OKLAHOMA CITY — Before making any strategic moves during the Women’s College World Series, Oregon coach Mike White needed a pinch-driver.

The team bus had a flat tire Thursday morning, so the Ducks borrowed Florida State’s ride to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium for the opening game.

Top-seeded Oregon overcame the inauspicious start and an early 2-0 deficit to beat No. 8 Arizona State 11-6 to begin play in the double-elimination bracket.

 

The Ducks (53-8) will face another Pac-12 rival, No. 5 Washington, in the winner's bracket Friday (4 p.m., ESPN). The Huskies (50-8) defeated two-time defending champion Oklahoma 2-0 in the second game.

“We want to know if we can borrow it for the rest of the week,” White said of the Seminoles’ bus.

Whatever it takes to transport those hot bats.

Oregon, which outscored Kentucky 17-2 in the final two games of the super regional at Jane Sanders Stadium, roughed up Gisele "G" Juarez (26-5) for 14 hits and 11 runs over six innings. The Arizona State ace had a 0.91 earned-run average entering the game and shut out White’s team 4-0 on April 15 in Tempe, Ariz.

“I try to go out there confidently each time,” Juarez said after her ERA climbed to 1.21. “They faced me three times. You would expect they would make adjustments like I make adjustments to them.

“I don’t think I threw a bad game, I just had some tough innings. That’s all I can really say.”

Shannon Rhodes went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a towering three-run home in the bottom of the sixth inning, to lead the offensive outburst for the Ducks.

The 11 runs are a program record for Oregon in the NCAA era of the WCWS. The Ducks beat Maryville State 11-0 in the 1976 AIAW World Series in Omaha, Neb.

“Going back and watching film and saying, ‘You know, we’re not going to have her beat us again on the same pitches,’” Rhodes said of her team’s approach at the plate. “She’s got a sequence. I personally think (it's) very predictable. So we just bought into what coach White told us. …

"You’ve got to stick to the plan.”

White decided to stick with Miranda Elish (25-1), who made her third consecutive postseason start. The sophomore made some mistakes, allowing five hits and six runs over five innings, but still earned the win in the unexpected home run derby.

“It was awesome to get the start, and my offense had my back the whole entire time,” Elish said. “Our offense really saved us today.”

In the third inning, Rhodes came through with an RBI single, and Lauren Burke followed with a two-run triple into the right-field corner to give Oregon a 5-2 lead.

Burke, a true freshman from Marist High School, went 2-for-4 at the plate in her WCWS debut and is hitting .538 with two home runs and nine RBIs in six postseason games.

“This whole year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs,” said Burke, who was in the starting lineup as the designated player against Arizona State. “I’m seeing the ball right now and I get lucky in situations.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Jenna Lilley singled and reached second on an error. Then Alexis Mack laid down a bunt single, and Lilley scored on another error to make the score 6-2.

The official scorer gave Arizona State only two errors, but the Sun Devils struggled defensively throughout the game.

“One thing that’s definitely helped is we’ve been on this stage before,” said Mack, who finished 3-for-4 with three runs. “We’ve been to the super regional and we’ve been on this big stage, so the nerves aren’t really there. We are not trying to do too much.”

Morgan Howe, the Sun Devils’ cleanup hitter, responded with a two-out, three-run home run off Elish in the fifth to cut Arizona State’s deficit to 6-5.

But after a double by Rhodes to lead off Oregon’s half of the fifth, Haley Cruse smashed a two-run home run to left field, just her second deep fly of the season, to give the Ducks an 8-5 cushion.

“I knew what she was going to throw me. She got me out twice on the same pitch pretty much,” Cruse said of her critical at-bat against Juarez. “I waited for her to come up and in and got the pitch I was looking for. So I was just trying to produce and make an adjustment and turn on that pitch.”

Megan Kleist relieved Elish in the sixth and sat the Sun Devils down in order. The Pac-12 pitcher of the year, who had not pitched since giving up seven runs in a 9-6 loss to Kentucky a week earlier, allowed two hits and a run in the seventh.

“Everything happens for a reason,” White said of being able to get both of his all-American pitchers in the game. “Maybe that was a good thing to get Megan out there and give her a little bit of time out on the mound and get a feel for it.”