Softball trounces Davis 17-0 in five innings
After a disappointing finish to last weekend’s series against Cal, Stanford’s softball team stormed back yesterday with a 17-0 drubbing of UC-Davis in a mercy rule-shortened game. The No. 8 Cardinal (28-5, 2-1 Pac-10) will continue conference play this weekend in a three-game series against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore.
“We knew we had to come in and play better defense,” said Stanford head coach John Rittman. “We needed to give ourselves better at-bats, and we did that. It was a nice bounce-back victory.”
After freshman starting pitcher Teagan Gerhart shut down the Aggie offense in the top of the first inning, Stanford’s offense prepared to face Davis starter Dana Waldusky, who came into the game with a 5-9 season record.
The Cardinal exploded in that inning, scoring a total of 15 runs on the Aggies. Gerhart, hitting seventh in the order, was also an offensive star. In the inning, she had five RBIs, four of which came on a grand slam the second time through the order. Her first RBI came on a double, which scored sophomore right fielder Maya Burns from second base.
Stanford’s other big offensive star of the first inning was senior catcher Rosey Neill, who scored twice and had two RBIs on one hit.
In the inning, the Aggies used three pitchers — Waldusky, Alex Holmes and Marissa Araujo. Davis’s pitching was not the only dreadful aspect of its play — the Aggie defense also played poorly, committing two errors, including a critical one by Waldusky in the first inning.
After the game, Rittman talked about the Cardinal’s first inning outburst.
“We had a lot of hard-hit balls,” he said. “We had a lot of seeing-eye hits, and they made a few mistakes. When you do that, and when you give a team like ours outs in an inning — where they should make plays on the ball, and they make an error or miscommunicate — you just open yourself up for a big inning like that.”
After the first inning finally ended with a groundout by senior left fielder Alissa Haber — who sparked the rally with a leadoff walk and scored twice in the inning — Stanford replaced Gerhart with freshman Jenna Rich, who moved to the pitcher’s mound from shortstop. Rich shut down the Aggies for the rest of the game. She pitched the final four innings, allowing just two hits while striking out two batters. Her win in the game improves her season record to 2-0.
Rich was a star on offense as well. In the second inning, Stanford padded its considerable lead with two more runs, both of which came on a two-run home run off Rich’s bat. In three at-bats during the game, she had two hits, three RBIs and three runs scored.
“I was just hoping to contribute in any way,” Rich said. “They said they wanted me to pitch a little . . . they said they wanted me to throw off and set the other team off-balance. Offensively, my main goal is getting base hits and putting the ball in play.”
“It was a good win, a mid-week win,” Rittman said. “It keeps us sharp going up to Oregon State this weekend.”
The Cardinal will open its first conference series on the road this weekend in Corvallis. The Beavers (20-16, 1-2) are coming off a close series loss to No. 21 Oregon in their season-opening conference series.
“They are a team that swings the bat really well,” Rittman said. “They score a lot of runs . . . we’re going to have to pitch well and play defense, manufacture runs and get timely hits.”
For the Cardinal to improve its conference record, the play of Gerhart and Rich on the mound will be key. If Stanford’s pitching proves capable of shutting down the Beaver offense, the Card has an excellent chance of coming away with a series victory.
Rittman, however, refuses to become too confident.
“We’re going to take this season one game at a time,” he said. “It’s an awfully long season, so if we start looking ahead to future games, it’s going to come back to bite us.”
Stanford will take on Oregon State in a three-game series on April 9-11. The first game, on Friday, will begin at 3 p.m.