The Oregon Ducks are one of eight softball teams that will begin play in the 2017 Women’s College World Series on Thursday evening at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma. The Ducks are led by three young pitchers, a sophomore and two freshman. One of those freshman is West Grove, PA native, Maggie Balint.
Balint, a 5’8 right-hander, is 21-3 on the season with an ERA of 1.23, good for third in the PAC-12. She has struck out 151 batters in 125 innings pitched and her .171 opponent batting average leads the conference.
Combined with teammates Megan Kleist (So.) and Miranda Elish (Fr.), the trio sport a 1.33 ERA, good for fifth in the NCAA. It’s the lowest team ERA the Ducks have had since 1993.
The Ducks enter the Women’s College World Series as the No. 3 seed and will face Pac-12 rival Washington on Thursday (4 p.m. PT, ESPN2). The Huskies have an ace of their own in Taran Alvelo.
A massive crowd is expected to witness the eight team tournament at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium. The Ducks are used to playing in Jane Sanders Stadium, which holds up to 2,517 fans. Listed capacity for the WCWS is three times that.
A three-time Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year, Balint ended her high school career at Avon Grove High School with 1,322 strikeouts, the second most in Pennsylvania state history. After going 24-4 in her senior year with a 0.50 ERA, one perfect game and five no-hitters, Balint was ranked the No. 4 recruit in the nation by FloSoftball.com.
Now, in the midst of the biggest experience of her softball career, Balint looks to help the Oregon Ducks to a National Title.