By LARRY VAUGHT
Oregon was playing at home against a team it beat in the Super Regional last year. Oregon is also the nation’s top-ranked team and boasts the pitching staff most consider the best in the country.
Yet in Thursday’s game it was Kentucky with the dominant play as UK stunned No. 1 Oregon 9-6.
“They came out really aggressive, and I think today we might have come out a little complacent, and expecting to win,” Oregon sophomore outfielder Haley Cruse said in the postgame press conference. “They came out firing, and we need to come out firing tomorrow.”
The teams play again tonight. If UK wins, Kentucky goes to the World Series for the second time. If Oregon (50-8) wins, there will be a Saturday night game to decide the World Series participant.
“It’s a big gut check,” said Oregon head coach Mike White. “We’ve been in some tough games, tough situations but I don’t think we’ve down by three or four runs in a game all year.”
He did not use sophomore Miranda Elish on the mound. She’s scheduled to start tonight.
“I think Miranda’s gonna be pretty fired up,” White said. “I’m sure all three pitchers are going to be ready to go, if they have to; it’s do or die.”
“We’re prepared for this moment,” Oregon catcher Gwen Svekis said. “In my four years there have been plenty of moments that prepared us for right now. I expect us to come back tomorrow, ready to go.”
Kentucky blasted three home runs — one by Alex Martens and two by Abbey Cheek — against a pitching staff that had not allowed a run in the previous 30 innings.
“We missed over the plate and sometimes you get away with that against teams that aren’t as good, but they punished mistakes and that’s the just way it goes I guess,” Svekis said in the postgame press conference.
White has made a habit of taking Oregon to the World Series. He’s says tonight’s scenario is not complicated.
“We had a bad game. But if we want to be national champions and be the No. 1 team in the country, we have to bounce back from this,” he said.