Women's College World Series: Oregon's Hawkins dominant in win over Florida State
No. 1 Oregon, the only Pac-12 school left in the tournament, began its Women's College World Series journey Thursday afternoon in Oklahoma City. The Pac-12 champion Ducks started the double-elimination bracket against the champions of the ACC, No. 8 Florida State, who feature the 2014 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Lacey Waldrop. Game on.
Behind a stifling performance in the circle from Cheridan Hawkins, Oregon blanked Florida State 3-0 to advance to the winner's bracket. The Ducks offense pounded out 11 hits in support of Hawkins and the defense was sharp as Oregon moves on to play No. 5 Florida Friday at 4 p.m. PT.
This one was destined to be a pitchers' duel with Hawkins' 33 wins (tied for third-most in the country) and 1.55 ERA facing off against Waldrop's 38 wins (most in the country) and microscopic 1.01 ERA, and that's exactly how it played out.
Maddie O'Brien led off the game with a single for the Seminoles and was pushed to second on Courtney Senas' one-out walk. Sensing his sophomore starter was a little rattled in her WCWS debut, Oregon coach Mike White made a quick visit to the cirlce. After that, Hawkins was locked in.
She struck out Briana Hamilton for out number two, then coaxed an inning-ending groundout from Kelly Hensley. Little did the Seminoles know that leadoff single would be their only hit of the game.
[Highlights: Ducks blank Florida State in WCWS opening round]
In the Oregon half of the first, one-out singles from Alyssa Gillespie and Janie Takeda led to Janelle Lindvall's RBI groundout to second base. 1-0 Ducks and that's all they would need.
Hawkins retired the side in order in the second and in the bottom half, Alexa Peterson scored on Nikki Udria's RBI single up the middle, giving the Ducks a 2-0 lead.
The Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Hawkins, breezed through the third, fourth and fifth innings, using her deadly rise ball and pinpoint control on the outside corner to handcuff the Seminole hitters. Maybe that whole coach visit thing really works for Hawkins?
— Rob Moseley (@GoDucksMoseley) May 29, 2014
In the bottom of the fifth, the Ducks offense showed off their in-game adjustment abilities and tallied their third run of the game. Waldrop, known for her drop ball, was throwing pitches ranging from 40 mph to 65 mph and was consistently working the inner half of the plate. The adjustment? Simply moving away from the plate. With two outs and two strikes against her, Koral Costa was able to spin on an inside pitch and ripped a double right down the left field line. The next batter, Peterson, swung at a similar pitch and produced the same result, doubling to the left field corner to drive in Costa for her team-high 61st RBI. That gave the Ducks an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The Seminoles were able to get their first baserunner since the first inning in the top of the sixth after second baseman Karine Shaver's error allowed FSU's Tiffani Brown to reach first, breaking up a streak of 16 straight batters retired by the unflappable Hawkins.
After the error, Hawkins got Senas to fly out to right to end the inning then worked around a walk in the seventh to close out an emphatic performance: 7 innings pitched, one hit, two walks, six strikeouts, and most importantly, no runs. She faced 25 batters, only four over the minimum. More proof of Hawkins' dominance? The first three batters against her went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk. The next 22? How about 0-for-21 with one walk, one error and six strikeouts. It was only the second time Florida State had been shut out this season.
Offensive leaders for the Ducks included Takeda (2-for-4), Peterson (2-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored) and Udria (2-for-3, one RBI).
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 29, 2014