Cheridan Hawkins strikes out 14 as No. 2 Oregon defeats No. 18 California
EUGENE, Ore. -- Behind a season-high 14 strikeouts from lefty Cheridan Hawkins, No. 2 Oregon defeated No. 18 Cal 5-2 in the series opener on Friday at Howe Field.
The Ducks improved to 42-5 (17-2 Pac-12) with their 12th consecutive win. Oregon is now 15-5 against top-25 foes this season and has won nine in a row against ranked opponents. Cal dropped to 35-14 (7-12) with the loss.
Hailey Decker put the Ducks on top early when a sharp grounder took a high hop and bounced over the second baseman’s head for a double, scoring Jenna Lilley from first. Oregon scored twice more in the second when an error on a Danica Mercado bunt allowed Janelle Lindvall and Koral Costa to score.
Decker doubled again in the third inning, this time a lined shot to left center, to score Lilley from first once again. In the fourth inning, Janie Takeda lifted a sac fly to left to bring home another run and make it a 5-0 lead for the Ducks.
Cal got a pair of runs back in the top of the fifth on a towering two-run homer over the scoreboard in right by Britt Vonk, her first of the season. The Ducks didn’t score in the fifth or sixth but the three-run lead was more than enough for Hawkins.
Hawkins was off in the first, hitting two batters and walking another as Cal loaded the bases with one out. But the junior regrouped and struck out the next two batters looking to get out of the jam.
She was nearly flawless until the Golden Bears connected on the two-run homer to right. The junior All-America candidate settled in after the home run, however, and struck out the next five batters.
Overall, Hawkins allowed two runs on two hits with 14 strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.
Hawkins had struck out 11 batters twice this season before ringing up 14 batters on Friday. Her career-high is 18 strikeouts, which is the UO single-game record. That mark came against UNLV last season.
“I’m glad we won," Hawkins said. "For me I think there are things I can work on to get better. Less pitches is always better, but I’m happy. I’m happy with a win. I like outs any way I can (get them). 14 strikeouts or 14 popups, I like it either way.”