The Ducks don’t get scored on anymore.
No. 1 Oregon, which clinched the outright Pac-12 championship with a 2-0 victory at California in the regular-season finale, did not allow any runs during a dominant sweep of the NCAA Eugene Regional.
Mike White improved to 27-0 in regional play after top-seeded Oregon advanced to the softball super regional with a 3-0 victory over Drake on Saturday in front of another capacity crowd of 2,522 at Jane Sanders Stadium.
Miranda Elish (22-1), who allowed four hits during the 4-0 victory over Albany on Thursday, gave up five hits and stranded eight Drake base runners during the clinching performance. The sophomore had 25 strikeouts and two walks during her two complete-game shutout wins and was named MVP of the regional after the game.
Megan Kleist pitched a one-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and no walks during the Ducks’ 5-0 victory over Drake on Friday.
“They’ve made this weekend so fun for me. My whole senior year has been just such a joy,” catcher Gwen Svekis said of the pitching staff. “Hearing that we didn’t give up a run is so cool to me. I think that is just the most awesome, fun statistic to hear. They’re some tough cookies in the circle, and I’m very proud of them for the work they put in.”
Kleist and Elish both outpitched Nicole Newman (22-5), who had a 0.61 earned-run average before her first loss to the Ducks (50-7) on Friday. The Drake ace gave up six hits and three runs over five innings with no strikeouts and two walks.
“That girl could pitch in the Pac for sure, so I’m going to give a lot of credit to her,” said Svekis, who was 0-for-4 with three walks against Newman during the regional. “She shut me down, so she’s awesome, she’s good.”
The Ducks continued their fifth-inning magic by scoring three runs on four hits to break open the scoreless pitching duel between Elish and Newman.
The decisive inning started with Mia Camuso’s infield single through Newman’s legs. After Lauren Lindvall singled, Shannon Rhodes put down a successful sacrifice bunt, and Jenna Lilley was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Alexis Mack came through with a two-run single, and Haley Cruse added an RBI single to make the score 3-0. Mack, who ran White’s red light at third base, thought she scored on Cruse’s clutch knock, but the home plate umpire called her out at the plate.
“She did blow my stop sign, but that’s being aggressive, that’s OK,” White said. “I thought it got to the outfielder pretty quick, and she never gets held up by me and she knows. But I think she thought, ‘Oops, I’m supposed to stop’ and kept going.”
Newman came to the plate representing the tying run with two on and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Elish struck out her counterpart to squash the rally attempt.
“That at-bat didn’t go as well as I hoped,” Newman said. “There was a couple low hits here and there, one I probably could have had, that was tough. They’re a great hitting team and they squeezed a couple across.”
In the third, Alexander and Mandi Roemmich hit back-to-back singles with one out for the first hits of the game, but Elish got a strikeout and a groundout to keep Drake off the scoreboard.
Drake got a two-out single and walk in the fifth after falling behind, but Elish fielded a grounder off the bat of Macy Johnson — who broke up Kleist’s perfect game with two outs in the seventh on Friday — to end the inning.
The Bulldogs (45-12) finished the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
“Our kids battled all day today, pitchers kept us in the game,” Drake coach Rich Calvert said. “We had a couple opportunities early, with less than two outs. I think we had four opportunities. We just couldn’t get a big hit.”
Oregon will have the luxury of resting and waiting for an opponent from the NCAA Lexington Regional, which potentially might finish until Monday because of rainouts.