Texas edges Oregon at Super Regional

AUSTIN, Texas — The 11th-seeded University of Oregon softball team (42-16) opened action in its third straight Super Regional with a hard-fought 4-2 loss at sixth-seeded Texas (47-11) Friday night.

"It's a game of inches, and they made a couple of key plays when they needed," Oregon head coach Mike White said. "We had opportunities to score early, but didn't capitalize. I was proud of the way we fought back in the sixth and seventh innings. We were one swing away from tying the game both times. The third baseman made a great play on a hit by our pitcher that would have scored at least one run, maybe two. Those are the differences in the game."

After a scoreless first three innings, the Longhorns scored one run in the fourth, then added three more in the fifth inning.

After leaving single runners on base in each of the first five innings, the Ducks answered with their first run in the sixth on sophomore Kailee Cuico's two-out solo homer.

Oregon brought the tying run to the plate three batters later after senior Christie Nieto walked, and sophomore Alexa Peterson doubled down the left field line.

However, Texas starter Blaire Luna (22-5) answered with a swinging strikeout to end the inning.

In the seventh inning, UO scored again when junior Kaylan Howard and senior Kelsey Chambers both singled with two outs. Howard came around to score on a failed pick-off attempt on Chambers near first base.

A four-pitch walk to Cuico put runners on first and second, but a ground-out to first base ended the game.

"We never gave up," Cuico said. "Once we started to get familiar with her, we started getting better looks, so we're not ready to go down without a fight. Jess and Blaire both pitched well, so it'll be another good game tomorrow."

At the plate for Oregon, Cuico (2-for-3) and Howard (2-for-4) led UO in hits, and three others hit safely once — Chambers (1-for-4), Nieto (1-for-2) and Peterson (1-for-2).

In the circle for UO Friday, junior Jessica Moore (30-13) pitched the first five innings, struck out three, walked none, allowed eight hits, and all four of her runs allowed were earned.

Freshman Karissa Hovinga made her postseason debut, and pitched a scoreless sixth inning that included a strikeout, no walks and one hit allowed.

Texas scored the game's first run in the fourth inning after Courtney Craig led off with a double off the left center field wall. She advanced to third base on an infield grounder, then scored on a ground-out to shortstop.

An inning later, Texas put two runners on with two outs after Taylor Hoagland and Lexy Bennett singled. Nadia Taylor followed with her 11th homer of the season and fourth of the postseason over the left field wall on a 1-1 pitch.

Luna struck out 10 — a Duck opponent season high — for the Longhorns. The three-time All-Big 12 honoree walked three, yielded five hits, and her one run allowed was earned in her 21st complete game of the campaign.

The two teams return for the second game of the three-game series today at 2 p.m.

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