BERKELEY, Calif. — For the fifth time in the past six seasons the Oregon softball program has won a Pac-12 championship.
The second-ranked Ducks clinched a share of the title after an 8-3 comeback victory over No. 24 California on Friday at Levine-Fricke Field.
Senior catcher Gwen Svekis blasted a three-run home run, her 16th of the season, to give the Ducks a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning.
Senior shortstop DJ Sanders, who hit a three-run home run during Oregon’s 13-0 run-rule win on Friday, added another three-run deep fly in the sixth to give the visitors the five-run cushion.
The Ducks improved to 46-7 overall and 20-3 in Pac-12 play with their 12th consecutive win.
No. 1 UCLA, which defeated No. 6 Arizona State 5-1 on Friday night, needs to win Saturday and have Oregon lose its regular-season finale at Cal to share the championship.
"It's cool knowing three of my four years I was a Pac-12 champion," Svekis said in a news release. "But we still have business to take care of. We have one more game to clinch it (outright) and then we can celebrate a little bit more. It's awesome knowing we have a part of it, but we'd rather have it all."
Megan Kleist (20-5, 0.96 ERA) scuffled during a 40-pitch fifth inning but allowed only three hits and three runs (two earned) during her 17th complete game in the circle this season. The junior right-hander finished with 10 strikeouts and did not allow a walk.
Jenna Lilley led off the top of the first inning off with a double off Cal ace Zoe Conley (16-12, 2.24 ERA) but was stranded at second base.
Haley Cruse led off the third with a bunt single but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Sanders made a spectacular play to rob Cal’s Karlee Sparacino of a hit in the bottom of the inning.
Kleist struck out six of the first nine batter she faced.
Shannon Rhodes lined a double off the wall in right with one out in the fourth. Conley got Mary Iakopo to ground out and Mia Camuso to ground out.
In the bottom-half of the inning, Lindsay Rood doubled to right center for the first hit off Kleist. After getting sacrificed over to third base, Rood came home on a passed ball to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
The Ducks responded in the fifth as Cruse doubled and Alexis Mack brought her home with an RBI single to tie the score 1-1 before Svekis’ clutch home run.
Krysten McCue dislodged the ball from Svekis’ glove during a collision at home plate to score to cut Cal’s deficit to 4-2.
Moments later, Lauren Espalin hit a bloop RBI single to get the Bears within 4-3. Cal loaded the bases with one out, but Lilley threw home for a force-out and Kleist struck out Mikayla Coelho to limit the damage.
Camuso ripped a lead-off double, stole third base and came home on a throwing error by catcher Marcella Kay to give Oregon a 5-3 cushion in the sixth before Sanders’ home run.