UO must win its final five regular-season games to qualify for NCAA Tournament
SALT LAKE CITY — The Oregon softball team, the No. 1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, is one loss away from being eliminated from consideration for the 64-team field.
The Ducks lost 4-3 to Utah on Friday night in front of a crowd of 865 at Dumke Stadium.
Oregon fell to 21-26 overall and 4-15 in Pac-12 play. First-year coach Melyssa Lombardi’s undermanned team has lost five consecutive conference games and must win all five remaining regular-season games to be eligible for postseason play.
BreOnna Castaneda’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Utes (17-32, 5-14) the win. Alyssa Barrera scored the winning run after hitting a bloop double and stealing third base.
Jordan Dail (17-14, 3.81 ERA) allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) with seven strikeouts and five walks. Oregon’s workhorse threw 145 pitches.
Rachel Cid hit an RBI single to center field to score Allee Bunker, cutting the Ducks’ deficit to 3-1 in the fifth inning.
Senior April Utecht tied the score with a two-run home run.
Dail escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by getting a line out to Cid at third base and a pop-up to Bunker at second base.
In the sixth, after Utah put two runners in scoring position with one out, Dail fielded her position and threw a runner out at home and then struck out Ally Dickman to end the threat.
Cid and Utecht both singled in the seventh, but the Ducks were unable to score. Pinch-runner Bayley Bruner, an Oregon soccer player who walked on this season, was thrown out at third base from right field by Dickman.
Dail hit Barrera with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. Castaneda added an RBI single to give the Utes a 2-0 lead.
A passed ball allowed an unearned run to score as Utah went ahead 3-0 in the third.
Oregon was unable to score with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning.
Game two of the three-game series is at 11 a.m. on Saturday.