Ducks Walk It Off With Delgado On Hand

By Rob Moseley

EUGENE, Ore. — An emotional acknowledgment for an injured teammate turned to jubilation a few minutes later as the Oregon softball team beat Oregon State in walk-off fashion Friday, 11-3 in six innings.

The Ducks kicked off the three-game series with a win, and did so with senior Hanna Delgado watching from the dugout, seven days after a neck injury that required season-ending surgery.

With the Ducks leading 8-3 in the middle of the sixth inning Friday, the season-high Jane Sanders Stadium crowd of 2,060 fans began chanting Delgado’s name, which she acknowledged by stepping out of the dugout and waving. In the bottom of the inning, Delgado’s teammates kept the positive emotions flowing by rallying for three runs, with Katie Flannery hitting a walk-off single that scored Vallery Wong.

KK Humphreys, one of Delgado’s fellow seniors, hit a three-run homer in the fifth, then had tears in her eyes during the crowd’s acknowledgment of Delgado, she said.

“I can’t imagine your season ending like that,” Humphreys said. “But to see her so powerful and so strong and so happy — happy to be with us — it just shows who Hanna is.”

The win was the first for the Ducks in a Pac-12 series opener since March 22, when they beat Arizona State to kick off a three-game sweep at The Jane.

“It was huge for us,” said junior outfielder Kai Luschar, who scored three runs and drove in two Friday. “I think we’re all just playing for Hanna right now, and just being super grateful we’re able to play the game. Getting the first one was huge, and I think we had a blast.”

How It Happened: After a 1-2-3 top of the first for UO starter Morgan Scott, the Ducks gave her the lead. Luschar and Ariel Carlson singled to start the bottom of the first, and an error on a double steal brought Luschar around to score.

In the second, Tehya Bird’s one-out double put two runners in scoring position, and Paige Sinicki dropped down a bunt to score Flannery, who had been hit by a pitch to open the inning. Sinicki reached on the play and stole second, before Luschar singled to score both Bird and Sinicki. Emma Kauf made it 5-0 with a single to score Luschar.

The Beavers got a run back in the third, but Humphreys came off the bench for her three-run homer in the fifth, the first pinch-hit home run for the Ducks this season.

“We always harp on how much versatility we have,” Humphreys said. “… Trying to put myself in an opponent’s shoes, I don’t think I’d know where to play, knowing certain people in the lineup can hit the long ball or bunt for hits. It just creates havoc.”

A two-run homer got OSU back within 8-3 in the top of the sixth. Then came the home crowd’s emotional acknowledgment of Delgado.

“It’s great to have her back,” UO coach Melyssa Lombardi said. “I think we all look at Hanna and what she dealt with and how she handled it, for all of us just to see her back here, it’s kind of crazy. …

“She’s been so positive, and understanding the big picture: Being able to walk way from that injury and know she’s going to have a full recovery is the most important thing.”

Luschar walked and stole second to open the bottom of the sixth — her Pac-12-leading 24th steal of the season — and she scored on another RBI single by Kauf. After a single by Alyssa Daniell, Wong doubled to score Kauf, though the potential winning run in Daniell was thrown out at the plate. Flannery made sure that didn’t matter, though, driving in Wong to end the game.

Up Next: Game two of the series is Saturday (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

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