Gerhart’s absence paves way for Arizona sweep
Stanford softball has had better weekends.
In its first chance to get revenge against No. 4 Arizona since last year’s Super Regionals, Stanford fell flat in Tucson, getting swept by the host Wildcats over the weekend. Last season, the Wildcats eliminated the Cardinal in the Super Regionals with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line.
The No. 8 Cardinal (30-9, 4-5) may have lost more than a Pac-10 Conference series this weekend. Freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart left her start on Friday after just 2.2 innings and did not pitch again all weekend. It is unclear if Gerhart is injured or if her arm is just tired. She will be re-evaluated this week, though she did pinch run in Sunday’s loss.
Gerhart has been a star for the Cardinal all season. She is 22-6 with a miniscule 1.67 ERA in her first season on the Farm.
With Gerhart out, junior Ashley Chinn, who came into the season expecting to compete for the first spot in the rotation, made her return to the circle. Chinn hadn’t pitched since March 23, as she has been working on problems with her mechanics. This weekend, Chinn pitched in all three games, going a total of 10.2 innings and giving up seven runs. She took losses on both Saturday and Sunday.
Last year, the Cardinal took the first game of the Stanford Super Regional before losing two consecutive games to the Wildcats, effectively ending Stanford’s season.
Arizona (35-7, 5-4) used its usual formula of out-slugging its opponents to beat the Cardinal this weekend.
A day after squeaking out a 3-2 win on Friday behind third baseman Brigette Del Ponte’s two-run homer, the Wildcats embarrassed the Cardinal Saturday, winning 10-2 in six innings.
Three Arizona players went deep in the win. Catcher Stacie Chambers – who led the nation in homers last season – took Chinn deep to lead off the bottom of the third and give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
An inning later, Wildcat shortstop K’Lee Arredondo chased Chinn with a one-out, three-run shot of her own to break the game open.
For the game, Chinn (6-3) went just 3.1 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits and four walks.
Pitcher Kenzie Fowler (23-5) got the win for Arizona, going the distance and allowing just two runs on two hits and three walks.
Maybe the most impressive part about Fowler – who also got the complete game victory Friday – is that she kept Stanford’s three-time All-American senior and left fielder Alissa Haber hitless for consecutive days. It was the first time all season Haber went two games in a row without a hit, and only the fifth and six times she has gone hitless all year.
Arizona’s offensive explosion was not much of a surprise. Year in and year out, the Wildcats are at or near the top of the league in home runs and runs scored, and they are especially difficult to stop in Tucson.
Sunday was no different, as the Wildcats capitalized on three Cardinal errors to best the visitors 5-4.
Arizona clinched the series sweep with a tie-breaking home run from designated player Lini Koria in the fifth inning.
The home run spoiled an otherwise impressive relief appearance by Chinn, who went four innings while allowing just the one run.
Senior third baseman Shannon Koplitz led the way for the Cardinal offense with three hits, including an RBI double in the first inning to give Stanford a 1-0 lead. Freshman shortstop Jenna Rich also hit her team-leading 11th home run in the loss.
Stanford, who has now lost four consecutive games, will look to get back in the win column Wednesday, when it hosts San Jose State before welcoming conference foe UCLA next weekend for a massive conference showdown.
The health of Gerhart and continued progress from Chinn will be vital in determining whether the Cardinal can bounce back from the funk it has found itself in recently.