Softball: Bruins bash inconsistent pitching staff

April 26, 2010, 12:41 a.m.
Softball: Bruins bash inconsistent pitching staff
Junior Ashley Chinn’s pitching could not stop the No. 6 UCLA offense this weekend, as the No. 10 Cardinal extended their losing streak to seven straight games. The pitching staff has been shaky without freshman Teagan Gerhart. (BRYAN LIN/The Stanford Daily)

After going cold two weeks ago against Arizona, the Stanford softball team continued to struggle against Pac-10 competition. The No. 10 Cardinal (30-12, 4-8 Pac-10) could not keep up with No. 6 UCLA (33-9, 7-5) and was swept at home for the first time this season.

Stanford has now lost seven straight games and has sunk to seventh out of eight teams in the conference, just ahead of Oregon State.

“This conference is tough – it’s very unforgiving,” said head coach John Rittman. “If you have a bad weekend, you just have to be able to bounce back.”

The first game of the series on Friday saw the Cardinal lose a game in five innings for the first time this season. The Bruin offense relentlessly pounded Stanford pitching, taking home a 10-0 win.

Without freshman Teagan Gerhart, who has carried much of the pitching load throughout the season, the Stanford pitching staff was hard-pressed to contain UCLA’s powerful offense. Junior Ashley Chinn got the start, pitching 2.2 innings and giving up four runs before being replaced by freshman Caitlin Breen. In her 2.1 innings, Breen gave up 10 hits and six runs before the game was ended in five innings due to the run rule.

Meanwhile, UCLA’s Donna Kerr dominated the Stanford lineup, pitching all five innings and giving up only one hit, to senior left fielder Alissa Haber. Kerr also registered eight strikeouts while not issuing a walk. On the Stanford side, Chinn gave up three walks before being removed.

Stanford fared slightly better in the next game of the series. The Cardinal managed to keep the game close early, with the score tied at three apiece after three innings. However, the Bruins pulled away in the next two innings, while Stanford was unable to make a dent in UCLA’s defense over the last four. The game ended in a 7-3 UCLA win.

The Cardinal used two pitchers again in the game – Chinn and freshman Jenna Rich. After earning the start, Rich stayed in for three innings, giving up four runs. Chinn gave a similarly lackluster performance, allowing three runs over the final four innings.

Stanford’s offense also found a few holes in UCLA’s pitching, though it was not enough to match the Bruins’ offensive output. UCLA starter Whitney Baker gave up three runs in four innings before being replaced by Megan Langenfeld, who held the Card to no runs over the final three innings.

At the top of the order, Haber and sophomore second baseman Ashley Hansen combined to go 3-8 with two runs scored, but the rest of the Cardinal lineup was an anemic 2-17.

Despite his team’s struggles, Rittman still saw some strong points of play.

“We’re getting runners in scoring position, and we’re putting pressure on them, we’re just not getting the big hit to break open an inning,” he said. “We’re making some decent pitches, but at the same time, we’re walking too many people, and we’re giving up the long ball.”

Although Saturday’s results were somewhat encouraging, the team backslid on Sunday, getting run-ruled for the second time in three games in a 10-1 loss.

Rich and Chinn pitched once again for the Cardinal, and were even more ineffective than on Saturday. They combined to give up 10 runs, all earned, while walking seven batters and striking out seven, of which six came from Chinn.

On the other side, Kerr and Langenfeld continued their dominance of Stanford’s lineup. The Card only managed a single run in the second inning, despite getting seven hits in the game.

Rittman certainly saw the Card’s inability to string hits together as a big obstacle.

“We need to find a way to get timely hits,” Rittman said. “If we can do that, we’ll find a way to win.”

After a Tuesday game at home against San Jose State, the Cardinal will try to improve its Pac-10 fortunes at home against Arizona State in a three-game series starting on April 30.

However, Rittman is not looking too far into the future for a cure to his team’s recent woes.

“We really have to take it one game at a time right now,” he said.

Tuesday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.

Kabir Sawhney is currently a desk editor for the News section. He served as the Managing Editor of Sports last volume.

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