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Scouting report: UCLA softball vs. Oregon

By Nicole Augusta

March 23, 2023 7:12 p.m.

No. 3 UCLA Softball (27-3, 4-2 Pac-12) will head to Eugene this weekend coming off its second conference series win of the season to face No. 19 Oregon (19-8, 2-4). The Ducks have lost their first two Pac-12 competitions of the season and will be looking to break a six-game losing streak against the Bruins. Here is this week’s scouting report from softball contributor Nicole Augusta – who is writing her first article for the Daily Bruin, so cut her some slack.

Oregon Personnel:
Position player to watch: C Terra McGowan
Pitcher to watch: RHP Stevie Hansen
X-Factor: OF Kyla Morris

Oregon Statistics:
Batting Average: .312 (No. 33 nationally, No. 6 Pac-12)

Earned Run Average: 2.85 (No. 87 nationally, No. 5 Pac-12)

Fielding Percentage: .965 (No. 104 nationally, No. 5 Pac-12)

How does a team go from sweeping a collegiate classic to dropping its first two major series of conference play, and what does that mean for the Bruins?

The Ducks took home major victories in both the Campbell/Cartier and Mary Nutter Collegiate classics earlier this season, sweeping the former and narrowly falling short of the same feat in the latter. Though its competition was largely unranked, Oregon bested both then-No. 3 Florida and then-No. 19 Northwestern between the two tournaments.

Its mid-major wins are not too remarkable on paper, especially in light of the boxscores. Oregon has only achieved double-digit runs 7% of the time this season compared to UCLA’s 23%. Despite this fact, Oregon is ranked more than 10 places higher than UCLA nationally in terms of home runs per game, indicating the presence of a powerful yet inconsistent lineup.

Though the two teams have seen neutral-site matchups with varying results in the past, Oregon coach Melyssa Lombardi has yet to bring home a series win over UCLA in the five years of competition between the two programs since her hiring – with the last two series alone resulting in six consecutive losses for the Ducks.

Not underestimating Oregon’s potential home-field advantage will be integral going into this matchup. Stanford may have emerged with the series victory last weekend, but not before having its 21-game winning streak snapped by the Ducks during the second game of their Eugene home opener.

Oregon has put up a fight so far, resisting sweeping efforts by Stanford last weekend and Washington a week before, but it will be challenged by a UCLA squad looking to claim its first sweep of the season.

Catcher Terra McGowan is perhaps Oregon’s most well-rounded player. Not only did she claim the top spot in D1 Softball’s Catcher Power Rankings, but she is also responsible for the fifth-highest batting average on the roster. McGowan sits in the top spot as Oregon’s home run and RBI leader, making it no wonder she has started in all 27 matchups.

McGowan is making a run at the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player Award by the numbers, as her absence from a major portion of last season prevented her from leading in any team statistics in 2022. The catcher is also coming off of an All-Pac 12 First Team distinction and is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Pitcher Stevie Hansen may be on the verge of her best performance yet. So far this season, Hansen has already been credited with 12 wins during her 22 appearances, half of which she started. She leads all Ducks in both strikeouts and walks with 81 and 18 respectively, showing a knack for mowing down batters despite a lack of accuracy.

Earlier this month, Hansen topped the NCAA’s wins rankings, and she is currently at 11th – a little below UCLA’s own redshirt senior Megan Faraimo. With just one year of experience under her belt, Hansen may be what Oregon’s bullpen has been missing – as long as she can stick to the strike zone.

Comparatively, the Bruins boast higher batting averages than the Ducks among all of the former’s top-five batters. Infielder Allee Bunker and utility Vallery Wong hold the top two spots in both batting average and slugging percentage for Oregon.

Bunker is a standout, as the fifth-year infielder appears to be peaking in her collegiate career. Her 36 hits this season, five of which are home runs, already surpass the halfway mark of her 65-hit total from last season. The performance of other top hitters in outfielder Ariel Carlson and infielder KK Humphreys, aided by Bunker and McGowan, will determine whether the Ducks can rack up the home runs they may very well need this weekend.

Coming in fourth in batting average for the Ducks is outfielder Kyla Morris. She may not boast Pac-12 honors like those of her teammates but has been called on in 23 games this season despite only starting in 15 of them, and the Bruins should expect to see her one way or the other this weekend.

One thing is for certain – if a sweep is the goal, the blue and gold can’t let its guard down in Eugene this weekend.

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Nicole Augusta
Augusta is a 2023-2024 Slot editor and Sports senior staff member on the softball beat. She was previously a Copy and Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student.
Augusta is a 2023-2024 Slot editor and Sports senior staff member on the softball beat. She was previously a Copy and Sports contributor on the women's volleyball beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student.
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