SB Preview: Oregon looks to make a statement against UCLA after tough, close series losses in each of its last two weeks

By Dylan Farrell

Over the last two weekends, Oregon softball shows that it belongs near the top of a stacked Pac-12 conference. This weekend, starting tonight, March 24, the No. 18 Ducks (19-8, 2-4) will try to prove that they are more than the Pac-12 standings say they are as they host the No. 4 UCLA Bruins (27-3, 4-2) for a three-game series. That’s a tall order — the Bruins have a glut of talent on offense and defense, including stars Maya Brady, who boasts a .467 average and a 1.476 OPS on the season, and Megan Faraimo, who has a 1.36 ERA and a monstrous 0.66 WHIP alongside a 13-1 record. UCLA’s lineup also has two faces that are familiar to Ducks fans: those of Brooke Yanez and Rachel Cid, who transferred to UCLA in the offseason. This series marks their first return to the Jane since departing and the last leg of the toughest stretch of Oregon’s schedule this year.


The Ducks have faced tougher opponents on the mound than UCLA, namely Stanford, which they went toe-to-toe with all of last weekend. That’s not to say that it’s bad by any stretch of the imagination, though: UCLA’s top 3 pitchers by usage all have ERAs below 2.00 on the year. Two of them — Megan Faraimo and Brooke Yanez — also have WHIPs below 1. The Ducks are likely going to have a hard time scoring through this series, unless Faraimo has a game or two like she did against Cal or Oklahoma. In both of those contests, Faraimo allowed 4 earned runs in less than 2 innings. Cal’s offense is on par with Oregon’s so that’s not entirely out of the question.

Oregon’s pitching staff put on a strong performance against Stanford last weekend, but it remains to be seen how well that will hold up against as potent an offense as UCLA’s. Oregon’s pitching staff doesn’t win the head-to-head matchup, as none of Stevie Hansen, Morgan Scott or Raegan Breedlove have wrangled their conference or overall ERAs down below 2. The lowest belongs to Hansen, who boasts a 2.14  alongside a 1.00 WHIP. Not bad, but not UCLA. Scott and Hansen showed excellently last weekend against Stanford however, so their ability to rise to the occasion doesn’t rule them out from holding their own.


Both offenses in this matchup are potent, and the Bruins boast one of the best in the nation. UCLA has a cumulative batting average of .343 on the year so far, alongside 74 extra base hits and 29 home runs. The Ducks have a .313 average on the season and 73 EBH with 32 home runs. As a whole, the teams are comparable, but UCLA takes the cake with respect to top-end talent. Maya Brady boasts the team’s highest average at .467, and eight of the team’s top nine players with at least 40 at-bats have averages over 0.300. Conversely, only five of Oregon’s hitters have a .300 average. The Ducks get the edge when it comes to extra base hits however, as 5 Ducks boast SLG%s over 0.500. UCLA has four. On paper, these teams are relatively evenly matched offensively, so the game will likely come down to whether or not pitchers can stay hot, especially Faraimo and Hansen.


Ducks fans can go home happy if Oregon keeps all 3 games close and takes one of them. UCLA is a top-5 team in the nation and has been ranked as high as No. 2 at points throughout the year, so proving that they can win — even just once — is a big win for the program at large. Based on Oregon’s performances these last couple of weeks, I’m going to say that Oregon takes game 2 on Saturday and drops the others.