The (Albany) Democrat-Herald
The University of Oregon softball team wrapped up its second straight Pac-12 Conference championship last weekend, and the Ducks were rewarded for their efforts.
When the final college softball polls were released on Tuesday, the Ducks sat atop the rankings in both national polls.
The Ducks, who begin NCAA regional play today, have been ranked No. 1 in both polls for six straight weeks.
Oregon (49-7-1) climbed to No. 1 for the first time in school history following a series victory over then-top-ranked UCLA in early April. The Ducks stayed right there.
Today, Oregon will welcome Albany (N.Y.), Utah Valley University and Wisconsin for the start of the three-day, double-elimination Eugene Regional at Howe Field. The Ducks are the No. 1 overall seed in the 64-team field.
Eugene is one of 16 regional sites.
Up first for the Ducks is No. 4 seed Utah Valley (18-40), the Western Athletic Conference tournament champion. The Wolverines are making their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history.
The game will air live on Pac-12 Networks at 5 p.m.
Utah Valley and Oregon played a doubleheader on April 29 in Eugene. The Ducks won 8-0 and 5-4.
In the pod’s other first-round matchup, Wisconsin (34-18) will face Albany (33-11) at 2 p.m.
The winner of the Eugene regional will advance to the super regionals, which begin the following weekend.
As the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, the Ducks are guaranteed to host a super regional if they successfully navigate their own regional.
Oregon is one of five Pac-12 teams in the tournament field. Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State were selected as at-large teams.
On Wednesday, the Ducks were well-represented as the Pac-12 announced its annual awards.
Coach Mike White was named the coach of the year for the second straight season.
Sophomore Cheridan Hawkins was named the Pac-12 pitcher of the year after going 30-4 with an earned run average of 1.56. She has recorded 283 strikeouts in 206 1⁄3 innings this season.
Courtney Ceo was recognized as the Pac-12 player of the year. She hit .481 with a team-leading 54 runs scored and 32 RBIs.
Oregon’s Alexa Peterson and Janie Takenda were also named first-team all-conference.