Pacific Softball: Shepard's Stellar Showing Leads The Tigers To The Upset Of No. 13 Oregon
Led by their freshman Tori Shepard in the circle, the Pacific softball team upset No. 13 Oregon, 4-2, on Saturday, February 26. The win for the Tigers improved their record to 6-2 overall and 2-0 at the tournament while the Ducks fell to 10-2 on the year and 0-1 at the tournament.
The win for Shepard was her second of the year and first over a ranked opponent as she improved to 2-1. The Lodi High School graduate held the No. 13 ranked Ducks in relative check throughout the contest as she gave up just five hits and two runs while striking out three.
For three innings, of action, Shepard went through the Duck order without giving up a hit and allowing just one base-runner on one of her two walks issued during the contest. In the fourth, Shepard would relinquish her first hit and her only runs as Allie Burger led the inning off with a single to center before Kailee Cuico struck for a two-run home run three batters later to put Oregon ahead for the first time in the game. Shepard got some help earlier in the inning from her sophomore catcher Amy Moore as the Valencia, Calif. native picked Burger off second after the Ducks had put runners on first and second with no outs in the inning.
Despite giving up two runs on one swing in the fourth, the freshman hurler settled back into a groove against the Ducks for the remainder of the game, holding Oregon off the board while her offense picked up their young pitcher with a late rally.
"It was a great job by Tori keeping us in the game until we could put a rally together," said head coach Brian Kolze.
The rally for the Tigers would commence in the bottom of the sixth as Pacific broke through against Oregon's Samantha Skillingstad, who had entered the contest a perfect 4-0 on the year. Starting with a leadoff double from senior Lindsey Pierce, the Tigers put the pressure on the Ducks with by loading the bases with just one out in the inning as sophomore Megan Hom followed Pierce with an infield single while junior Nicole Matson worked a one-out walk.
With the bases loaded, the Tigers got back their two runs given up to the Ducks in the fourth on back-to-back RBI walks to sophomores Nikki Armagost and Megan Allen. Tied at 2-2, Moore picked her freshman pitcher up once again, this time lining a double to right-center field that would plate what would be the game-winning runs for the Tigers. Shepard would make her first lead of the game hold up in the top of the seventh as induced a pair of popups on two pitches to start the inning while finishing off the Ducks with a strike out.
"It was a great clutch hit by Amy and a tremendous job by Tori," stated Kolze.
Skillingstad saw action twice in the contest for Oregon as she reentered the game as after a pair of relievers could not hold back the Tigers' rally in the sixth. In total, the Ducks' starter went 5.2 innings pitched with four hits and one run against while striking out five. In relief, Mikayla Endicott was tagged with the loss as she gave up one hit and a pair of runs in just 0.1 innings pitched.
Offensively, Pierce, Hom and Moore led the way with two hits a piece while Armaost extended her 23 game on-base streak in the Tigers' final at bat with her RBI walk.
Pacific will be in action at 12:00 pm at Bill Simoni Field against San Jose State during day two action of the Libby Matson Tournament.