The Oregon softball team has played the nation’s sixth-toughest schedule.
And now the well-traveled Ducks (16-19 overall, 1-8 Pac-12) are in Los Angeles for a three-game series against top-ranked UCLA beginning Friday.
Coach Melyssa Lombardi is looking forward to the latest challenge after Oregon won three of its four games last weekend in Missouri.
“Everything that is left on our schedule, including UCLA, we are prepared for,” Lombardi said. “We’ve faced it all year.”
The pitching staff, already decimated by offseason attrition, was thinned out even more over spring break when Maddie MacGrandle opted not to return. The Texas A&M transfer had a 3-7 record and a 7.81 earned-run average in 15 appearances with the Ducks.
Tireless lefty Jordan Dail (13-8, 3.53 ERA) was named the Pac-12 player of the week after going 3-0 with three complete games in a 24-hour span to lead Oregon to wins over Pittsburgh (9-1, 4-3) and Missouri (4-1).
“I don’t see my arm falling off any time soon,” Dail said. “I definitely don’t mind pitching as much as I am either.”
The Bruins (35-1, 9-0) lead the nation with a 1.12 team ERA and are fifth in batting (.350) and scoring (7.5 runs per game).
Rachel Garcia, the reigning national player of the year, is 15-0 in the circle with a an NCAA-best 0.50 ERA. At the plate, she is batting .344 with six home runs and 31 RBIs.
“It’s going to be a good experience for our freshmen. She’s a very elite pitcher,” Haley Cruse said of facing Garcia. “We’re going to need to come out with the mindset that we can hit her, because if you have any self doubt against a pitcher like that, then you’re not going to be successful.”
The Ducks, the defending Pac-12 champion, will have a chance for a strong finish to Lombardi’s trying first season with 11 of their final 14 games at Jane Sanders Stadium.