Ducks Split Pair at the NFCA Leadoff Classic

CLEARWATER, Fla. – No. 15 Oregon spilt a pair of games Saturday at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, defeating Missouri State, 8-0, before falling to No. 5 Clemson, 3-2, in a game that was part of the first live softball telecast on MLB Network.

Oregon 8, Missouri State 0

How it Happened: Elise Sokolsy was outstanding in her first action in the circle in nearly a year. She went five shutout innings and allowed just three hits. Sokolsky struck out three and walked none in earning her first win of the season. She retired 10 batters in a row at one point. The streak ended when a runner reached on an error in the fifth inning.

“I think nerves are going to be a little bit natural especially after having to redshirt, but nothing you can’t work through,” said Sokolsky. “Having my teammates’ support really helped lift me up.

“I feel like in the beginning I did come out and I was a little on edge,” she said. “But I felt really secure in my team and what we could do the rest of the way.”

Sokolsky wriggled out of trouble in the bottom of the first after the first two batter reached base. She got the next batter to fly out and then helped her own cause by starting a 1-5-3 double play to end the inning.

Offensively, a 15-hit attack allowed the Ducks to pull away from the Bears. Oregon scored four runs through the first four innings and then topped things off with a four-run seventh.

Kai Luschar, who had a career-high four hits, led off the game with a single and went to third on Emma Kauf’s 51st career double. Ariel Carlson brought Luschar home with a sacrifice fly to left and the Ducks led 1-0 after one inning.

Oregon scored twice in the top of the second. After KK Humphreys reached on an error, Vallery Wong knocked her in with an RBI single. Two batters later, Luschar moved Wong up a base on her second hit of the game. Wong came around to score when Kauf punched a single through the right side.

The Ducks used a two-out rally to add on a run in the fourth. Luschar reached first on her third hit of the day. Kauf slapped a ball through the right side that chased Luschar to third. She scored on Carlson’s single to right.

Oregon put the game away with a four-run seventh inning. Carlson singled up the middle and stole second. Alyssa Daniell reached on a throwing error that scored Carlson for a 5-0 lead. Hanna Delgado singled and both runners moved up on Humphreys’ ground out. Wong singled through the left side and then Tehya Bird capped the scoring with a two single to make it 8-0.

Stevie Hansen pitched the final two innings and retired six of the seven batters she faced.

Carlson went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Kauf was 3-for-5 and both Wong and Bird collected two hits. Paige Sinicki went 1-for-4 and extended her hitting streak to four games.

Clemson 3, Oregon 2

How it Happened: The Ducks and Tigers put on a show for the national television audience.

Like she did in the first game Saturday, Luschar led off the contest with a single, extending her hitting streak to five games. Kauf followed with a single and then Luschar moved to third on a groundout. Daniell’s sacrifice fly to right scored Luschar. 

The Tigers (4-0) answered with a run on a sacrifice fly of their own in the bottom of the first to tie the game at 1-1.

Oregon (3-2) regained the lead in the top of the fourth with some heads up base running. Daniell singled through the right side and pinch-runner Ayanna Shaw stole second. Shaw then moved to third on a wild pitch. She scored on KK Humphreys’ sacrifice fly to center.

Clemson got the first two runners on in the bottom of the fourth and threatened to have a big inning, but Morgan Scott was able to limit the damage to two runs and the Tigers led 3-2 after four, but that would be the last runs scored in the game.

Despite that, the last three innings were played with the intensity of a high-level game between to NCAA Super Regional teams.

Clemson got its leadoff runner on in the bottom of the fifth and moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Scott responded by striking out All-American Valerie Cagle and Alia Logoleo to end the inning.

The Tigers again had a leadoff runner reach base in the sixth inning, but Taylour Spencer came out of the bullpen and retired the side with a flyout and a 6-3 double play.

Wong reached base with two outs in the seventh, but Bird struck out to end the game.

Scott gave up three runs on seven hits to fall to 1-1 on the year. She struck out four and walked one.


P Elise Sokolsky on returning to the field after redshirting the 2023 season

“It’s been awesome. It’s just a blessing to come back and be a Duck with my fellow teammates. It’s an amazing feeling. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Noteworthy: Sokolsky made her first appearance since Feb. 19, 2023, against UC Riverside … The game with Missouri State was the first time the Ducks and Bears played since the 1980 AIAW World Series, while Oregon and Clemson met for the first time on the softball diamond … The Tigers were the third of three 2023 NCAA Tournament teams the Ducks will face this weekend (Kansas, Liberty).

On Deck: Oregon wraps up the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a single game on Sunday versus Army (7 .m. PT, GameChanger App).