Ducks Come Up Short In Slugfest
EUGENE, Ore. — The long ball continued to hurt Oregon softball Sunday as Arizona State hit a grand slam and a three-run homer to beat the Ducks 8-6 and complete a series sweep at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The No. 14 Ducks (24-11, 4-8 Pac-12) have lost six in a row and seven of nine, after facing the other two ranked Pac-12 teams the last two weeks in No. 3 UCLA and No. 16 ASU. Over the last three series, Oregon has hit six home runs and given up 18, including eight to the Sun Devils.
"It's difficult to defend balls that leave the yard," UO head coach Melyssa Lombardi said. "We've got to be able to keep the ball in the yard. If we can do that, I feel very good about our defense. But we can't defend that."
In the series sweep by ASU, Oregon failed to put a runner in scoring position Friday, allowed four unearned runs Saturday and couldn't overcome the homers with runners on base Sunday. At 4-8 in the conference, the Ducks are ahead only of their next two Pac-12 opponents — Arizona and Washington.
"We'll have one (phase of the game) that's strong, and something else that's not," Lombardi said. "If we can be stable across the three, you'll see what this team is capable of. … We've got to get some things figured out right now. There's urgency, for sure. Does this team think we can compete with and beat anybody? Yes. But we can't be chasing. It just doesn't work that way."
How It Happened: The Ducks jumped on ASU early Sunday, as Hanna Delgado and Allee Bunker opened the game with singles and a one-out double by Terra McGowan scored Delgado. Ariel Carlson drove in Bunker, and Oregon led 2-0.
Three straight one-out walks by UO starter Stevie Hansen (8-4) in the third were followed by Jazmine Hill's grand slam to put ASU up 4-2. Rachel Cid led off the bottom of the third with a double and McGowan singled to score pinch runner Gabby Herrera, but a three-run homer by ASU's Cydney Sanders made it 7-3 in the top of the fourth.
Again the Ducks had an answer, as Delgado singled with one out, Bunker doubled to put two in scoring position and Cid plated Delgado with a sacrifice fly. Makenna Kliethermes blanked the Sun Devils in the fifth and sixth to keep Oregon's hopes alive, and Bunker's seventh homer of the season drove in Delgado with her third run of the game as Oregon got within 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth.
A two-out RBI single after a brief rain delay in the top of the seventh put ASU up 8-6, and Oregon could only muster a two-out double by KK Humphreys in the bottom of the inning.
"We have learned how to fight," Bunker said. "Even though it didn't come out our way, we were able to fight through. We need to take that with us going forward. But at the same time we need all three areas of the game — we need pitching, we need defense and we need hitting to win."
Notable: Delgado, Bunker, Cid and McGowan combined to go 9-for-14 with five runs and five RBIs. … Delgado hit .429 in the series, Bunker hit .417 and Cid hit .400. … Bunker had her first three-hit game since March 6. … Humphreys' double in the seventh was her team-leading 11th of the season.
Head coach Melyssa Lombardi, on being swept by the nationally ranked Bruins and Sun Devils
"You gotta look at the big picture as well and realize who we're facing. But if you want to be able to compete in this league and compete in the postseason, you've got to be able to handle them. … There's plenty of time. But we've gotta move."
Second baseman Allee Bunker, on what the Ducks can take from the last two weeks
"The positive that comes out of it is, we know exactly what we need to work on going forward. We've been exposed the last two weekends in various points of our games. The next six weeks we can use that to our advantage in practice, and be ready to fix those things and go into the postseason."
Up Next: The Ducks open a three-game series at Arizona on Thursday (5 p.m., ESPN2).