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Bruins feast on struggling Ducks.

Byline: Shawn Miller The Register-Guard

If anyone knows the motivational speaker Matt Foley, the Oregon softball team could use a visit.

Whether Chris Farley's Saturday Night Live character would inspire, motivate or just get a laugh, a lack of confidence is a key element in the Ducks' losing five of their last six games - including all three this weekend.

"I think this weekend we lacked the confidence that we are capable of having," Oregon center fielder Sari-Jane Jenkins said. "I think right now everyone individually needs to build themselves back up."

On Sunday at Howe Field, 15th-ranked UCLA (28-11, 4-4 Pac-10) jumped on 11th-ranked Oregon (37-8, 3-5) early and never let up, winning 5-1.

For the second consecutive game, the Ducks were held to three hits - singles by Suzie Barnes, Jenn Salling and Jenkins.

"We didn't hit the ball with a lot of authority," Oregon coach Kathy Arendsen said. "I think UCLA found a roll, they got it going and I think we are looking for that. It is so contagious. All it's going to take is one or two hitters starting to hit shots, and it's gonna connect and we're all gonna fly."

Alicia Cook - Oregon's other pitcher - missed the game because of a reoccurring illness, forcing Oregon starter Melissa Rice to throw a complete game.

After allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Bruins on Saturday, Rice responded by allowing five runs on nine hits Sunday. Although it wasn't the performance she wanted, Rice said it was a slight confidence boost.

"I feel a lot better," she said. "I had two mess-up pitches, but I think I made the right adjustments. Toward the second inning on, they were hitting the ball on the ground and that is my job."

Lisa Dodd drilled a solo home run with two outs in the top of the first inning to give the Bruins their first run. In the third inning, Krista Colburn hit a two-run blast over the left-center-field fence for a 3-0 lead.

The Ducks responded when Salling scored on a squeeze play by Joanna Gail in the fourth inning. Salling, who led off the inning with an infield single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ann Marie Topps and took third on an error during a misplayed ball that Neena Bryant hit. With one out and runners on the corners, Gail dropped a sacrifice down the third-base line and Salling was able to score as the ball was being fielded.

UCLA responded with two runs in the fifth by leading off with three consecutive singles, including an RBI single by Jaisa Creps. With runners on the corners and no outs, Dodd hit into a double play, but another run scored to give the Bruins the final margin.

Oregon, which entered Sunday's game with a team batting average of .333, scored only six runs on 12 hits during its three-game losing streak. The Ducks struck out a combined 32 times in those games.

"It's not so much making adjustments mechanically, it's just making adjustments mentally," Salling said. "Just not so much thinking about where your hands are, where the bat head is. It's all mental right now."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 16, 2007
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