There's just something in the water in Eugene, Oregon.
Not just the crystal, pure water of the Willamette River that cuts through the city of Eugene, but that fact that leaving Eugene and the University of Oregon as an athlete is a tough decision.
Haley Cruse is next on that Duck Mt. Rushmore.
On Thursday morning, the Oregon softball prodigy made the anouncement on Twitter:
I am so grateful for your unwavering support and patience throughout this difficult and uncertain time. I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on my time as a Duck and the memories I have made over the past four years. My experience as a Duck has helped me find my identity not only as a player, but also as a person… - Haley Cruse
— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) May 7, 2020
This is all possible because the NCAA granted another year of eligibility for spring sports athletes whose season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is this such a huge deal? Because Cruse is a program changer and has done so amidst so much that has happened throughout her career at Oregon.
Following her sophomore year, then head coach Mike White left for the head coaching vacancy at Texas. A lot of players also found new homes on different teams, most of which followed White to Texas. He was then replaced by current coach Melyssa Lombardi in 2019.
In 2018, Oregon softball posted a 53-10 overall record while going 21-3 in Pac-12 conference play.
In 2019, the Ducks posted a 22-30 overall record while going 5-19 in Pac-12 conference record.
Cruse has been the backbone of this program for the past two years. And now Ducks fans will get one more season.
Before the pandemic struck, the Ducks were 22-2 in non-conference play, ranked No. 8 in the country and about to start Pac-12 Conference play. Check out Cruse's stats during this play:
Just how good of a season was @haley_crusee having, you ask?
🥎 Top 5 in the Pac-12 in AVG, runs, hits, SBs
🥎 Only Power 5 player with at least 15 SBs and not get thrown out
🥎 .457 average would be 3rd-best ever in a season at Oregon#GoDucks pic.twitter.com/eOejmVYqgM
— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) March 25, 2020
More good news for the Ducks, senior pitcher Samaria Diaz will also be returning next season:
Legion of arms. Our pitching staff finished in the top 15 nationally in FIVE major stat categories.
4th - K/BB ratio, runs allowed/game
10th - Total runs allowed
11th - Strikeouts, ERA#GoDucks pic.twitter.com/cu412xrrtE
— Oregon Softball (@OregonSB) March 30, 2020
Haley Cruse has some unfinished business, will return to Oregon next season originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest