Season ends for Ducks softball
Oklahoma City continues to be heartbreak city for the Oregon softball program.
The Ducks, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, saw their season end on Saturday with a 4-1 loss to sixth-seeded Florida State at the Women's College World Series.
Oregon's season ended with a 53-10 record after the Ducks went 1-2 at Hall of Fame Stadium.
FSU (54-12) advanced to face UCLA in Sunday's semifinals. The Seminoles beat Georgia, 7-2, earlier on Saturday to earn their shot at Oregon.
Washington faces two-time defending champion Oklahoma in the other semifinal. On Saturday, Oklahoma beat Arizona State and No. 2 Florida, both 2-0, in loser-out games.
The Bruins and Huskies — who finished behind the conference champion Ducks in the Pac-12 — are 2-0 in the tournament. Each needs only one win on Sunday to advance to the best-of-three championship series.
As was the case in Friday's second-round loss to Washington, Oregon came up short in all three facets of the game against FSU.
At the plate, the Ducks managed five hits, and their four seniors — Jenna Lilley, Gwen Svekis, Lauren Lindvall and DJ Sanders -- were 0 for 11. The Ducks were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
"We were as prepared as we could have been," senior catcher Svekis said. "We watched a ton of film. We hit rise balls all day, and we just, I mean, couldn't get it done to the best of our ability."
On defense, the Ducks made four errors.
Oregon used all three of its pitchers, and FSU produced nine hits as all four runs were earned against a staff that was among the best in the nation all season.
"That's what hurts these young ladies is that if we had played up to our caliber and we got beat, so be it," Oregon coach Mike White said. "But to kind of feel like you didn't quite get it done to our abilities, that's the toughest thing."
Miranda Elish (25-2 this season) started and suffered only her second career loss. The sophomore allowed two runs on six hits and a walk. She struck out five in four-plus innings.
Megan Kleist and Maggie Balint worked out of jams after coming on in relief, but each also gave up an earned run.
FSU converted after Cali Harrod, the No. 7 hitter in the order, got aboard to start the third inning and fifth innings, with No. 9 hitter Elizabeth Mason twice delivering run-scoring hits.
In the top of the third, Harrod walked after starting with an 0-2 count. She scored the first run of the night when Mason doubled to left center field with one out. Elish worked out of a first-and-third jam from there.
In the fifth, Harrod hit a leadoff single, went to third on a bunt single by Morgan Klaevemann and scored on a Mason base hit. Keist relieved Elish and prevented further damage.
A leadoff walk and an Oregon error put the first two Seminoles aboard. Zoe Casas drove the bell to the right field wall. Oregon's Haley Cruse made a leaping attempt, but the ball glanced off her glove for what turned into a long single that scored the third FSU run.
The Ducks got on the board in the sixth. Shannon Rhodes reached on an error with one out and scored on a two-out double by Cruse.
But Florida State's got that run back when Sydney Sherrill hit a home run down the right field line off of Balint.
In Oregon's final at bat, Sanders drew a leadoff walk and Mary Iakopo walked with one out, allowing the tying run to come to the plate.
FSU changed pitchers, bringing on hard-throwing Meghan King, who got Lilley to fly out to left field and struck out pinch-hitter April Utecht.
White said it can be easier to lose the tournament opener and fight back with a day off. He noted that FSU could gain confidence from winning earlier on Saturday. Last season, the Ducks won twice on elimination Saturday to reach the semifinals.
Oregon has made the Women's College World Series six times, including four of the last five seasons. But the Ducks have never made it to the championship round and have only twice made it to Sunday's semifinals.
History shows the path to a national title is starting the Women's College World Series with two wins — something Oregon has never done.
"Our defense let us down again, and we didn't have the timely hits at the same time. You've just got to win that second game. That's the bottom line," White said. "We just didn't get it done. So then there's that negative feeling you take into the next game."