Hawkins, Ducks pound Baylor
EUGENE — A month ago, Cheridan Hawkins, Oregon’s two-time all-American pitcher, wasn’t even the ace of her own staff.
Mired in a bought of wildness, Hawkins started just one of three games against Arizona State in a series played April 22-24. In two appearances that weekend, the senior left-hander allowed four runs in four innings.
Who then, could possibly have expected what’s become of Hawkins since? Having fixed a mechanical flaw spotted by catcher Janelle Lindvall during a bullpen season the week after the ASU series, Hawkins has quite simply returned to being arguably the most dominant pitcher in the country.
Hawkins tossed a one-hit shutout of Baylor in a 6-0 victory for the No. 5 Ducks at Jane Sanders Stadium on Saturday, moving Oregon (46-8) into today’s NCAA Regional final at 4 p.m. In her 49 2/3 innings since the ASU series, Hawkins has a 0.42 ERA, and eight wins in eight starts. She’s struck out 66 hitters over nine total appearances, and walked just four.
“There were definitely times I did not think there was gonna be a turning point,” Hawkins (22-3) said after dominating the Lady Bears on Saturday. “But it’s just about holding faith. I knew the coaches and my teammates held faith in me, and it was just kind of that one thing to turn the corner.”
Pitching in support of Oregon’s new-look, grind-out-runs offense, Hawkins set down the first 11 batters she faced. The 12th reached on an error, but Hawkins coolly retired the next hitter to end the inning. That sparked another run of eight straight set down, before Sarah Smith singled to center with one out in the seventh for the only hit by Baylor (44-13).
Smith faced Hawkins in the two games Oregon and Baylor split at a preseason tournament last spring. What Smith saw Saturday was a different pitcher.
“I always like to give credit where credit is due,” Smith said, adding that during her first at-bat Saturday she thought, “Wow, we haven’t faced a girl like that, a lefty who can really spin the ball.”
JACKSONVILLE STATE 5, OREGON STATE 4, 14 inn.: At Auburn, Ala., right-handers Bev Miller and Meehra Nelson combined to hold Jacksonville State to one earned run in 14 innings, but Oregon State committed a season-high five errors as the Beavers fell to the Gamecocks in the Auburn Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
The Beavers finished the season with a final overall record of 30-20-1. Saturday’s game was the longest by innings in program history, as OSU had previously played 13-inning games against Stanford in 1998 and Portland State in 1997.
USC 10, OREGON STATE 1: At Los Angeles, Oregon State dropped a decision to USC at Dedeaux Field.
Oregon State (31-19, 12-14 Pac-12 Conference) and USC (25-26, 13-13) complete their three-game series with a rubber match today at 12:05 p.m.
Cadyn Grenier went 2-for-3 to pace the Oregon State offense, which recorded six hits off four USC pitchers. Grenier singled in both the fifth and seventh innings, driving in Nobach on his second hit of the afternoon.
The Trojans scored three runs in the first, highlighted by Timmy Robinson’s two-run triple.
USC added to its lead with a solo run in the second, then pushed it further to 8-0 with a four-run third inning.
Luke Heimlich started for Oregon State and allowed six hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. He took the loss to drop to 6-4 on the year.
OREGON 4, ARIZONA 2: At Eugene, Oregon earned a crucial Pac-12 series win with a victory over Arizona in game two of the three-game series in front of 1,982 at PK Park.
With the game tied 2-2 in the seventh, Tim Susnara delivered a two-out, two-run double to deep right-center field to give the Ducks a two-run advantage. The two-out rally started with back-to-back base hits by Jake Bennett and Nick Catalano, and came half an inning after Austin Grebeck kept the game tied with a laser of a throw to nail an Arizona runner at the plate on a single to center field to end the inning.
Arizona (32-20, 15-14 Pac-12) mounted a threat in the eighth, getting the tying runs in scoring position with one out. Right-hander Brac Warren got the second out of the inning on a popout in foul territory, and closer Stephen Nogosek ended the inning by striking out Bobby Dalbec. Nogosek earned his second save in as many days with a scoreless ninth inning, securing the win and the series for the Ducks.
Oregon (28-22, 14-12 Pac-12) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI squeeze bunt by Travis Moniot, scoring Catalano after he started the inning with a double off the top of the left-field wall and moved to third on a single by Susnara. Bennett extended the Oregon lead in the fifth, ripping an RBI single through the left side to score Kyle Kasser, who reached on a throwing error to begin the inning.