The Stanford softball team opened up its season this weekend in Honolulu, Hawaii as one of four teams competing in the Paradise Softball Classic. The tournament saw the Cardinal take on Hawaii (3-2), McNeese State (1-4) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-3) in five games over three days. No. 10 Stanford (4-1) won its first four games but lost in the tournament final to Hawaii.
Stanford started the weekend off on a high note, taking its first game by a final score of 10-2 in five innings over Corpus Christi. Freshman shortstop Jenna Rich and senior catcher Rosey Neill led the Cardinal offense with three hits apiece. Rich hit the game’s only homerun.
Stanford’s pitching was equally impressive in the season opener. Junior Ashley Chinn and freshman Teagan Gerhart combined to shut down Corpus Christi’s offense, allowing a total of three hits. Chinn allowed no runs in three innings while striking out six, while Gerhart allowed two runs over her two innings of work in her Stanford debut.
The next day, the Cardinal returned for two more games against McNeese State and Hawaii. As expected, Stanford rolled against the Cowgirls, winning another mercy-rule shortened game. The offense rapidly scored runs, starting with senior outfielder Alissa Haber’s leadoff home run. Sophomore outfielder Maya Burns led all Stanford hitters with three RBIs.
In her first collegiate start, Gerhart was impressive in shutting down the McNeese State lineup. She allowed only three hits and no runs and pitched the entire game. The Cardinal took home the win with a final score of 9-0 in five innings.
The Card’s first real test of the weekend came on Friday afternoon against Hawaii. Unlike its first two games, the Stanford offense struggled against Hawaii’s pitching. It only managed to get six hits and two runs (one of them unearned) off Hawaii’s Stephanie Ricketts.
However, Stanford’s pitching continued to be dominant. In her second start in as many days, Chinn completely shut down Hawaii’s hitters for the full seven innings. She allowed only one hit and gave up three walks while setting down 10 batters on strikes. On the back of this performance, Stanford took its third straight victory, 2-0, and won the first seed for Sunday’s playoff.
The Cardinal opened up Sunday’s knockout round with a decisive 5-2 victory over A&M-Corpus Christi. Rich once again led the offense, with two home runs in back-to-back at-bats. Neill also contributed with two RBIs.
On the mound, Gerhart and Chinn combined again to shut down the Islanders’ offense. Gerhart got the start and allowed only one earned run over six innings, striking out five batters and walking none.
While the Cardinal was expected to roll past Hawaii to the Paradise Softball Classic championship, the Rainbow Wahine refused to go down easily. In a big upset, Hawaii came alive and pounded Stanford in the final, winning the game 11-5.
While Stanford’s pitching had dominated the Rainbow Wahine offense in the first meeting, fatigue appeared to have finally caught up with the duo of Chinn and Gerhart. Chinn started the game by giving up a run in the top of the first inning. While she shut down Hawaii’s hitters for the next two innings, they scored runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Going into the seventh and final inning, Hawaii held a slim 6-5 lead.
In the top of the seventh, after giving up another run, Chinn came out of the game in favor of Gerhart, a switch that proved costly for Stanford. Gerhart proceeded to give up four more runs to the Rainbow Wahine (though only one of them was earned), allowing the hosts to take a commanding 11-5 lead with only half an inning remaining. Stanford failed to rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Hawaii preserved its six-run lead for the win.
In her second outing against the Cardinal, Ricketts pitched a strong game, allowing eight hits and five runs in seven full innings. While Ricketts’ performance was not as strong as her first game against Stanford, it was enough to deliver victory for the Rainbow Wahine.
The Cardinal’s next challenge will come this weekend as the Farm plays host to the Stanford Nike Invitational. Stanford’s first game is on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Illinois.