OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – In a duel with national player of the year, Florida State pitcher Lacey Waldrup, Oregon lefthander Cheridan Hawkins and the Ducks came out on top, with a 3-0 win in their first game of the Women’s College World Series.
The top-ranked Ducks (55-7-1), who set a program record for victories in a season, advanced to face Florida on Friday (4 p.m. PT, ESPN2). The then-No. 1 Gators beat Oregon, 2-1 in eight innings, in the preseason.
After giving up a leadoff single to Florida State’s first team All-America shortstop, Maddie O’Brien, Hawkins forced a groundout before walking Courtney Senas to put two runners on.
A mound visit from head coach Mike White, who had done the same to focus Hawkins in the second Super Regional game against Minnesota, worked wonders as Hawkins struck out the next batter before escaping the first inning with a groundout.
“There is no kid on this team that doesn’t want it more than Cheridan,” White said. “She loves having the weight on her shoulders and carries it extremely well.”
Hawkins, a fellow first team All-America choice of Waldrup’s, was untouchable following the first inning. The sophomore retired 16 straight batters before Florida State put a runner on with two outs in the sixth following an Oregon error.
Hawkins (34-4) picked up the win and her 12th shutout of the season after allowing no runs on one hit with six strikeouts. The single hit was the fewest for FSU this season, having never been held to less than three hits in a game previously.
“The offense and defense pick me up continuously and when I get the opportunity to help out and do my part it’s what I like to do,” Hawkins said.
With Hawkins in a dominating groove, the Oregon offense played small ball to slowly build a lead.
The Ducks smacked 10 hits off Waldrup, tied for the most the FSU pitcher has ever allowed. The Seminoles made a pitching change in the sixth inning after a leadoff bunt single by Sammie Puentes.
Oregon jumped out to an early, 1-0, lead in the first inning. Alyssa Gillespie and Janie Takeda hit back-to-back singles and Gillespie scored on a Janelle Lindvall groundout.
The Ducks manufactured another run in the second inning. Alexa Peterson started the second with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Karine Shaver. That brought up freshman Nikki Udria, who came through with a big two-out single to score Peterson from second.
Oregon came through with another two-out run, this time in the fifth, to make it 3-0. With the bases clear, Koral Costa ripped a double down the left field line. Peterson followed with a double to nearly the same place, scoring Costa from second.
“Our offense started early, put the pressure on and came through with big hits, especially the lower half of the order,” White said. “They came through for us today.”
NOTES: Cheridan Hawkins retired 16-straight batters after a one-out walk in the first inning…The Ducks’ 55 wins is a new program record…Oregon won its first game at the WCWS for the first time in program history…Oregon is now 3-4 all-time at the WCWS…The shutout against Florida State is Oregon’s second ever at the WCWS. The Ducks also shutout South Carolina, 1-0, in the second game of the 1989 WCWS in Sunnyvale, Calif.