Home Opener A Smashing Success
EUGENE, Ore. — Playing for the first time since ace pitcher Brooke Yanez announced she will miss this season due to injury, the Oregon softball team showed Friday that it still has plenty of other formidable weapons on the roster.
The Ducks (17-3) opened their home schedule at Jane Sanders Stadium with a 7-0 shutout of visiting Portland State. Jordan Dail and Makenna Kliethermes combined on the shutout, Vallery Wong and Ariel Carlson continued to power the offense and every member of the starting lineup had at least one hit.
Yanez, a returning third-team all-American, had yet to pitch this season prior to her announcement on social media Thursday that she will miss this spring but plans to return in 2023. The Ducks continue to play without starting catcher Terra McGowan due to injury as well, but that didn't stop Oregon from extending its win streak to nine games Friday.
"This is all we know how to do — they know how to weather storms, they know how to persevere, they know how to pick up teammates," UO coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "We have really good depth, and we have it in all areas."
How It Happened: Coming off a five-homer weekend that earned her national player of the week honors, Wong got Oregon on the board in the first inning with a two-out home run that scored Allee Bunker. The homer was Wong's sixth of the season, all in the past six games, and Ariel Carlson followed Friday's first-inning blast with her team-leading eighth home run for a 3-0 lead.
UO starting pitcher Jordan Dail took the circle for the top of the second after receiving that support and promptly retired the Vikings in order.
"Any time they can score early it's awesome," said Dail (7-1). "It takes the pressure off me, it takes the pressure off our defense. It allows us to play free out there, and go at the other team."
Oregon's offense added on in the second. Gabby Herrera and Rachel Cid opened the inning with back-to-back doubles for a 4-0 lead, Hannah Galey reached on a bunt and Bunker drove in Cid with a flyball to right field. Hanna Delgado singled to score Galey, and Oregon's lead was 6-0.
Galey doubled in the fourth and came in to score on two groundball outs. Dail followed with her fifth scoreless inning of work, and Kliethermes pitched around an error in the sixth before Cid ended the game in the seventh by snaring a line drive at third and doubling off a runner from first for the final out.
Friday's game continued a recent trend of hot starts for the Ducks, after they spent February starting slower but finishing strong. On Friday the Ducks stranded potential walk-off winning runs in scoring position to end both the fifth and sixth innings.
"You're seeing them get to their plans quicker; that's been the difference," Lombardi said, while also noting that "we didn't finish as strong as we needed to. If you have an opportunity to put an opponent away, you have to put them away."
Noteworthy: With her eighth home run of 2022, Carlson doubled her career home run total (four) coming into the season. ... Bunker extended her hitting streak to 10 games with a lead-off single. ... Delgado is batting .619 (13-21) in her last six games. ... Dail has given up one earned run in her last 17 innings
On Deck: The Ducks host North Dakota State for a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
Head coach Melyssa Lombardi, on the crowd of 1,928
"We've been waiting for this for a long, long time. First of all to play at The Jane, and to play in front of our home crowd. That's why our athletes come here, because of the support they get. For that to be taken away from us these past couple years … to hear our crowd roar and hear our crowd get after it, it feels so good."
Senior pitcher Jordan Dail, on playing this season without Yanez
"All of our hearts hurt for Brooke. Nobody ever wants to go through that situation. But the cool thing about being a staff is, we have each other's back. We're kind of a team within the team. And we want to do this for her until she's able to get back healthy."