Stanford softball tries to rebound
The No. 9 Stanford softball team looks to get back on the right track this weekend when it returns home to play host to No. 6 UCLA (30-9, 4-5 Pac-10) in an important Pacific-10 Conference showdown.
The Cardinal (30-9, 4-5) has lost four in a row coming into this weekend, including a three-game sweep at the hands of Arizona last weekend.
This will be Stanford’s first game since the sweep, as a scheduled midweek game against San Jose State was rained out on Wednesday.
Stanford’s biggest concern coming into the weekend is the health of freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart. Gerhart left her start last Friday at Arizona with an apparent arm injury. The injury was not believed to be serious, but she did not pitch the rest of the weekend; her availability for the matchups with UCLA is uncertain.
With Gerhart out, junior Ashley Chinn returned to the circle with mixed results. For the year, Chinn is 6-3 with a 3.05-earned run average. If Gerhart can’t go, Chinn, along with freshman Jenna Rich — who is also the team’s starting shortstop — are expected to throw the majority of the innings for Stanford.
Offensively, Stanford has possessed a powerful lineup all season, led by Rich and senior left fielder Alissa Haber.
Rich leads the club in home runs and RBIs with 11 and 38, respectively. She is also hitting a very solid .331 out of the three spot in the Cardinal lineup.
Haber, who is a three-time All-American, leads the team in almost every other offensive category. She is hitting .450 with 40 runs scored while slugging .708.
Haber and Gerhart were recently named to the 25-player USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award watch list. Haber is also a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award — given annually to an athlete for her performance on and off of the playing field.
The Cardinal and the Bruins enter the weekend with identical records in conference and nonconference play, making the series especially important. Both teams are part of a four-way tie for fourth place in the highly competitive Pac-10.
UCLA enters the weekend going in the opposite direction as Stanford. The Bruins swept Oregon State last weekend and come in riding high.
Senior Megan Langenfeld paces the offense with an incredible .507 batting average and nine home runs. The Bruins use five different pitchers, but the most innings go to junior Donna Kerr. Kerr is 15-5 with a 1.97 ERA on the year.
Despite UCLA’s high ranking and good record, the Cardinal players see this weekend as an opportunity to make up ground in the Pac-10.
It is a make-or-break weekend for both teams as the series loser is likely out of contention for the Pac-10 title.
Action begins at Smith Family Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.