Season for the ages
The Ducks finished the best season in program history with a record 56 wins, a .856 winning percentage, their first No. 1 national ranking, and third trip to the Women’s College World Series.
* Made Women’s College World Series
OKLAHOMA CITY — Jackie Traina threw a four-hitter to help Alabama beat Oregon 2-0 on Sunday in the Women’s College World Series, ending the national championship hopes of the top-ranked Ducks.
The Ducks (56-9-1) went 2-2 at the WCWS, with wins over Florida State and defending champion Oklahoma. Oregon lost to Florida and Alabama, Southeastern Conference rivals that will meet in the best-of-three championship series beginning today.
Alabama scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning Sunday, and that was all Traina needed. She struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
“For Jackie to shut out that offense is incredible,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to Jack and our defense.”
Haylie McCleney homered in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie, but the second run was not as clear. Molly Fichtner connected for a single with two outs, and Kaila Hunt went for home. Hunt made a move in an attempt to score, and it was ruled that she avoided a tag on a throw that got there first.
“I had a pretty good view,” Oregon coach Mike White said. “I know the ball quickly beat her by a long way. Got the tag on her. If it was 50-50, she should be out in my opinion. If the ball beats you, you should be out, I don’t care how close it was. It’s just a shame it couldn’t have been a one-run game going into the last inning.”
Hunt believed the right call was made.
“There was no hesitation, and the catcher started to come across the plate, so I just tried to go to the inside,” she said. “It was kind of awkward, because I usually try to go to the outside part of the plate. So I don’t know, I haven’t seen the replay, but it felt pretty awkward.”
Alabama took that 2-0 lead into the top of the seventh, and the Ducks had one last shot. Oregon’s Kailee Cuico hit a single that brought the tying run to the plate with no outs. Janelle Lindvall put one over the left-field fence, but it barely sailed foul, and she struck out looking on the next pitch.
Koral Costa singled with two outs to keep the Ducks alive, but Traina struck out the final batter.
“Jackie, she is throwing awesome,” Fichtner said. “She is hitting her spots, doing everything we need her to.”
Until Cuico’s leadoff single in the seventh inning, Courtney Ceo accounted for Oregon’s only two hits.
Karissa Hovinga, who appeared twice in relief earlier in the weekend, got her first start in Oklahoma City against the Crimson Tide. After she gave up a one-out single in the fourth inning, she was replaced by All-America left-hander Cheridan Hawkins, who retired the first two batters she faced to keep the game scoreless going into the fifth inning.
Oregon would have needed to beat Alabama again later Sunday to advance to the championship series.