Weekend Sports News

by Frank Baldwin May 21, 2015

 Softball


NCAA softball: Eugene Super Regional at a glance

The Oregon Ducks are hosting the super regional round of the NCAA softball postseason for the fourth consecutive season in Eugene. Before No. 2 overall seed Oregon continues its quest for a second straight Women's College World Series appearance, we take a look at the teams competing this week at Howe Field.

OREGON DUCKS

Record: 49-6, 21-3 Pac-12 (1st place)

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: Eliminated by Alabama in the 2014 Women's College World Series.

Regional round: The Ducks breezed through the Eugene Regional, sweeping all three games. The Ducks outscored opponents 18-4.

At a glance: Oregon followed the best season in team history with one even better. Oregon dominated the Pac-12, setting a team record with 21 conference wins. The Ducks score often and have one of the best pitchers in the country in junior Cheridan Hawkins and feature a lineup that hit a NCAA third-best .366 on the season.

Players to watch: It's head coach Mike White's tendency to go with his ace in the super regionals and few expect anything different this week. Hawkins continued her strong season with two wins in the regional round and should be the driving force this week. Also look for freshman Jenna Lilley to have a breakout series. A big cog in Oregon's offense, Lilley was just 2-for-7 in the regional round – far below her team-leading .441 average.

NC STATE WOLFPACK

Record: 38-20, 13-8 ACC (at-large berth)

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: Lost to Georgia in the Athens Regional final in 2014.

Regional round: The Wolfpack surprised everyone by breezing through the James Madison Regional. NC State broke out for a 12-5 win over Fordham before stellar pitching notched wins over James Madison (2-0) and Fordham again (2-1) in the final.

At a glance: Oregon's opponent in the super regional doesn't have a fraction of the postseason experience the Ducks do. NC State is making its first super regional appearance in program history – and it's surprising the Wolfpack made it this far. NC State finished fifth in the ACC, but won nine of its final 10 games to enter the postseason on fire. The three-game sweep of the James Madison Regional was clinched by a complete game from Emily Weiman, who allowed one run and four hits a day after one-hitting regional favorite JMU.

Players to watch: Matched against Hawkins will be Weiman – the first 100-game winner in NC State history. The senior is a three-time first-team ACC selection and led the conference this year with 284 strikeouts. At the plate, four-time ACC selection Renanda David packs the most punch. The senior batted .387 this year with 13 home runs and 41 RBI and enters the super regional on a 15-game hitting streak.

Schedule:

Game 1: Friday, May 22, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Game 2: Saturday, May 23, 12 p.m., ESPNU
Game 3 (if necessary): Saturday, May 23, 3 p.m., ESPNU

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Cheridan Hawkins makes final cut for national player of the year award

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Cheridan Hawkins (Tyson Alger/The Oregonian )

EUGENE - Oregon pitcher Cheridan Hawkins made the final cut for USA Softball player of the year award and the junior is one of three finalists, the organization announced Wednesday.

The winner will be announced at the pre-tournament banquet at the Women's College World Series on Tuesday. Florida pitcher/first baseman Lauren Haeger and Michigan shortstop Sierra Romero are the other two finalists.

Hawkins, the Pac-12's back-to-back pitcher of the year, boasts a 29-3 record, a 1.40 ERA and 249 strikeouts through regional play last weekend.  Hawkins ranks second in the nation, allowing just 3.27 hits per seven innings.

Ranked in the top-10 in the NCAA in wins, shutouts and saves, Hawkins was also named first-team all-Pac 12 and leads the conference in wins, ERA and opponent batting average.

With the announcement earlier today that Jenna Lilley is one of three finalists for the NFCA national freshman of the year honor, the Ducks are the only program to have a player make the last cut for both awards.

 

 

 

 

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Ducks get $6 million donation for softball stadium

As the Ducks prepare to host the NCAA super regional round for a fourth straight year at Howe Field, the program also received some good news about its future home.

The university announced on Tuesday that alum Bob Sanders has donated an additional $6 million to complete the Jane Sanders Stadium project. After receiving an initial donation of $10 million from Sanders for the new stadium, the Oregon athletics department started fundraising to meet the estimated project total of $16.5 million approved by the UO Board of Trustees in February and now Sanders has made the second donation.

"Mr. Sanders has made this dream a reality for our softball program," said athletic director Rob Mullens in a release. "Under head coach Mike White, our softball program has grown into a national power, deserving of a new facility. Mr. Sanders' generosity and passion for Oregon athletics will allow us to continue to provide an exceptional student experience and dramatically improve the softball fan experience. And most importantly, this great facility will honor Jane Sanders."

Jane Sanders Stadium will feature 1,500 permanent seats with room to add up to 1,000 more seats with outfield bleachers for postseason games. A team meeting room, locker room, film room, training room and other amenities will be built under the concourse while an indoor practice facility with batting cages will be constructed down the third base line.

Howe Field, built in 1936, will host its final games this weekend as the Ducks face NC State in the super regionals.As the Ducks prepare to host the NCAA super regional round for a fourth straight year at Howe Field, the program also received some good news about its future home.

The university announced on Tuesday that alum Bob Sanders has donated an additional $6 million to complete the Jane Sanders Stadium project. After receiving an initial donation of $10 million from Sanders for the new stadium, the Oregon athletics department started fundraising to meet the estimated project total of $16.5 million approved by the UO Board of Trustees in February and now Sanders has made the second donation.

"Mr. Sanders has made this dream a reality for our softball program," said athletic director Rob Mullens in a release. "Under head coach Mike White, our softball program has grown into a national power, deserving of a new facility. Mr. Sanders' generosity and passion for Oregon athletics will allow us to continue to provide an exceptional student experience and dramatically improve the softball fan experience. And most importantly, this great facility will honor Jane Sanders."

Jane Sanders Stadium will feature 1,500 permanent seats with room to add up to 1,000 more seats with outfield bleachers for postseason games. A team meeting room, locker room, film room, training room and other amenities will be built under the concourse while an indoor practice facility with batting cages will be constructed down the third base line.

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Track & Field

Reminder: OREGON's stellar Conference Championship wins last week will appear Sunday, May 24 at 9AM on PAC-12 TV. 

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Pac-12 names Oregon sophomore Jasmine Todd Women's Field Athlete of the Year!

OREGON sophomore Jasmine Todd (Chandler, Ariz.) was the Pac-12 Athlete of the Conference Championship Meet after accounting for 35 of her team’s 185 points, giving the Ducks a three-point win over second-place USC. A sophomore, she won the 100 meter and triple jump, also coming in second place in the long jump and fourth in the 200 meters. She also helped UO place second in the 4x100-meter relay, a race in which the Ducks needed to place fourth or better for at least a share of the Conference crown. It was the last event of the championships, as well. Todd ranks third in the country in the 100 and 17th in the triple jump. Her points were particularly important after teammate Jenna Prandini, who ranks first in the nation in the 100 and 200, scratched from the championships on the morning of the first day. Prandini who fell ill was favored to win three events.

Oregon has now won back-to-back Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Year awards with Jenna Prandini taking the honor last year.

 

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 Football

Oregon Ducks' football recruiting approach commended by Oregon high school coaches

As the 168-day evaluation period comes to a close, The Oregonian/OregonLive asked six prominent high school coaches and private instructors in the state to give their feedback on how well Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State do at identifying in-state talent that fits their program and building relationships with area high schools. The coaches' names have been substituted with a letter of the alphabet, so coaches could speak freely about each college without fear of possibly burning a bridge for their athletes. Each person interviewed is a prominent personality in high school football and has worked with all levels of future college football talent. The Oregon Ducks football program has become a national powerhouse with the recruiting chops to prove it, pulling top talent from around the country. That heightened profile has limited the number of in-state athletes that fit the Ducks' football program. That said, high school coaches have largely commended Oregon on its ability to stay connected with local talent.

How well is the Oregon coaching staff mining the state's top talent and keeping connections with the in-state high school football community?

Coach A: "I think Oregon does a phenomenal job. I think they do a better job than any Northwest school. Coach Petersen and his staff at Washington are closing the gap on them, but for the past 10 years, Oregon has been substantially ahead of the rest of the Northwest schools at identifying Northwest talent and of having great relationships with the local high school coaches and programs. I would say the second-closest school to Oregon in the Northwest is Eastern Washington, and you can see the success they are having. Right now, Oregon is head-and shoulders above the rest of the schools."

"They do a couple things. They do a great job of playing up their image. They have built a great brand and they know that. They play to their strengths of recruiting and they are at the forefront of technological advances. Whether it's uniforms, gadgets for kids or things in the locker room, they've really stayed ahead on that. The younger generation loves that stuff and they know it. The other thing is they have identified talent that fits their system, guys they want to go after. They don't necessarily offer a guy just because everyone else has offered them. A lot of schools fall in that trap. They think, 'This is a five-star guy so we are going to throw our hat in the ring, too.' Oregon doesn't care. They won't offer a guy with 20 offers or will be first to offer a guy that has none. If they watch film or watch them in person, evaluate and like what they see, they are going to go after them. They've found guys that fit their system. You could have a big-time dropback quarterback, but if he goes to Georgia Tech, he's not going to be very successful. Just because a guy is very good in high school or rated high, doesn't mean he fits your program or your style. Oregon is the leader in that, too – identifying people that fit their system and the needs they have and going after them and landing them."

Coach B: "You look at their roster over the last four or five years – Colt Lyerla, Henry Mondeaux, Alex Balducci, Keanon Lowe, Tyson Coleman, Thomas Tyner – those were all the top guys in their classes in the state of Oregon. They missed on a guy last year, but that's a need (issue)... it's not going to happen every year.  I think they do a good job of finding the best guys in the state, offering them and keeping them here. They don't always stay here, but that doesn't mean they aren't trying."

Coach C: "I think Oregon does a good job. They get who they want to get. I think in the last couple years, we've only produced 12-15 Division I football players in our entire state, so this isn't a hotbed of Division I talent. They've done a good job of keeping guys like Thomas Tyner and top players in state. ...I think they want to keep the top players in our state at home. I think that's their goal."

"I don't think (last year) was a failure on Oregon's part at all. (Cameron) Scarlett was going to go down to Stanford, which seems like a good fit for him. Oregon is loaded at running back right now. The talent at Oregon at running back is as good as anywhere in the country. This lineman from Central Catholic [Blake Brandel] is a good football player and he chose Oregon State for a reason. I don't think Oregon failed by any stretch of the imagination. Those kids chose to go elsewhere and Oregon's footprint is nationwide, so they are able to recruit from Texas and Georgia and have good representation nationwide."

Coach D: "They are not even in the ballpark at our place. We had an Oregon coach come by (recently) to watch us work out. Since I've been the head coach it was the first time an Oregon coach has been on campus or called. I'm just talking about our kids, they're obviously doing a good job recruiting good players, but to me, they don't give the kids in the state of Oregon enough respect. Unless the guy is a blue-chipper, they want them to walk on. To me, if you're good enough to get a scholarship, you're good enough to get a scholarship."

"To me, they are too big-time. They are too big-time to recruit the state of Oregon. Again, and this sounds terrible, they think they are more big-time than they are. I know they've played for some national championships, but there are kids in the state of Oregon that can play. It doesn't make a whole bunch of sense to me... if you're going to roll the dice on a kid why not roll the dice on kid from the state of Oregon compared to going down to California? And I know there's not a ton of them, but I think there are more of them than they go after, in my opinion."

Coach E: "I think they do a good job of coming around, being visible, visiting, touching base with you via email or some kind of connection. They stay in front of you. They do it for obvious reasons – when, and if, you ever do have that guy that you want. I think they do a good job of keeping relationships with the high school coaches, at least in my experiences they do that. They are on another caliber as far as kids go."

"A few years back – in Chip's days, like five years ago – they did a poor, poor job. There was a time when people started making reference to them not having kids from Oregon. I think they really turned that around and made a real conscientious effort to try to recruit some kids. They are still a national recruiter. They are going to pick away what they want to pick away in Oregon. Before this time, they'd come away with a recruiting season without anybody from Oregon. Now, they make it a priority to get a couple – even if it may be a stretch one year."

Coach F: "I think it goes back to the different talent levels we have here in Oregon. Each year is different. This year, there weren't many guys that were seniors that are coming out that deserve to be in an Oregon program. Oregon is almost forced to go out – whether it's Texas or California – to bigger places to choose from. Whenever they can, they'll get the big player. A Thomas Tyner, they'll get those guys. This year there wasn't much to pick from."




Frank Baldwin
Frank Baldwin

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