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Opening Salvo In Top-Five Showdown Goes To Oregon On Friday

Apr 9, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. — Allee Bunker homered as part of a three-hit day and Brooke Yanez tossed a two-hit shutout as the No. 3 Oregon softball team opened its monumental weekend series against No. 2 UCLA with a 3-0 victory Friday at Jane Sanders Stadium.

Bunker broke a scoreless tie with her two-run home run in the fourth inning off Megan Faraimo, who came into the weekend ninth in the country in ERA at 0.70. That helped make a winner of Yanez, who improved to 14-0 by striking out eight and walking just one in her fourth seven-inning shutout of the season.

The game was played before the biggest crowd allowed to this point in the season at The Jane, 635 fans. Between their presence and the No. 2 team in the country in the opposing dugout, the Ducks said they had to battle through some nerves in the early innings.

"It just took us a while to settle in," UO coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "They were ready to go. They prepared well all week. I just think they needed to settle in."

How It Happened: Yanez hit the first batter of the game, and a wild pitch put a runner in scoring position. With two out, UCLA cleanup hitter Delanie Wisz smoked a groundball up the middle that deflected off Yanez right to first baseman Shaye Bowden, who recorded the out.

Senior Haley Cruse was stranded in the bottom of the first after reaching on an error, and Bunker didn't advance past first base after her one-out single in the second. But after Yanez pitched around a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth, Alyssa Brito led off the bottom of the inning with a single. Three batters later, Bunker launched a missile over the fence in left field, scoring pinch runner Ariel Carlson, who had stolen second base.

UCLA's first hit came with one out in the fifth, and Kinsley Washington then stole second before Yanez got out of the inning. In the bottom of the fifth, Deijah Pangilinan was hit by a pitch from UCLA reliever Rachel Garcia, and two batters later Cruse drove an RBI double into the gap in right-center off the two-time national player of the year.

The Ducks had a chance to add on in the sixth, when Bunker singled with two out and Bowden reached on an error. That rally didn't produce a run, but Yanez pitched around a single in the seventh to complete the shutout.

At The Plate: Bunker's second-inning single capped an eight-pitch at-bat in which she fell behind 0-2, fouled off three pitches and took two balls before reaching with a hit. She said she was looking for a pitch that was inside but still caught the plate; in her second at-bat, she got it.

"I really like how Bunk goes about her at-bats," Lombardi said. "I think she's got a great plan. She just goes about her at-bats the right way: She knows what she wants, and she sticks to her game plan."

That two-run rally began with the single by Brito, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous weekend. Brito also made a sparking defensive play at shortstop in the top of the fourth, fielding a high chopper on a short hop and rifling to first for the out.

"She's just a freshman but she just is such a competitor," Lombardi said. "We all love the emotion she plays with. And her emotion just spreads across the team. So it was great to have her back."

On The Mound: Yanez might never have been in bigger trouble than in the first, when the final out rocketed off her knee to Bowden, saving a run. She allowed only one more runner into scoring position, and never had multiple runners on base together.

"She had everything working for her today," Bunker said. "We just have complete confidence in her on the mound. I think everyone would say the same thing. Any pitch is going to come in and be in the right spot."

On Deck: The Ducks and Bruins square off twice Saturday, with a 1 p.m. first pitch on ESPN2 followed by a 4 p.m. first pitch on Pac-12 Network.