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Softball Opens Season Friday vs. Cal Poly

Feb 6, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon softball team has its sights set on Oklahoma City as the Ducks open the 2014 season on Friday at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.

Head coach Mike White and the Ducks will battle Cal Poly at 11 a.m. on Friday before meeting Fresno State at 1:30 p.m. Oregon will then meet Appalachian State (2 p.m.) and N.C. State (3:30 p.m.) on Saturday before closing out the tournament at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday against Boise State.

Live stats will be available on the softball schedule at game time.

With an 8-0 win over rival Oregon State on May 5, Oregon clinched its first ever Pac-12 title with a weekend still remaining in conference play. On Senior Day at Howe Field, the Ducks celebrated in front of a sold out 1,253 fans. Oregon went 19-5 in league play and 50-11 overall, hosting both regionals and super regionals.

Oregon’s No. 3 spot in the final regular season rankings of both polls were the Ducks’ highest ever in program history. Oregon ended up ninth in both polls after falling to Nebraska in the super regionals. Under head coach Mike White, the Ducks have been ranked for 59 straight weeks in the Softball poll and 52 weeks in a row in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

Head coach Mike White guided the Ducks to their second ever 50-win season in 2013. Oregon’s 50-11 overall record included a 20-2 mark at Howe Field in the regular season and a 4-2 overall postseason record. The UO record for wins is 54, coming on a 54-18 record in 1989. That was the first time Oregon reached the Women’s College World Series. The Ducks went 17-10 against top-25 foes last year and posted a 28-10 mark against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon tied for the national lead with both four All-Americans and six all-region choices. Jessica Moore (1st team), Alexa Peterson (1st), Janie Takeda (1st) and Kaylan Howard (3rd) were all named NFCA All-Americans while those four plus Cheridan Hawkins and Courtney Ceo picked up All-Pacific Region honors.

In the premier awards, Oregon pitcher Jessica Moore was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Alexa Peterson was the Pac-12 Batting Champion after hitting a league-best .442 and Mike White was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year. In addition, a school record six players (Moore, Courtney Ceo, Cheridan Hawkins, Kaylan Howard, Alexa Peterson and Janie Takeda) were named first-team all-conference while one more (Samantha Pappas) picked up second-team honors and three more (Koral Costa, Kailee Cuico and Janelle Lindvall) were honorable mention. The Ducks also placed three players (Hawkins, Costa and Lindvall) on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team with one more (Danica Mercado) earning honorable mention all-freshman.

In addition to their on-field success, the Ducks soared to new heights in the classroom as well. Cheridan Hawkins, Danica Mercado, Koral Costa and Jessica Moore were all named to the NFCA Scholar-Athlete Team in 2013. Six more platyers - Peterson, Courtney Ceo, Alyssa Gillespie, Sara Goodrum and Janie Takeda - picked up Pac-12 All-Academic honors.

Normally when a team loses a two-time All-America pitcher, the following season will be a rebuilding year in the circle. Not so for the Ducks, who lost starting pitcher Jessica Moore following the 2013 season but return sophomore Cheridan Hawkins, who pitched just 60 fewer innings (140.1) than Moore (200.2) last year. Despite fewer innings, Hawkins actually talliled more strikeouts (212) than Moore (197). Hawkins posted a team-best 1.55 ERA to go with a 19-5 record in her freshman season. She tossed five complete games while starting 19 and she made 39 total appearances. The Ducks also bring back pitcher Karissa Hovinga (1.62 ERA in 56.0 innings) and welcome newcomer Jasmine Smithson-Willett, who could also see time in the field. The transfer had a similar role at Louisville last season. Smithson-Willett played with the SoCal Athletics club team in high school, the same squad that produced current Oregon sophomore Danica Mercado.

Oregon loses just two regular field starters (Sam Pappas and Kaylan Howard (min. 40 starts)) and one pitcher (Jessica Moore) off last season’s record-setting squad. In fact, this season’s roster features just seven upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) out of 19 total players.

The Ducks were ranked in the top-15 in many statistical categories last season. Oregon ranked fourth (.845) in win-loss percentage, fifth (1.58) in ERA, sixth (.538) in slugging percentage, ninth (.332) in batting average, 12th (1.36 per game) in home runs and 13th (6.31 per game) in runs scored. Individually, Cheridan Hawkins ranked second in the nation in hits allowed (3.14 per seven innings), fourth in strikeouts (10.8 per seven innings) and fourth in saves (6). Jessica Moore was 18th in ERA (1.52) and 20th in wins (27). As for hitters, Alexa Peterson ranked seventh in on-base percentage (.557), 12th in batting (.453) and 14th in slugging percentage (.844). Janie Takeda checked in at 14th in batting average (.448).

Oregon led the Pac-12 in six statistical categories last season. The Ducks were the top team in stolen bases (82) while also leading the league in ERA (1.64), opponent batting average (.192), batters struck out (456), hits allowed (283) and walks allowed (96). The Ducks had three different players lead the Pac-12 in statistical categories last season. Janie Takeda paced the Pac-12 in batting average (.442), stolen bases (31) and hits (92) while Alexa Peterseon led the league with a .557 slugging percentage. Cheridan Hawkins was tops in the Pac-12 in saves (6), opponent batting average (.128) and relief appearances (20).

Oregon set program bests in home runs (80), team batting average (.329), runs scored (366) and team slugging percentage (.526). Cheridan Hawkins also set a school record with 17 strikeouts against Seattle U. For their careers, Kaylan Howard tied the program record with 37 home runs, while Sam Pappas now owns the UO mark with 238 hits and 155 RBI and is tied with Howard with 37 homers. Jessica Moore holds the school record with 100 career wins, 915 strikeouts, 176 appearances and 903 innings pitched.