EUGENE — Senior Cheridan Hawkins threw a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts as the fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks opened new Jane Sanders Stadium with a 2-0 win over Stanford on Thursday night.
In front of a sold out crowd of 1,626, Oregon improved to 24-4 (4-0 Pac-12) with the victory, its 15th straight win. That matches the longest win streak by the Ducks under coach Mike White.
The Ducks are also 1-0 on their new home field, a state-of-art $17.2 million total softball facility.
“I never thought I was going to get a chance to walk into a new stadium during my career,” said senior Koral Costa, who has been part of three straight Pac-12 championships while the Ducks played at Howe Field. “Now to realize I get to play on this field, it’s unreal. I’m flabbergasted. The showers, the bathrooms, the locker room, it’s all spectacular. We have our own practice area too. It’s all so unbelievable.”
For many years the dream of a new stadium was just a dream. That changed on June 7, 2014, when Oregon alum Bob Sanders made the first of two donations totaling $16 million to get the ball rolling on a new stadium in honor of his late wife, Jane. The couple had met at the UO, where Bob was a football player and Jane was a cheerleader. More recently, Jane and her grandchildren took an interest in Oregon softball, often watching games together.
That led to the Sanders’ family largesse and the construction of The Jane following the end of the 2015 season. Oregon’s players moved into the new facility on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Hawkins walked the first batter she faced at The Jane, but responded with three straight strikeouts in the top of the first. Because of a wild pitch in the second inning, Hawkins recorded seven strikeouts through the first two innings.
“I was a little bit nervous because we had never palyed here before,” Hawkins said. “We really wanted to get this stadium started the right way with some good juju.”
Jenna Lilley hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the first that provided the only runs of the game.
Alyssa Gillespie started the inning with the first hit at the new stadium, a bunt single back to the pitcher. She took second on a sacrifice bunt before Koral Costa drew a walk. After Gillespie moved to third on a fly out, Costa stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position for Lilley. The sophomore came through with a single to right center.
Oregon left six runners on base throughout the rest of the game while Stanford stranded seven baserunners.
Hawkins, a lefthander, walked two and hit two in the complete-game two-hitter.
“Watching that video about Jane Sanders (before the game), you realize what this field is for, it’s for such a great woman,” Hawkins said. “It’s an absolute honor to be chosen to throw that first pitch on that rubber in this stadium. Just being aggressive helped. My team scoring those runs, it made it easier to be aggressive .”
Oregon’s streak of 20 straight games with a home run ended and it was also just the second game of the year where the Ducks did not tally a double.
CALIFORNIA 4, OREGON STATE 0
CORVALLIS — A fourth-inning grand slam by Annie Aldrete was all California needed to top 24th-ranked Oregon State in the Beavers’ home opener at the OSU Softball Complex.
The Bears (12-11-1, 1-1-1 Pac-12) got nine hits — three by Jazmyn Jackson, off Oregon State’s Meehra Nelson and Bev Miller. Nelson (11-4) took the loss after giving up six hits and two walks with four strike outs.
Oregon State (20-8-1, 0-4 Pac-12) had seven hits — three by Lovie Lopez — but stranded eight runners.
“We’re just not getting the timely hits,” Oregon State coach Laura Berg said. “Two out of three games against Utah we left 11 runners on, and we left eight on today. We are just not getting the timely hit. We’re just not tracking the ball and aren’t playing like the same hitting team from the beginning of the season.”
Lopez hit her Pac-12-leading 10th double, while McKenna Arriola went 2-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.
Cal’s Kourtney Shaw (5-2) earned the win, walking one and allowing two hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief. She was the Bears’ third pitcher in the game.