The spring season comes to a sprint this weekend for the University of Oregon as teams across the board suit up and return to the field. For Duck fans, there’s a little bit of everything, whether your calling is on the diamond at Autzen or even on the soccer field. To help sort through the excitement and influx of scores and players that we’ll likely hear over the next few days, here’s a rundown of what to watch and what to expect:
It’s been over three months since we last saw the Ducks take the field and for many football fans, that means it’s been too long. Fortunately, admission is free for fans at Autzen Stadium this Saturday to get a sneak peek of who will wear the yellow and green this fall. The format of the game will be different than previous years, however, with an offense versus defense matchup rather than even teams. While it may not be the most exciting game to watch for spectators, the main attraction will still likely be the quarterback competition. Marcus Mariota is the clear starter for this season but freshmen Jake Rodrigues and Jeff Lockie will be looking for an edge in their battle for the second string spot. Saturday will also mark the first appearance of Mark Helfrich on the field as head coach. Overall, for those in need of a football fix before September, the spring game will certainly serve as water in a drought.
The No. 13 Oregon baseball team isn’t to be forgotten among the Autzen crowd, for just across the way at PK Park, the squad will be facing off against Stanford in a three game conference series. The Ducks (30-10) are coming off a non-conference victory against the Portland Pilots in which they were able to put 11 runs on the board. The victory comes after the Ducks dropped two in their last home series against the UCLA Bruins and lost their stronghold on the Pac-12. That bats have been rather cold for the Ducks, who have ran into trouble leaving runners on base, but with a confidence boost and a few at-bats in the city up north, perhaps the team is ready to turn things around. The bullpen has been successful and leaders like Brett Thomas and Scott Heineman have picked up the slack when Oregon runs into trouble. One things for certain, the Stanford (9-6) series could be a turning point in Oregon’s conference fate. The series starts at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Women’s soccer is also on the docket for a spring showcase. The girls’ team already has two exhibition games under their belt, including 7-1 win against Southern Oregon and a 1-0 loss on the road to the Washington Huskies. On Saturday, the Ducks will host Oregon State at Pape Field, to continue a test run of changes made in the offseason. Such changes include new head coach Kat Hertz, who joins the team after Oregon concluded last season at 8-10-2. Hertz brings a plethora of international coaching experience and currently is an assistant coach for the women’s U-23 national team. Despite the changes, the Ducks have the luxury of returning several players including Maryn Beutler and Kristin Parr, who serves as the team’s offensive spark.
Samantha Saldivar is on Twitter. Follow her at @SammySaldivar