By Maren Angus
When Oregon’s Director of Operations Jessica Kirby paired roommates together for the opening weekend of 2018, she didn’t think the results from one room would produce massive numbers.
When senior Gwen Svekis and sophomore Shannon Rhodes got their room assignment for the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, they didn’t think anything of it. Hitting home runs in each of the first three games was just coincidence right?
“There wasn’t a contest but now there is, I think,” joked Rhodes after the team’s 15-6 win over CSUN. “It’s pretty cool to be able to go with one of my better friends on the team, a senior, and go neck-to-neck with her. There was no competition but now there is.”
Svekis continued the home run hitting into the fourth game against Missouri and jumped ahead of Rhodes in the friendly competition.
“I think we have a good little thing going where if I hit one she’s trying to hit one and vice versa,” Svekis said after Oregon’s game against CSUN. “I think it’s healthy and good and working in our favor right now.”
In 2017, Rhodes hit .336. She had 48 hits, eight doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 46 runs batted in. Svekis hit .309 with 50 hits, four doubles, 10 homers and 42 RBIs. Through six games in 2018, last year’s numbers will be smashed.
As a senior, Svekis is not afraid of anything; she trusts herself and her pitch selection. Of her eight hits this season, five are home runs and she leads the team with 12 RBIs. Her slugging percentage is 1.438 and her on-base percentage is .600.
The irony in all of this is that Rhodes hits right before Svekis in the lineup.
In 18 at bats, Rhodes collected 10 hits. She hit for a .556 average with 11 runs scored, one double, three home runs and nine RBIs. She slugged a 1.111, walked twice, struck out once, stole two bases and had an on-base percentage of .600.
“Gwen and I do a lot of hitting together with Coach (Jimmy) Kolaitis,” Rhodes said. “We are just really comfortable, seeing the ball well and trusting our preparation in the box.”
As a team, the Ducks scored 73 runs and launched 17 home runs over the weekend, more than a third of last year’s 62-game total (46). Seven different athletes on the roster hit at least homer. DJ Sanders hit four and Jenna Lilley hit two. Lilley only hit one in 2017.
“Sometimes the game is fun but we also know this game can humble you in the moment,” said head coach Mike White. “Right now, we are seeing the ball really well and having some good success.”
This weekend, Rhodes will look to even out the roommate contest with Svekis and lead the hot-hitting Ducks, who are averaging 12.17 runs per game, in Puerto Vallarta this weekend against Houston, Texas, Rutgers and Ole Miss.
“I think we might have to get our Director of Operations to get us to be roommates every weekend,” joked Rhodes.