EUGENE, Ore. — Cheridan Hawkins’ freshman campaign for the Duck softball team has been nothing short of impressive.
“I don’t know if it’s luck or what, but we threw her into the deep end of the pool and she started swimming,” Oregon head coach Mike White said.
Hawkins (17-4) is fourth in the Pac-12 with 192 strikeouts in 121 innings of work. She also boasts a miniscule 1.56 earned run average.
But Hawkins almost never became a Duck.
Her then coach, Pat Dempsey, e-mailed White with a video clip of Hawkins suggesting he take a look. White was impressed, but was done with his recruiting class for that year and had no more scholarships available.
“[Dempsey] got back to me and said, ‘Hey, I still think you need to take a look at her,’” White said.
“He sent me some more video of her and I thought, wow, this is incredible.”
“It happened so fast,” Cheridan Hawkins said. “It was like, no, no and then it was like okay we’re coming. And it was just like, this is my opportunity.”
Hawkins seized the opportunity shortly thereafter earning a scholarship offer after a spot opened up.
Now she makes up half of a lethal 1-2 punch in the Ducks’ rotation along with senior Jessica Moore, who has been a mentor for Hawkins.
“She is a great leader on and off the field,” Hawkins said. “She’s always a go-getter and she works really hard when she pitches and I just look up to that.”
“It’s definitely a big sister/little sister type of feel,” Jessica Moore said. “She’s a great individual, really fun to be around. She’s a jokester, will make you laugh.”
But little sister has also been a big help to big sister.
Over the course of the Ducks’ 63 games last season, Moore pitched just over 303 innings. Through the team’s first 52 games this season, she’s pitched just 159.2 innings.
“It took me a little bit to honestly realize that I’m going to do better not throwing as many innings,” Moore said.
“Jess has been able to be a lot fresher both mentally and physically,” White said. “It’s just made a big difference for us because Cheridan’s proven she’s been able to beat the best teams in the Pac-12 and we don’t have to start Jess three days in a row.”
Instead, Hawkins and Moore compliment each other.
“We’re just such opposites,” Moore said. “I throw a hard down ball with a good changeup. [Cheridan] throws something that really throws people off after coming off of seeing me.”
Ultimately, that could be the difference between the Ducks getting to the College World Series like last year and possibly winning a national championship this season.