After Oregon softball kicked off their season, there wasn’t much reason for optimism following the disappointing pitching performances from Cheridan Hawkins and Karissa Hovinga. Hawkins and Hovings struggled throughout the day and gave up 14 runs combined as the No. 8 Ducks lost the season opener to Cal Poly, but beat Fresno State in the nightcap.
Fast forward two days later and Hawkins and Hovinga looked like the formidable duo that’s expected to give opponents trouble throughout the season. They combined to throw 18 innings of one-run (unearned) ball with 21 strikeouts in three games.
Hovinga got things started for the Ducks in the first game on Saturday in which she threw six innings while giving up no earned runs and striking out four. Hawkins finished off the day with a dominating performance in which she shut out NC State and surrendered just one hit and struck out 10. The duo then combined to shutout Boise State on Sunday in just five innings of work with seven strikeouts and only two hits allowed.
Similar to the Jessica Moore-Hawkins duo last year that led the Ducks to within one win from advancing to the College World Series, the combination of the command-type pitcher in Hovinga and the over-powering Hawkins has the potential to baffle opponents throughout the year.
Oregon proved to be a team of resiliency with a lot of fight in them and maturity beyond their years.
After losing the first game of the year to Cal Poly, the Ducks found themselves down 7-2 after two innings against Fresno State with the rest of the game looking bleak at best. Oregon ignited a rally, tallying four runs in the next inning and eventually took the lead. After Fresno State scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Ducks showed more resilience by scoring a run in the top of the eighth innings and held on for the win.
In addition, the Ducks proved that they have the offensive firepower to keep up with anybody.
Two of Oregon’s five games were cut short due to the eight-run mercy rule after five innings. Throughout the tournament, the Ducks averaged 7.4 runs per game and were led by the effort of senior infielder Courtney Ceo.
Ceo went 10-for-11 with two doubles, a triple, five stolen bases and six runs scored.
Oregon showed great power throughout the Classic, combining for 18 extra-base hits, four of those coming via the long ball. Not only did Oregon show its power, the Ducks successfully sacrificed an at-bat seven different times to move the runners up a base, proving that they can win playing “small ball” as well.
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