Melyssa Lombardi has praised her team’s “fight” throughout a grueling season.
But the first-year Oregon softball coach didn’t see much push back on a frustrating Thursday evening at Jane Sanders Stadium.
The Ducks, already eliminated from the postseason, mustered only one hit during a 4-0 loss to Arizona State.
“I don’t think we came out strong enough today,” Lombardi said during a brief postgame news conference. “I’m actually pretty disappointed with the way we played.”
Oregon pounded out 14 hits during an 11-6 victory over the Sun Devils at the Women’s College World Series last June.
A lot has changed since the previous meeting in Oklahoma City.
The depleted Ducks (22-28, 5-17), who won the Pac-12 in 2018, have now lost five consecutive conference home game and are 4-11 this season at the Jane.
Oregon starter Jordan Dail (18-16, 3.88 ERA) allowed seven hits and four runs with five strikeouts.
In the top of the first inning, Dail walked the bases loaded with no outs, throwing 12 of her first 15 pitches for balls, before Haley Cruse made a shoestring catch of a shallow fly ball off the bat of cleanup hitter Denae Chatman.
Jade Gortarez followed with a bases-clearing double to give the Sun Devils a 3-0 head start.
“Once she settled down, I thought she pitched great,” Lombardi said of Dail, the only scholarship pitcher left on roster. “I thought she was still up and down a little bit, but I just think what got her a little bit today was the first inning. To walk three and then you give up the big hit, you look at the scoreboard and everything happened in the first inning.”
Bella Loomis tripled to lead off the second but was unable to score as Dail induced a fly out and two pop-ups.
Arizona State starter Cielo Meza lost her control in the bottom of the second, walking the bases loaded with one out.
Samantha Mejia came out of the bullpen and struck out Lexi Wagner and Bailey Cook to end the threat.
“I don’t think we saw Oregon softball today,” Lombardi said of her team’s meek offensive display. “I think we’re much more capable at the plate than what we showed. I think their pitching staff pitched well, but I think we’re much more capable.”
Cruse smashed a double to center for Oregon’s lone hit in the fifth, but Gortarez robbed Allee Bunker of an RBI hit with a brilliant leaping catch at third base.
Maddi Hackbarth doubled, advanced to third on a single and scored on a double steal to give the Sun Devils (31-18, 11-11) a 4-0 lead in the fifth.
Cruse returned to center field and Jasmine Sievers started at shortstop after they both missed last weekend’s series at Utah while navigating their way through concussion protocol.