Oregon Hits Road, Faces No. 14 UW and No. 1 UCLA

Sports Editor
Oregon Daily Emerald
Oregon State University

Once again the Oregon softball team will be without senior pitcher Amy Harris, who is scheduled to have an MRI performed Friday on her pitching shoulder.

Oregon faced No. 14 Washington (28-13 overall, 2-5 Pacific-10 Conference) Saturday in Seattle before heading south for the last of two games at No. 1 UCLA (34-3, 6-1) Sunday.

The Ducks (19-13, 1-3), who swept UCLA last season for the first time in school history, are intent on not overlooking Washington. Oregon coach Kathy Arendsen doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“Most of our team is from the Northwest; I have no issue with getting them to focus on Washington,” Arendsen said. “Washington is one of our rivals and we definitely are focused on beating them.”

Easier said than done – UCLA has a five-game winning streak since its only conference loss, a 10-3 setback to then-No. 9 California. Not to mention the Bruins will likely remember last season’s results.

“I think we need to come out and play Washington really,” Oregon shortstop Breanne Sabol said. “I think focus more on them first before even UCLA. I don’t think we are really looking at UCLA right now; just going up to beat the Huskies, one of our rivals.”

Meanwhile, Harris says the Ducks excel at not looking ahead at the schedule.

“I think our team does pretty well on focusing on the job at hand, focusing on the moment and not looking to the next day,” she said. “You are only given so many games during a season and you just have to take each game for what it is worth and not look past anyone.”

Regardless, no one is denying the two games against UCLA will be important not only to the Ducks’ record but to morale as well. Harris thinks this matchup will be tougher than last season.

“I feel like they are a little bit better team at this point this year than they were last year,” Harris said. “I know they are hitting the ball and they are definitely picking up a lot of wins this year. They’ve always been a competitive team and a really tough offense.

“It’s just a matter of pitchers keeping them off balance, not making the costly errors and getting the timely hits when we need them. It’s pretty much the approach every game, but obviously any win is a good win and we need any win we can get. I’m sure that they’re going to be out to get us just as we are out to get them.”

Harris’ disappointing final season at Oregon continues to frustrate. She won’t travel with the team this weekend in an effort to rehab and relax her shoulder, and team doctors are currently investigating the injury.

“I’m just trying to accept it and not get too depressed about it and just hope something can happen to make it better,” Harris said.

UCLA and Washington make a return trip to Howe Field beginning May 5. The Ducks will host the Bruins at 4 p.m. that day before 1 p.m. games Saturday and Sunday against the Huskies to close out the home portion of Oregon’s schedule.