Facing their toughest compilation of competitors to date, No. 19 Oregon opened up the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational with back-to-back games against nationally-ranked foes. The Ducks took down No. 8 LSU 8-5 in the opener before being shutdown by all-American pitcher Megan Good and No. 23 James Madison 9-1 in the final game of the day.
OREGON 8 — LSU 5
After waiting for four years to be the star of the Oregon softball team, senior April Utecht came through in the end of the Ducks’ biggest game of the season. She drove in four runs over the final two innings, including a three-run blast in the top of the seventh inning to lead Oregon to victory.
Utecht finished 2-for-4 with four RBI’s while freshman Jasmine Sievers delivered in a 2-for-3 performance with two RBI’s.
Oregon jumped all over LSU in the top of the first inning, scoring three runs as Rachel Cid had an RBI single before Sievers knocked two-run double down the left field line.
The Tigers got one back in the bottom half of the inning off Oregon starter Jordan Dail but in the second inning, it was catcher Shaye Bowden who made a difference for the Ducks. She threw out a runner trying to steal second for the second out of the inning before back-picking a runner at first base to get out of the frame.
Bowden continued to help Dail when she had an RBI single in the third inning, giving the Ducks a 4-1 lead.
Oregon ran into trouble in the fifth when Dail gave up a three-spot in the inning. Errors and wild pitches pushed the first Tiger run across the board before Dail gave up her first hit of the game, a two-run shot that tied it at 4.
Utecht notched her first RBI when she scored Cherish Burks, who singled and advanced to second on a Sievers sacrifice bunt. It was a very similar seventh inning with Burch (walk) and Sievers (single) both getting on base to set the stage for Utecht’s blast.
Dail improved to 4-0 by throwing a complete 7.0 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) with four hits and eight strikeouts.
James Madison 9 — OREGON 1 (6 innings)
The Ducks suffered their first loss of the season when they ran into Good and James Madison. Oregon was held to just four hits, all by freshman. Sievers led the way with a 2-for-2 showing while Cid and Allee Bunker went 1-for-3.
Maddie MacGrandle suffered her first loss of the season in the pitcher’s circle, being tagged for five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings. She was relieved by Kailey Krueger, who gave up four runs on four hits in 1.2 innings pitched.
Sievers almost got Oregon on the board in the second when she doubled and was followed by a walk from Hannah Galey — but a strikeout ended the threat.
James Madison took advantage in the top of the third when a two-out, double off MacGrandle gave the Dukes the lead.
Things got out of hand in the fifth when MacGrandle gave up four runs in the frame before leaving for Krueger. The Dukes stayed hot in the sixth by adding four more runs, forcing the Ducks to score two runs to keep the game going.
Bunker ripped a triple off Good in the bottom half of the inning, before coming around to score on Cid’s fielder’s choice for the only run of the game.