Softball: Fullerton showdown

March 5, 2010, 12:46 a.m.
Softball: Fullerton showdown
Stanford will face significantly tougher competition this weekend at the DeMarini Invitaitonal in Fullerton. The Cardinal has gone 8-1 in its past 9 games, but it will play three very strong teams in Florida, Northwestern and North Carolina. Stanford lost to the Wildcats last weekend in Cathedral City. (Stanford Daily File Photo)

The No. 10 Stanford softball team (12-2) travels to Fullerton, Calif. this weekend to take part in the DeMarini Invitational.

The Cardinal will play five games during the three-day tournament, including a rematch with Northwestern—which beat the Cardinal last weekend—and a showdown with third-ranked Florida.

Stanford is coming off of a 4-1 showing at the Cathedral City Classic last weekend, with its only loss coming at the hands of the Wildcats.

The Cardinal relies on a powerful offense, led by a pair of All-Americans, senior left fielder Alissa Haber and sophomore second baseman Ashley Hansen.

Haber enters the weekend hitting a team-leading .489 batting average, three home runs and 16 runs batted in. Hansen, who played shortstop a year ago but moved to the right side of the diamond this year, is doing her part, hitting .409 out of the second spot in the lineup.

Also enjoying a strong early season for Stanford is senior catcher Rosey Neill. Neill is second on the team with a .429 batting average, while also managing an inexperienced pitching staff.

Leading that staff has been freshman Teagan Gerhart. Gerhart, whose twin sister Kelsey is also a freshman on the team, is 7-1 with a 2.21 earned run average. Junior Ashley Chinn has been Stanford’s other go-to pitcher this year—she is 5-1 with a 2.33 ERA.

Stanford opens its weekend in Fullerton today with its toughest test, perennial power Florida (12-1).

The Gators and the Cardinal last met two years ago at this same tournament, with Florida leaving with a 4-3 victory on Mary Ratliff’s walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.

This season the Gators are as good as ever, and they come in hot, having won 11 consecutive games. Leading the way for them is junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher. Brombacher is 10-1 with a 1.79 ERA on the year.

Much like the Cardinal, the Gators are led offensively by a senior left fielder. For Florida, that player is Francesca Enea. She is hitting .417 with six home runs and 20 RBIs on the season.

After its matchup with the Gators, Stanford will play a second game today, this one against host Cal State Fullerton (3-10). The Titans, who went 1-4 at the Cathedral City Classic last weekend, have struggled to find pitching this year. Their team ERA, amassed by four pitchers, is an astronomical 7.41.

On Saturday, Stanford will take on North Carolina in the morning before its rematch with Northwestern.

The Tar Heels (10-3) come in riding a nine-game win streak. Senior pitcher Danielle Spaulding has been a catalyst for North Carolina both offensively and in the circle, posting a 5-1 record and a 0.93 ERA, while also leading the team with three home runs and 11 RBIs.

Northwestern (6-8) has struggled this season, but managed to shut out the Cardinal last weekend, 4-0. Stanford couldn’t figure out senior pitcher Lauren Delaney, who threw a complete game one-hitter, striking out seven Cardinal batters. The lone Stanford hit came off of the bat of sophomore centerfielder Sarah Hassman.

Delaney will likely start again tomorrow as the Wildcats will try pull off another upset. For the year, she is 3-4 with a 2.30 ERA.

Stanford closes out its weekend Sunday with a single game against Indiana (5-6). Much like the Titans, the Hoosiers have struggled to find a consistent pitcher this year—they have used four that have combined for a 4.49 ERA.

After this trip to Fullerton, the Cardinal has 12 days off for exams before returning to the field March 19 for the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic at Smith Family Stadium.

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