UCLA finds a familiar foe at Oklahoma City in its Women's College World Series softball opener.
The Bruins (50-10) face Pac-12 Conference rival Oregon (51-6) on Thursday (6:30 p.m. PDT, ESPN2), in the fourth and final game of the day.
UCLA and Oregon met three times this season during conference play, with the Ducks winning two of three games played at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles. Those losses accounted for half the games the Bruins lost on their home field in 31 games.
The pitching matchup is between a pair of first-team All-Americans: Ally Carda for UCLA and Cheridan Hawkins of Oregon.
Hawkins, a two-time first-team All-American, is 30-3 with a 1.41 earned-run average and 269 strikeouts in 188 2/3 innings.
Carda, the Pac-12's player of the year the past two seasons, is a dual threat. As a pitcher, she has a 31-6 record, a 2.27 ERA and 270 strikeouts in 218 2/3 innings. She is also batting .316 with eight home runs and 50 runs batted in.
Allexis Bennett, another first-team All-American, paces the Bruins' offense. She is batting .514 with 20 stolen bases.
Oklahoma City provides a neutral site for the game, but Oregon Coach Mike White did his best to swing favor to his side during a news conference Wednesday. Asked why local fans should consider adopting Oregon as their team, White turned to football.
He apologized for an officiating error that helped Oregon's football team to rally for a 34-33 win over the Sooners in 2006. The Ducks rallied from a 13-point deficit in the final three minutes of that game, in part by recovering an onside kick that replay showed was touched by a Ducks player before it traveled the required 10 yards.
The play was reviewed, but Oregon kept the ball.
"I just hope that Oklahoma forgives us for that football game," White told reporters. "I was at that game, and that was a bad call."