Softball: Close battle in Cathedral City

Feb. 26, 2010, 12:45 a.m.

Stanford’s two All-Americans hit all night, but it was a walk that got the Cardinal softball team its fifth consecutive victory last night in its first game of the Cathedral City Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.

Senior left fielder Alissa Haber’s seventh-inning, bases-loaded walk gave the Cardinal (9-1) a topsy-turvy 8-7 win over Tennessee (5-7).

Haber, along with sophomore second baseman and fellow All-American Ashley Hansen, combined to go six-for-seven with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored in the victory.

The pair got the game started quickly in the top of the first as Haber bunted for a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Hansen’s double.

Haber believes that it is huge for the team when she and Hansen get the Cardinal off to a good start in the first inning.

“I think from the outset of that game, we kind of set the tone there.” Haber said. “When we can score a quick run like that it really puts the momentum in our favor. From there on in, it’s a team effort.”

They picked up where they left off in Stanford’s four-run third inning, blasting back-to-back home runs following sophomore center fielder Sarah Hassman’s leadoff walk.

Haber, a three-time All-American and National Player of the Year candidate, added her second home run of the game and third of the season an inning late to extend the Cardinal lead to 5-1.

The game was far from over at that point, however.

After scoring a run in the bottom of the fourth to pull to within 6-2, the Lady Vols stormed back to take a 7-6 lead with a five-run fifth.

The big blow of the inning was a two-run single off the bat of senior second baseman Nicole Kajitani, the Lady Vols’ ninth hitter in the batting order, giving Tennessee the lead and chasing the Stanford starter, freshman Teagan Gerhart, out of the game.

Gerhart allowed 11 hits and seven runs while striking out seven in her 4.1 innings pitched.

The Cardinal tied the game the following inning when, with two outs, Tennessee reliever Ivy Renfroe walked Haber, and then intentionally walked Hansen after Haber stole second, only to get bitten by freshman shortstop Jenna Rich’s game-tying single. Rich had two hits on the day.

Despite losing the lead, Haber believed Stanford could come back.

“Teagan struggled a bit, but even after she gave up runs, I told her ‘we are going to score more runs,’ and we did. That is what this team is going to do all season–score runs,” Haber said.

Sophomore right fielder Maya Burns doubled to lead off the Cardinal seventh. Stanford’s senior catcher Rosey Neill followed with a walk, and four batters later, with the bases loaded, Haber took four straight balls to give the Cardinal the lead for good.

The Lady Vols went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, preserving the Stanford victory.

Junior Ashley Chinn (5-1) got the win in relief. The right-hander went 2.2 innings and allowed just one walk while striking out two.

Haber enjoyed the challenge Tennessee gave and hopes the Cardinal learns from it.

“I think that this was a really good test for us. Even though they are unranked, they are scrappy and are always a postseason team,” Haber said. “Both of us came out swinging. The question was who was going to get that clutch hit. It speaks volumes about our team that we were able to.”

The loss was the Lady Vols’ second of the day. They dropped their first game 4-3 to the Pacific.

Despite the late night–the game didn’t end until after 10:30 p.m.–Stanford won’t be able to rest tomorrow as it plays a doubleheader. The first game is at 3:30 p.m. against Northwestern, followed by a 6 p.m. clash with Long Beach State. The Cardinal will play three more games in the Cathedral City Classic–Texas A&M, Syracuse and UNLV.

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