UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — No. 11 Oregon celebrated its second Super Regional bid in as many years with its 3-1 win against Penn State in the NCAA regional finale Sunday afternoon at Beard Field.
“I was proud of how our team played today,” Oregon coach Mike White said. “Penn State won an emotional game last night, so we knew they we would have to play aggressively. We were diving all over the place, and trying to pick each other up. Jess pitched her heart out, and our offense stayed patient and knew that the hits would fall eventually.”
Keeping with the weekend’s low-scoring theme, the Ducks scored all three of their runs in the sixth inning, while the Nittany Lions (31-24-1) scored the game’s first run in the third.
In the first five innings, the Ducks (42-14) struck out only once, but their three hits and one walk had also left them scoreless against All-Big Ten second team pitcher Lisa Akamine.
That changed in the sixth inning.
UO sophomore Kaylan Howard reached on a one-out error by the third baseman on a grounder, then advanced to third on senior Monique Fuiava’s double that bounced off the left field wall. Senior Kaitlin Vitek followed with a shallow liner that the left fielder dropped as she ran in to allow Oregon’s first run to score.
Penn State turned to the bullpen and brought in the school’s all-time career wins leader Jackie Hill (20-14) to try and get the inning’s final two outs.
UO freshman Alexa Peterson followed with a double off Hill to right field to knock in the Ducks’ final two runs. It was her third hit of the afternoon and fifth of the series in eight at bats.
Earlier, Akamine banged an RBI single to right field in the third inning, and scored one of the two hitters who had walked prior.
PSU threatened again in the sixth after it rapped a pair of one-out singles and forced White to bring in senior Brittany Rumfelt to face left-handed hitter Alyssa Sovereign, who had hit a pair of two-run homers Saturday.
After Sovereign walked, White reinserted sophomore starter Jessica Moore (24-9) with the bases loaded and one out. The All-Pac-10 honoree retired the next two batters via grounders on a force-out at home and first base.
Notching all 21 outs, Moore struck out five, walked two, gave up four hits and one earned run.
“I didn’t have quite the same stuff like yesterday,” Moore said, “so the strikeouts weren’t there and I had to get ground balls and fly balls. Pitching three starts at last year’s regional (at Atlanta) gave me confidence that I could do it again this weekend. Pitching on enemy soil also helps get me up, and makes me concentrate that much more.”
For PSU, Akamine struck out one, walked two, allowed four hits in her 5.1 innings, and both of her runs allowed were unearned. Hill pitched the final 1.2 innings, struck out two, walked none, gave up one hit, and her run allowed was unearned.
Adding in Sunday’s stats, Fuiava climbed UO’s all-time career lists in doubles (third, 38) and walks (10th, 65), and its season chart in doubles (ninth, 13). Moore made similar moves up the season wins (third, 24) and career appearances (10th, 80) categories.
Oregon is now 5-0 all-time against Penn State with two of those other wins coming in the 2003 and 2007 regionals. UO’s other two series victories came via a pair of 2-0 shutouts in opening-month action in 2004. White served on the Duck staff in the 2003 and 2004 tilts as the assistant coach in charge of pitchers and catchers.
Last year in White’s first season as head coach, UO claimed its first-ever regional crown in Atlanta when it beat Auburn 1-0 and upset No. 7 seed Georgia Tech 11-2 (5) and 4-3 (8). Afterward, Oregon lost in the Super Regional at No. 8 seed Missouri 1-0, 7-3.