Ducks Fall on Senior Day
EUGENE, Ore. — A tightly played series concluded in fitting fashion Sunday, when No. 7 Arizona used a two-run home run to beat No. 12 Oregon 2-0 at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The two teams split the four-game series, with the Ducks (33-15, 11-10 Pac-12) winning two of the three conference games. Sunday's game was the only one of the four that wasn't decided by a single run, with the Wildcats outscoring the Ducks in aggregate just 7-6 over the four games.
"We left eight runners on; we can't do that," UO coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "We clutch up in those situations, the outcome looks a lot different, for sure."
Sunday was Senior Day for the Ducks, who celebrated Haley Cruse, Shaye Bowden, Samaria Diaz, Maddie Hopper and Annalisa Williamson in their final regular-season appearance at Jane Sanders Stadium. Oregon remains in the running to host postseason play when it begins in two weeks, and Lombardi believes the Ducks have a strong case to be one of the 16 host teams.
"I do — we've been playing top teams all year long," Lombardi said. "We've been grinding in the Pac-12 all year long against top opponents, beating each other up. Absolutely."
How It Happened: Jessie Harper's 89th career home run came with one on and one out in the third inning, and was the only offense Arizona needed. The home run came off Diaz, who started on her Senior Day and walked the next hitter after Harper's homer before giving way to Brooke Yanez.
The Ducks definitely had their chances to match the Wildcats, and more. Allee Bunker and Terra McGowan singled with one out in the first but were stranded, and Oregon squandered a one-out double by Gabby Herrera followed by a two-out walk from Deijah Pangilinan in the second.
Oregon's best chance of the game might have come in the fifth, when Alyssa Brito broke out of a slump with a leadoff infield hit and Cruse singled with one out. A fielder's choice put runners at the corners with two out, but McGowan struck out.
"This is an explosive offense," Lombardi said. "We'll get this figured out."
The Ducks' only baserunner in the sixth was Rachel Cid after a one-out walk, but that guaranteed one more at-bat in the game for Cruse. The senior, who is on track to lead Oregon in batting average an unprecedented four straight seasons, fittingly laced her second hit of the day into center field.
"I can't say enough about Haley Cruse," Lombardi said. "We've been together since day one, and she's never wavered. This program has her heart. She took a stand for this program, and she's been a leader on and off the field."
Notable: Cruse finished the weekend 8-for-13 (.615) with three extra-base hits and three RBIs ... She now leads the team with a .384 batting average and a .453 on-base percentage ... Yanez was stellar in the circle all weekend, posting a 0.38 ERA while striking out 24 and walking just one over 18.2 innings against an Arizona team that led the league in hitting coming into the weekend ... Her 215 strikeouts this year are the 10th-most in a season in program history.
On Deck: The Ducks begin the final series of the regular season at California on Thursday at 3 p.m.