SB: Oregon closes out title with win over UA

SB: Oregon closes out title with win over UA

TUCSON, AZ - Sixteenth-ranked Arizona softball hit five home runs off Oregon ace Cheridan Hawkins, but they would not be near enough as the top-ranked Ducks took the final game of the regular season in five innings, 15-7, to win the series and the Pac-12 title.

Entering the game, Hawkins (27-3) had allowed 12 home runs in 161 innings pitched on the season, never more than three in one game. On Saturday night, Kellie Fox and Katiyana Mauga each took Hawkins deep twice and Mercado added her second home run in as many games.

Arizona's five home runs, seven total runs and eight hits against Hawkins were all season-highs for the USA Softball Player of the Year finalist.

Still, Arizona could not keep up with Oregon's offensive attack, which plated 15 runs on 14 hits, paced by a seven-run first.

Though Oregon hit two fewer home runs than Arizona, the Ducks plated 10 runs on their three - thanks to a grand slam and two three-run homers - while the Wildcats brought in just six runs on their five homers, which included four solo shots.

The five Arizona home runs came off the bat of three Wildcats - Fox (2), Mauga (2) and Mercado (1). The trio combined to go 8-for-8 with seven RBI while the remaining six spots in the batting order combined to go 2-for-17.

Just as it did in the previous two games, Oregon put up multiple runs in the top of the first inning. After plating three on both Thursday and Friday, the Ducks took advantage of three Wildcat errors to put a seven-spot on the board on Saturday. Just three of the runs were earned.

Arizona responded with two runs in the home half of the inning only to have Oregon put another crooked number - a four - on the scoreboard in the second.

UA would plate three runs over the next two innings only to have the Ducks respond with another four-spot in the fourth.

Arizona put single runs up in the fourth and fifth and had the bases loaded in the fifth trying to extend the game, but could not do so, falling 15-7 in five.

The Wildcats will learn if they will be an NCAA Tournament host when the committee announces the 64-team field Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.

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