#4 Oregon Softball 2018 Preview

Oregon Ducks
Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
 Oregon Logo
Oregon continued its run of excellence in 2017 under the leadership of head coach Mike White and his staff as the Ducks made their way to Semifinal Sunday at the Women’s College World Series. Oregon will return an experienced team in 2018 that is primed to get even closer to knocking off the two titans of women’s college softball right now in Oklahoma and Florida. If they can stay healthy and get to Semifinal Sunday in Oklahoma City without a loss, that will put the Ducks in great position to get to the Championship series this June.
2017: 54-8, 17-6
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike White
Key Departed Players:
Nikki Udria, IF, .394 BA, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 12 SB
Danica Mercado, OF, .358 BA, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 25 SB
Key Returning Players:
Alexis Mack, OF, .424 BA, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 28 SB
Mia Camuso, IF, .341 BA, 2 HR, 47 RBI
Shannon Rhodes, OF, .336 BA, 7 HR, 46 RBI
Gwen Svekis, C, 309, 10 HR, 42 RBI
Lauren Lindvall, IF, .260 BA, 3 HR, 25 RBI
Jenna Lilley, IF, .258 BA, 1 HR, 26 RBI
Megan Kleist, P, 1.32 ERA, 21-5 W-L, 169.2 IP, 37 BB, 161 SO
Maggie Balint, P, 1.22 ERA, 21-3 W-L, 126.0 IP, 37 BB, 152 SO
Miranda Elish, P, 1.79 ERA, 12-0 W-L, 105.2 IP, 25 BB, 98 SO
Oregon always finds a way to absolutely punish opposing pitchers with a nice mix of power and speed at the plate. Gwen Svekis is the top returning homerun hitter for Ducks after hitting ten homeruns and driving in 42 runs last season. Shannon Rhodes is another very dangerous homerun threat. She hit seven homeruns while hitting .339 in 2017. Alexis Mack is a top-flight slap hitter with excellent speed who hit .424 and stole 28 bases in 2017. She will be looking to build off that in 2018. Mia Camuso is back as well and will be looking to elevate her game at the plate. She hit .341 with two homeruns and 47 runs batted in last season. In the circle, Oregon returns all three starters from 2017 in Megan Kleist, Maggie Balint, and Miranda Elish, who all were outstanding for the Ducks. This trio had an earned run average under two runs per game and they were very consistent with throwing strikes. The next step for the staff is to have one pitcher step up her game to a Kelly Barnhill or Paige Parker level in the postseason as Barnhill and Parker are two the best postseason pitchers in the sport right now. The schedule is tough with a trip to Tallahassee to play Florida State, along with several top SEC opponents and a visit from Oklahoma. UCLA visits Eugene to kick off the conference slate in a very critical tone setting type of series as the Bruins have caused Oregon some problems over the past couple of seasons. Arizona and Utah also come to Eugene and the Ducks will have to go to Seattle to play the Huskies in late April. In the end, look for the Ducks to be a Women’s College World Series contender all season long.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament