Stellar Pitching Leads Ducks to 2-0 Start
PHOENIX — Back in action for the first time in 338 days, the Oregon softball team opened up the long-awaited 2021 season with back-to-back run-rule wins over Weber State and Montana on Friday at the GCU Kickoff Classic.
The No. 10 Ducks got a career-high five RBIs from Allee Bunker and a terrific outing in the circle from Brooke Yanez to start the day with a 9-0 win over Weber State in six innings, the program's seventh straight season-opening victory.
Oregon's offense used a pair of big innings once again to enter run-rule territory against Montana, and the pitching duo of senior Samaria Diaz and freshman Raegan Breedlove combined for a five-inning perfect game to lead Oregon to an 8-0 win and a 2-0 start to the 2021 season.
Game 1 (Oregon 9, Weber State 0): With Yanez dealing in the circle, the Ducks and Wildcats were locked in a scoreless tie through four innings before Oregon erupted for five runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to kick off year three under head coach Melyssa Lombardi with a run-rule victory.
How it Happened: Yanez (1-0) got the opening-day nod in the circle after going 9-1 with a stellar 1.56 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, and the left-hander delivered five shutout innings of two-hit ball with eight strikeouts and just one walk. The junior got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout in the first inning before allowing just two baserunners over the next four frames.
The Ducks were hitless through the first four innings before a pair of walks and an error loaded the bases with no outs. Terra McGowan pushed across Oregon's first run of the season with a sacrifice fly, and Bunker followed with a bases-clearing, three-run triple into the right-center field gap. Ariel Carlson brought Bunker in with an RBI single to make it 5-0, Oregon.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning by Yanez, McGowan and Rachel Cid each came through with RBI singles in the top of the sixth and Bunker followed with a two-run double-double to put Oregon in run-rule territory.
Makenna Kliethermes came on in relief of Yanez in the bottom of the sixth, setting Weber State down in order with a pair of strikeouts to secure Oregon's first win of 2021.
Game 1 Box Score Notes: Bunker finished 2-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs and the third triple of her career … McGowan went 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, while Carlson and Cid each drove in one run apiece.
Game 2 (Oregon 8, Montana 0): Diaz and Breedlove combined to set down all 15 Montana batters they faced to record the fourth perfect game in program history, and Haley Cruse matched the program record with three doubles to lead the Oregon offense in an 8-0 five-inning Oregon win.
How it Happened: The Grizzles couldn't touch Diaz, who racked up four strikeouts over 3.2 perfect innings to kick off her fifth and final collegiate season. Breedlove came on in relief to make her collegiate debut with two outs in the fourth after back-to-back strikeouts by Diaz, and the freshman retired all four batters she faced with a strikeout to finish off the combined perfecto.
Cruse got the offense going with a leadoff double in the first, and Bunker drove in her sixth run of the day with an RBI single to stake Oregon to a 1-0 lead.
The Ducks used three straight doubles in the second inning to push three more runs across and make it a 4-0 advantage. Cruse drove in Alyssa Brito with her second two-bagger, and McGowan and Cid each followed with RBI doubles of their own.
Shaye Bowden pushed Oregon's lead to 6-0 with a two-run double in the fourth after a pair of walks started the inning, and Cruse stayed hot with her third double in as many innings to match the program single-game record and make it 7-0. McGowan finished off a solid opening day with an RBI single up the middle to put Oregon into run-rule territory and set the stage for the combined perfect game by Diaz and Breedlove.
Game 2 Box Scores: Cruse finished 3-for-3 with three doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs … McGowan went 2-for-3, and she and Bowden both had a double and pair of RBIs … Oregon finished the game with six total doubles, one shy of the program single-game record.
Overall Notables: Bunker finished opening day a combined 3-for-7 with six total RBIs, while McGowan went 3-for-6 with four RBIs … Oregon pitching combined to give up just two hits over 11 shutout innings while striking out 15 and walking just one batter … The top four in the Ducks' order (Cruse, McGowan, Cid, Bunker) combined to drive in 14 of the 17 runs while going 11-for-22 with six doubles … As a team, the Ducks went 11-for-25 with runners in scoring position over the two games.
On Deck: Oregon will play another doubleheader on Saturday in Phoenix, starting the day with a rematch vs. Weber State at 12:30 p.m. PT before taking on Grand Canyon at 5 p.m. PT.