Oregon Postgame Press Conference:
Courtesy: Oregon Sports Information
EUGENE, Ore.– EUGENE – The #3 NCAA seed University of Oregon softball team (50-11) saw its record-breaking season come to an end Sunday with a 4-2 loss to #14 seed Nebraska (45-14) in the NCAA Super Regional finale.
The Big Ten Runners-up now look forward to their sixth-ever World Series invitation, while the Pac-12 champion Ducks fell one win shy of a third trip to the Oklahoma City event after bids in 2012 and 1989.
In front of an ESPNU TV audience and sell-out Howe Field crowd Sunday afternoon (1,794), the two teams both scored a pair of runs in the first inning, before the Huskers added another run in both the third and sixth innings.
Scoring in the opening stanza for the second straight game, Nebraska converted on three straight one-out singles, and an error by the second baseman for two runs.
The Ducks’ lead-off hitters – sophomore Janie Takeda and junior Courtney Ceo – responded with a pair of singles in the bottom half of the first inning, and freshman catcher Janelle Lindvall walked to load the bases.
Senior center right fielder and All-American Samantha Pappas followed with a 2-RBI single to center field to up her school career RBI record to 155.
UO threatened to score more in the first inning after junior DP Alexa Peterson beat out a sacrifice bunt to again load the bases with one out. However, a pop-up to the pitcher and strikeout ended the threat.
Nebraska went back ahead in the third inning after a pair of two-out singles and a double by Salem, Ore., product Hailey Decker.
Another double by Decker in the sixth inning led to the Huskers’ final run after a sacrifice bunt and single.
The Ducks stranded seven runners for the game, including single runners in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
Takeda tried to lead a seventh-inning comeback with a single to left field to open the inning, but a fielder’s choice and double play ended the game. The 5-4-3 final play was the fifth double play of the series for the national leader who entered the weekend averaging 0.81 per game.
For the game, three Ducks posted multiple hits – Ceo (3-for-4), Pappas (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Takeda (2-for-4).
Combining stats from both of Sunday’s gams, Pappas also added the school career hits record to her name (238) and passed former great Julie Cavanaugh (234).
In the circle, Oregon starter and All-America senior Jessica Moore (27-6) pitched the first three innings, struck out one, walked none, gave up seven hits, and two of her three runs allowed were earned.
Hawkins pitched the last four innings, struck out two, walked none, and yielded two hits and one earned run.
In her first appearance of the Super Regional, Nebraska starter Emily Lockman (15-5) struck out five, walked one, yielded eight hits, and two earned runs.
Offensively for the Huskers, Decker went 2-for-3 with her pair of doubles, and six others hit safely once.
Earlier in the series, Nebraska won the opener, 5-2, on Saturday to finally blemish Oregon’s previous 16-0 game home mark in 2013.
In Sunday’s second game of the series, UO scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and 11th innings to eventually win, 4-3, in its first extra-inning tilt of the year.
In that middle contest, the All-Pac-12 First-Team pitcher Hawkins (19-5) got the win after she struck out 11 batters, walked none, and allowed two hits in her seven innings of relief.
“Nebraska played fantastic the whole series,” Oregon head coach Mike White said. “This wasn’t the result we wanted, but I’m very proud of our ladies. We had another sellout crowd, and they will certainly miss an amazing senior class that left a legacy that will never be forgotten.”
Making their fourth straight Super Regional appearance (and ever), UO closed the book on a season that featured its first-ever Pac-12 title with a 19-5 league mark – three games better than WCWS advancers Arizona State and Washington.
On the individual front, a record six Ducks won All-Region laurels, and 17 players landed on various All-Pac-12 Teams.
Among those honors, Moore became UO’s second-ever Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. She capped her career with school records for wins (100), strikeouts (915), appearances (176) and innings (903), and also ranked top five in shutouts (fourth, 19) and complete games (fifth, 77).
Fellow senior Kaylan Howard also etched her name into the Duck records books this season as a career record holder for homers (37), and likewise stood top 10 in career doubles (second, 40), runs (fourth, 146), RBI (fifth, 141) and hits (ninth, 199).