#5 Oregon Softball 2014 Preview

Oregon Ducks

Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #1 Pac 12
#5 Oregon Softball 2014 Preview
Oregon Team Page


The Ducks came one game within earning back-to-back berths in the Women's College World Series last year when they were upset by Nebraska in three games. It ended a record-breaking season for Oregon, one in which it earned its first-ever Pac 12 title and defeated ten teams ranked in the top 25. The Ducks graduated only four players so their success looks like it has a chance to be continued since many of the players returning have vast experience.

2013: 50-11, 19-5
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike White

Field Players:
The Ducks will be experienced at the plate as they bring back five of their top eight hitters, including their top three. Oregon, which had four players hit double-digit home run, hit 80 long balls as a team and return three of those four, led by Kailee Cuico, who had a team-high 14 home runs. Six hitters in last year's lineup knocked in over 30 RBIs, four of which return, as the Ducks had an astounding 334 RBI as a team. Janelle Lindvall finished second on the team in home runs with 13 and knocked in 38. The last returning double-digit home run hitter, Alexa Peterson, hit 12 long balls on her way to driving in 39. Peterson, along with top hitter Janie Takeda, had 12 doubles apiece. Takeda had quite the sophomore campaign, hitting .442 with 92 hits, 54 runs and 31 stolen bases, all team highs. She also knocked in 44, which was second on the team.

The Ducks used a two-woman rotation last season with Jessica Moore and Cheridan Hawkins. Moore has graduated, so Hawkins assumes the role of ace after compiling a 19-5 record with an ERA of 1.55 and 212 strikeouts in 39 appearances, 19 of which were starts. Karissa Hovinga didn't get a lot of time in the circle last season, but started 16 games and went 12-3 in 30 games in 2012.  

Who to Watch:
Hovinga, Hawkins and Jasmine Smithson-Willett. Hawkins had quite the freshman campaign and even got a chance to play on both the Junior and Senior U.S. National Teams this summer. But how will her arm handle being the ace, especially if the team decides to go to a one-person rotation. If they don't, there are two other options on the roster in Hovinga and Louisville transfer Smithson-Willett. Hovinga lost time in the circle thanks to Hawkins' emergence, but might be looked at to step up her role. Smithson-Willett pitched in only two games last season at Louisville, but was a successful high school pitcher, who set numerous school records.

Final Projection:
The Ducks will be mashers again at the plate. How the season ends up will mainly decide on how the pitching staff turns out. If Coach Mike White decides to go to a one-woman rotation, can Hawkins' arm hold up?  Will the other pitchers be able to step up? What's scary is that the team is young again this year. The roster includes only three seniors, Peterson, Cuico and Courtney Ceo.  The nonconference schedule includes tough matchups with N.C. State, LSU, Fordham, Notre Dame, Auburn, Hawaii and Florida. The Pac-12 scheduling gods were kind to the Ducks, as they get Washington, Cal, UCLA and Arizona State at home.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Janie Takeda, OF, 208
Hits: Janie Takeda, OF, 92
Home Runs: Kailee Cuico, UT, 14
RBIs: Janie Takeda, OF, 44
Runs: Janie Takeda, OF, 54
Stolen Bases: Janie Takeda, OF, 31

Wins: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 19
Innings Pitched: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 140.1
Strikeouts: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 212
Saves: Cheridan Hawkins, P, 6

Madness 2014 NPF Draft Rankings:
#5 Alexa Peterson
#14 Courtney Ceo


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