Oregon's Haley Cruse Readies For Final Season As A Duck
If you haven't seen her on the softball field, you've probably seen her on TikTok, Instagram or Twitter.
Oregon outfielder Haley Cruse is the new face of softball for her generation, but her stardom goes far beyond what she posts on social media.
This year, Cruse became the first player in Oregon's program history to lead the team in hitting for three straight years. Before her senior season ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she ranked second in the Pac-12 in hits with 37, fourth in runs with 30 scored and tied for the conference lead with 15 stolen bases. She led the Ducks in all three categories as well as on-base percentage (.505) in 2020. Those numbers were good enough to earn Cruse a spot on SA's 2020 Shortened Season All-America list.
With so much promise shown by Cruse and the Ducks on the field during her abbreviated senior season, she knew it was a no-brainer for her to return to college softball in 2021.
"I had always known that I wanted to come back," Cruse, who will take advantage of the NCAA's eligibility waiver next season for spring sport student-athletes, told Softball America. "That was never really something I was conflicted about, but as soon as I heard the NCAA was allowing people to come back, I reached out to my coach."
Upon returning to Eugene, Ore. in the fall, Cruse will pursue a master's degree in advertising and brand responsibility. Although she will be at the same university, there will be a lot of new faces on her team this fall. Only one of her two senior teammates will be returning with her, along with a new class of freshmen.
Cruse, who helped Oregon to a 22-2 record in 2020, says she and her teammates are just excited for the opportunity to play again.
"We're not going to take anything for granted this year," Cruse said. "We're just going to enjoy each other and enjoy the experience."
With classes set to start in September and much still unknown about the start of college athletics in the fall, Cruse emphasized the factors that she believes will help the Ducks be successful on the field this coming season.
She says, "preparing now and not using this time as a vacation," as well as "knowing our expectations and really helping to guide the incoming class," will give the Ducks an edge on the field next year.
Until then, Cruse is focused on her own preparations for her final season as a Duck. In addition to maintaining her social media accounts, Cruse is working out at her home in San Diego, Calif., taking frequent trips to the batting cages and waiting patiently for her return to Jane Sanders Stadium.