#3 Oregon Softball 2016 Preview

Oregon Ducks
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
 Oregon Logo
The Oregon Ducks went into the 2015 Women’s College World Series as one of the favorites to win it all. Unfortunately, a loss in the first game against UCLA put the Ducks in a hole that was just too deep to dig their way out of and they ran out of gas on Elimination Saturday in Oklahoma City. This year a new era begins as Howe Field is no longer and Oregon and will be in the new Jane Sanders Stadium. With new facilities it will keep them in a position to stay amongst the nation’s elite in college softball.
2015: 51-8, 21-3
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike White
Field Players:
Even with the loss of Janie Takeda to graduation, this everyday lineup for the Ducks is going to be explosive and a tremendous challenge for opposing pitching staffs to deal with. Infielder Jenna Lilley will be looking to add another all-American type season to her resume in 2016. Lilley led Oregon in batting average last season, hitting .427, and mixed in some nice power and speed with six homeruns and 16 stolen bases. Outfielder Koral Costa and infielder Hailey Decker are going to be the primary power hitters as Costa and Decker combined for 26 homeruns and 91 runs batted in last season.
The two time reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Senior Cheridan Hawkins will be back and that is a huge plus for Oregon in their quest to return to Oklahoma City this season. Hawkins, was 30-5 with a 1.64 earned run average and has that ability to absolutely take over a game in the circle as opponents have to earn everything they get off of Hawkins as she has pinpoint control. Opponents only were able to draw 54 walks off of Hawkins in 200.1 innings pitched and hit just .142 last season as well. Geri Ann Glasco should see plenty of action as well in the circle to save some wear and tear for Hawkins. Glasco, was 7-2 last season and made 11 starts out of her 19 appearances in 2015.
Who to Watch:
Senior Catcher Janelle Lindvall will be looking to make a run at the career homerun record at Oregon as Lindvall needs just 14 homeruns this season to break the school record of 46. Incoming freshman pitcher Megan Kleist, who was the Division I state player of the year in Wisconsin, will be expected to compete right away for time in the circle. Kleist was very overpowering throughout her entire high school career and that will serve her well while pitching in such an offense heavy conference like the Pac-12.
Final Projection:
A trip to the Louisiana Classic to play the Ragin’ Cajuns will be an early season test for the Ducks as it will be the return half of a home and home with Louisiana. Nebraska, Fresno State and Missouri also highlight the non-conference schedule the following week at the Mary Nutter Classic. After an opening road trip to Seattle to take on Washington to start conference play, Oregon will open up Jane Sanders Stadium against Stanford and UCLA on consecutive weekends. It is going to be important for Oregon to start fast in conference play by sending a message to rivals like Washington and UCLA that the Ducks are a team on a mission to get back to the Women’s College World Series. Look for Oregon to be right in the middle of the national conversation all season long and more prepared to handle the Oklahoma City stage this time around.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jenna Lilley, IF, 164
Hits: Jenna Lilley, IF, 70
Home Runs: Koral Costa, OF, 15
RBIs: Janelle Lindvall, C, 51
Runs: Jenna Lilley, IF. 60
Stolen Bases: Jenna Lilley, IF, 16
Wins: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 30
Innings Pitched: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 200.1
Strikeouts: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 282
Saves: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 7
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#18 Cherish Burks
#38 Megan Kleist
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#1 Cheridan Hawkins