OKLAHOMA CITY — Oregon's bats went quiet for the second day in a row Saturday night, and thus ended the Ducks' stay in the Women's College World Series a game short of the semifinal round.
After opening the series by pounding out 11 runs in a win over Arizona State, the Pac-12 champion Ducks (53-10) managed just three in the pair of losses that eliminated them from the double-elimination portion of the tournament. That included a 4-1 loss Saturday to Florida State, denying the Ducks a chance to extend their season into the semifinals for the second year in a row.
"I mentioned to the team, we were hoping that the Pac-12 wins this week," UO coach Mike White said. "And if it happens, I think being the Pac-12 champs and having beaten those teams over the course of the season shows how really good we can be when we play Oregon softball. But unfortunately this week, we weren't at our best.
"We're working hard to try and find that secret to find what it takes to bust through that door. Because we certainly have the ability to be better than what we're doing right now. And that's what hurts."
Like in Friday's loss to Washington, the UO softball team had an early chance Saturday. Haley Cruse and Lauren Burke singled with one out in the second inning, but were left stranded on base. The Ducks also squandered a leadoff single in the fourth by Shannon Rhodes.
Florida State was more opportunistic. Down 0-2 in the count to lead off the top of the third, Cali Harrod worked a walk off UO starter Miranda Elish (25-2) and scored two batters later on an RBI double by Elizabeth Mason, who also fought out of an 0-2 hole.
In the fifth, Oregon saw a repeat of Friday's struggles on the infield. After a leadoff single, the Ducks didn't cover third base on a bunt and FSU put runners on the corners. Mason followed with a single off shortstop DJ Sanders' glove, and it was 2-0.
Megan Kleist entered at that point and set down three Seminoles in a row to escape the jam. A walk, an error and a long single brought in a run off Kleist in the sixth; Maggie Balint entered, and also retired three straight to end a threat.
Those relief efforts kept the game close, and Oregon mounted a late rally for the second night in a row. In this case, it yielded a run in the sixth on a two-out double by Cruse that scored Rhodes, who had reached on an error. The Seminoles answered with a solo homer in the top of the seventh.
Saturday's game was the last in a UO uniform for seniors Jenna Lilley, Gwen Svekis, Lauren Lindvall and Sanders. Lilley, Svekis and Lindvall finished their four-year careers with three Pac-12 titles and three Women's College World Series appearances.
"It hurts right now," Svekis said. "But I'm very proud of my career and my four years, and I'm very proud to be a Duck. If we had come out and played the way I know we can, we wouldn't be going home tonight. That really hurts."
Courtesy: UO Athletics