Ducks Ranked in Top 11 of Two Polls
Oregon will begin the 2021 season ranked in the top 11 of two major national polls, checking in at No. 10 in the NFCA Coaches' Poll and No. 11 in the USA Softball Poll Tuesday.
The Ducks are coming off of a 22-2 season in head coach Melyssa Lombardi's second season at the helm – a year that was halted after 24 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon began last season on a 16-game winning streak and the season ranked No. 8 in the USA Softball Poll and No. 9 in the NFCA Coaches' Poll.
Oregon will welcome back nearly everyone from last season's team with nine position players returning who started at least 10 games last year in addition to the top seven leading hitters from the 2020 team. In the circle, all four pitchers who were on last year's roster will be back a year after each finished the season with an ERA under 2.40. Adding to the already experienced roster will be a group of five talented freshmen who will give the Ducks even more depth.
The Ducks improved drastically in every facet in year two under Lombardi, finishing as the only team nationally to rank in the top 15 in the country in batting average (8th), ERA (11th) and fielding percentage (2nd). Additionally, Oregon ranked in the top 15 in the nation in six other major stat categories, including strikeout-to-walk ratio (4th), runs allowed per game (4th), runs scored per game (9th), fewest total runs allowed (10th), strikeouts (11th) and on-base percentage (12th).
Another key part of Oregon's success was getting off to fast starts, outscoring opponents, 73-3, over the first two innings of games (29-1 in 1st, 44-2 in 2nd). Oregon pitching did not allow a single run in the first or second inning over the first 21 games of the season, while the Ducks led through two frames in 19 of the 24 games.