Sokolsky Shines in Two-Hit Shutout of No. 6 Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. – Elise Sokolsky threw a two-hit shutout to lead No. 21 Oregon past No. 6 Stanford, 1-0, Sunday at Smith Family Stadium.

With the win, the Ducks (28-18, 13-10) claimed the No. 3 seed to the Pac-12 Tournament and will face sixth-seeded Utah Thursday at 10 a.m.

Sokolsky struck out six, walked one and faced just three batters over the minimum in improving to 8-3 on the season. She fanned the Cardinal’s leadoff batter, Taryn Kern, three times.

“Elise was just really competitive on the mound today,” said catcher Emma Kauf. “I’m super proud of her. She knew she wanted to get the job done today and we all had her back. That’s what we were all really excited for.

“I think she was just commanding everything today and was able to keep (Stanford’s hitters) on their toes,” said Kauf. “She was working multiple speeds and able to hit corners. I think she just did a really good job of being aggressive and getting ahead in the count.”

Sokolsky became the first Duck to throw a 1-0 shutout against a top-six team since Jessica Moore blanked No. 1 California on four hits April 21, 2012.

How it Happened: Oregon scored the game’s only run in the top of the first. Ariel Carson hit a one-out single and went around third on a single into center by Kauf. 

On the next pitch, Kauf broke toward second to draw a throw from Stanford catcher Aly Kaneshiro. Kauf retreated toward first and stayed alive in a rundown long enough for Carlson to scamper home with the eventual winning run.

“We work on our first and third plays probably every day in practice so to manufacture a run – our only run – with a first and third play was pretty awesome,” said coach Melyssa Lombardi. “Today was getting one run and then being able to shutdown with our defense and with our pitching on the mound.”

After giving up a one-out single to Emily Jones in the first inning, Sokolsky retired the next 13 batters in a row. She sat down the side in order in the second, third and fourth innings and got the first two outs in the fifth before yielding her only other hit of the game, a two-out single to Caelan Koch.

“I felt like it was a good combo, just keeping all the batters off-balance,” said Sokolsky. “Just being able to mix in a little bit of change, a little bit of rise, a little bit of whatever we want to call it. Keeping them off the bases is what’s most important, especially a great hitting team like Stanford.”

Sokolsky issued her only walk of the game in the sixth inning but that runner was erased when Jones lined out to Alyssa Daniell at first, who then went to the bag for the unassisted double play.

“We had some balls in the outfield where the wind was blowing and they were able to track down,” said Lombardi. “And I just loved the double play ball that (Daniell) made in the sixth. It was huge. There could have been some big momentum there and it was shut down.”

Sokolsky closed out the win with a 1-2-3 seventh inning. The Rogers, Ark, native struck out Ava Gail to start the frame. Kaneshiro grounded out to Paige Sinicki at short for the second out of the inning. Kai Luschar then tracked down a fly ball in left off the bat of Kyra Chan for the final out of the game.

“Just gritty. I don’t think she really got what she wanted yesterday,” said Lombardi after watching Sokolsky bounce back from a five-walk outing on Saturday. “To get the ball again today, you could see her make adjustments today and really do a good job of attacking the hitters, changing speeds and she just had some great defense behind her.”


Catcher Emma Kauf on the Ducks’ run in the first

“I think we were just trying to be aggressive on the base paths. That’s something we try to use to our advantage. We were just aiming to score first that first inning and we were able to execute.”

Notable: It was Sokolsky’s first shutout as a Duck and the fourth of her career after previously throwing three for Connecticut … She is the second Duck to post a shutout this season. Morgan Scott threw a two-hit shutout Feb. 17 at San Diego State (2-0) and had a five-inning shutout Feb. 9 against Liberty (8-0) … Carlson extended her hitting streak to five games … Oregon and Stanford played the final regular season game of the Pac-12 Conference.

On Deck: Third-seeded Oregon will play No. 6 seed Utah in the Pac-12 Tournament Thursday at 10 a.m. at Stanford’s Smith Family Stadium.

“It is about momentum and you need that going into postseason so to come off a big win like that, a 1-0 win, to me it takes us into postseason in a good place and shows that in tough, gritty games like that, we can come out on top,” said Lombardi.

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