
The rest of Oregon’s lineup has proven strong as well. The Ducks recently put 7 players on the regional team and are hitting .331. With their 19-0 record at home and a strong crowd at Howe Field, the squad may be well on their way to Oklahoma City.
Samantha Saldivar is on Twitter. Follow her at @SammySaldivar