No. 17 Oregon Softball split their Mary Nutter Collegiate College doubleheader against Texas teams on Saturday, February 23, serving a 7-5 comeback victory to Texas A&M (receiving votes) before a 5-0 shutout loss to No. 23 Texas Tech.
Oregon soared early against A&M, as sophomore catcher Shaye Bowden bashed two runs in with a first-inning double to left-center. The Aggies punched into the lead during the bottom of the second, when pinch-hitter Abby Smith took UO starter Jordan Dail deep to left center on a three-run homer. The lead would balloon to 5-2 after an RBI single from the Aggies later in the inning and Kelly Martinez’ fourth-inning solo shot. Dail stayed in the circle, though, pitching past her mistakes and holding A&M at five during a five-strikeout complete game. Oregon rallied for three runs in the sixth on the back of freshmen Allee Bunker (1-4, RBI, R) and Lexi Wagner (2-2, 2 RBI), then the Ducks made Dail a winner (8-0) by capitalizing on three Aggie errors for a two-run seventh frame.
The Ducks did not have similar luck against undefeated Texas Tech. With ace Erin Edmoundson dealing from the circle, the Red Raiders never let an Oregon runner reach scoring position. UO’s Maddie MacGrandle showed signs of improvement throughout her complete game performance, but after allowing a run in the 1st inning, MacGrandle and the Ducks never established a foothold. She finished with eight strikeouts but nine walks, giving up five earned in a losing effort.
Oregon (10-4) will play their final Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic game on Sunday, February 24 at 9 AM.
GAME STORY (by Matt Tyra)
Head Coach Melyssa Lombardi
Catcher Shaye Bowden
In No. 2 Oregon’s first full game without perennial starter, Ruthy Hebard, the Ducks took on the 16-10 UCLA Bruins. In a night that had as many tears as it did raindrops, the Bruins pulled off the improbable upset and beat the Ducks 74-69.
After a rocky start to the game, highlighted by turnovers and sloppy play from both sides. The Ducks took a 7-5 lead off a deep 3-pointer from Maite Cazorla. The Ducks eventually cleaned up their turnovers and started to put the pressure on the Bruins. Erin Boley and Cazorla were the primary benefactors of what was a great passing display by the Ducks. Boley and Cazorla finished the half with 16 and 9 points respectively, and Sabrina Ionescu chipped in with 6 points and 6 smooth dimes at the break. UCLA got the looks that they wanted to on the offensive end, but the shots refused to fall for the Bruins. They collectively shot 32.3% from the field and 22.2% from behind the line in the first half. The half fittingly ended with an air ball from Kiara Jefferson and the Ducks led 42-27.
In what was a tale of two halves, the Bruins opened the scoring in the second half with a layup from Kennedy Burke, and the comeback was on. Sloppy play and a lack of shooting from the Ducks helped UCLA fight to within single digits with 5:50 to go in the 3rd. Led by player of the game Kennedy Burke, who finished with 29-8-2. The 4th was a flash of blue, white and gold; before they knew it, Oregon was down 68-60 with 3:21 to go in the fourth. Down 69-72 Oregon had one last chance after Alana Smith missed 2 free throws for the Bruins, but a missed box out and a heck of an effort from Burke was the final straw that broke the Ducks’ back. Oregon fought valiantly, but ultimately fell short. Head Coach Kelly Graves admitted the Ducks really missed Hebard, who had 20-18 the last time these two teams met, but that going forward the Ducks need to find a way to jump-start their offense that “has been a mess lately.”
The Ducks will look to reconfigure the Hebard-less offense and regain momentum against 15-10 USC Trojans at home this Sunday at 11:00 am
Audio Story: By Adam Susman
Erin Boley Post game Audio:
Kelley Graves Post game Audio: