AUSTIN, Texas -- All in all, Jessica Moore had a pretty good Saturday.
Facing elimination after losing the opening game of the NCAA Austin Super Regional, the Oregon junior pitched 15 innings over two complete games and struck out eight. She also added two RBI and, most importantly, two wins against No. 8 Texas and a trip to the Women’s College World Series for the second time in program history and first since 1989.
“I came out and needed to be stronger than I was yesterday and the team picked me up hugely today,” Moore said. “It was just awesome going out there and pitching with a lead pretty much all day today.”
She got those leads with help Kaylen Howard and Kelsey Chambers who had five RBI on the day.
In the first game, Chambers hit her 10th home run of the season, but it was Ducks second baseman Kaylan Howard who provided the dramatics. The junior hit a sac fly to score freshman center fielder Janie Takeda with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Ducks a 5-4 victory game two at Red and Charline McCombs Field.
Moore struck out five in game two while Texas sophomore Rachel Fox took the loss for the Longhorns, tossing 5.0 innings in relief and surrendering two runs on five hits while striking out one and walking one.
Oregon, playing as the home team, got on the board early with a two-out rally that produced three runs in the bottom of the first. Chambers homed before back-to-back walks by Kailee Cuico and Christie Nieto put runners on first and second, Alexa Peterson hit an RBI single that brought home Cuico. A throwing error on Peterson’s single by Schmidt, who was attempting to throw out Cuico at home, allowed Nieto to come around and score Oregon’s third run of the inning.
Texas responded with a single run in the top of the second and took the lead with three runs in the third sparked by an RBI double from Lexy Bennett. The Ducks tied the game at four in the fifth with a hit and two errors before winning in the eighth.
Junior Blaire Luna started for Texas but struggled, allowing three runs on two hits while allowing five walks and was chased after just 2.2 innnings.
“I think once we saw [Luna] yesterday, we kind of had a feel for what she had today so we practiced that and I think it paid off,” Chambers said.
Luna was no better in game three. The junior took the loss for the Longhorns, tossing 1.2 innings and allowing five runs on three hits while striking out two. Fox relieved Luna and junior Kim Bruins tossed worked in relief, but the damage was done.
Oregon, playing as the home team, took control of the game with six runs on five hits, a hit batter and an error in the bottom of the second.
“The more [the Ducks] saw Blaire, the better they got with adjusting to her pitches,” Texas coach Connie Clark said. “She tried to mix a few things up, but I think she was thinking about it a little too much instead of going out there and having command.”
Texas rallied for three runs on five hits in the fourth. It could have been more, but Moore got out of the bases-loaded jam without further damage.
Oregon answered with four runs on five hits and an error in the bottom of the fourth to give the Ducks all the cushioning they would need.
“This game is about momentum,” Oregon coach Mike White said. “That was one of the things we talked about was trying to carry momentum into the next game from that first game, that big win. Come out early and try to get on top early and put the pressure on them and it worked.”