Top-seeded Oregon rolls past Arizona State at WCWS
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – It wasn't what Oregon coach Mike White expected, but he'll take it.
Shannon Rhodes' three-run homer in the sixth inning helped top-seeded Oregon defeat Arizona State 11-6 in seven innings Thursday at the Women's College World Series.
White figured the game would be about pitching, but it was high scoring from the start. Oregon dominated Giselle "G'' Juarez, Arizona State's All-American pitcher. Juarez pitched a complete game, but she gave up 14 hits and 10 earned runs.
Oregon pitcher Miranda Elish recovered from a rough start against the Ducks' Pac-12 rival and increased her career record to 37-1. She gave up five runs and six hits in five innings.
"If you had told me that's going to be 17 runs scored off those two pitching staffs to start the game, I'd have thought you were crazy," White said. "It was definitely a dogfight."
Oregon (53-8) will play the Oklahoma-Washington winner on Friday. Arizona State (48-12) faces elimination on Saturday.
White chose to start Elish, a second-team NFCA All-American, over first-team All-American Megan Kleist. That appeared to backfire early — DeNae Chatman homered to put Arizona State up 2-0 in the first inning. Oregon bounced right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
"It was awesome to get the start, and my offense had my back the whole entire time," Elish said. "I gave up a two-run home run to start off the game, and they (the offense) punched ASU right back, and put up two runs. So definitely, our offense really saved us today."
Oregon's Lauren Burke tripled and knocked in three runs in the third to put Oregon up 5-2.
Arizona State's Morgan Howe hit a three-run homer in the fifth to cut the Ducks' lead to 6-5. Oregon responded with two runs in the fifth and the Rhodes homer in the sixth. Kleist pitched two innings to get the save.
Oregon won two of three games from the Sun Devils during the regular season. In this one, Arizona State committed two errors and made some other uncharacteristic mistakes.
"We've seen each other now, this is our fourth game against each other, so it's going to be a matter of who minimizes the mistakes and takes advantage of opportunities, and Oregon was able to come out on top on that," Arizona State coach Trisha Ford said.
Oregon is a regular at the WCWS, while the Sun Devils are here for the first time since 2013. Ford said inexperience was a factor.
"I think the speed of the game got to us a little bit today," Ford said. "You know, we'll be ready to go for our next game, but very proud of their effort and very proud of their fight."