NCAA Softball: Oregon strikes first in regional action

Turns out a first-inning home run was all Jessica Moore needed. Facing BYU in the regionals for the second consecutive season, Oregon used an Alexa Peterson three-run round-tripper in the first and scratched out insurance runs in the fourth and fifth to defeat BYU 5-2 Thursday evening in Eugene. The win places the Quacks in a bout with North Carolina on Friday to determine one spot in the regional championship.

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Oregon scored three runs without hitting into an out against BYU starter Tori Almond, who was called for multiple illegal pitches and left the circle without retiring a single Duck. Peterson's 13th home run sailed over the left field fence, and it looked like it would be smooth sailing from there.

Not so fast. Hannah Howell replaced Almond and quickly cooled down the Ducks, eventually striking out eight over six innings of work. The Cougars then struck right back in the next half inning via a Carly Duckworth two-run single to cut the lead to 3-2 after 1.5 innings.

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That would be all the scoring offense for the Cougs, however, as pitcher Jessica Moore scatted seven hits over seven innings and did not give up more than one hit in an inning after BYU's two-run second. She also fanned 12 hitters (a season high and two off her career high of 14) and did some damage at the plate herself, getting a hit and walking with the bases load to give the Ducks a 5-2 lead in the fifth. Third baseman Courtney Ceo's sac-fly was responsible for the Ducks' other run, making it 4-2 in the fourth.

While the first-time Pac-12 champs look to improve to 2-0 in regional play with a win over North Carolina, the Cougars play Wisconsin in an elimination game.

Regional play continues tomorrow when the other seven qualifying Pac-12 teams (Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington) take the field all over the country.

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