No. 1 Washington allows just one run
With the regular season coming to a close, the Stanford softball team headed to Seattle, Wash. this weekend, looking to move up in the conference standings. But standing in its way was No. 1 Washington, the team that has led both the conference and national rankings for the entire season.
The Cardinal (33-17, 5-13 Pac-10) played a tough series against the Huskies (43-5, 15-3), but Washington managed to prevail in all three games. With its sweep, the Huskies have clinched the regular season conference title, while the Cardinal remain in seventh place in the conference, just ahead of Oregon State.
While its pitching was quite strong for much of the weekend, holding the Huskies to three runs in the last two games, the Stanford offense fell flat against Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie. The Card managed to score just one run over the entire series, a low point in a conference season marred by offensive struggles.
The first game of the series was undoubtedly the toughest one for Stanford. Washington run-ruled the Card 8-0 in five innings. The game marks the second time all season that Stanford has lost in five innings.
On the Washington side, Lawrie no-hit the Cardinal in five strong innings, giving up just one walk and hitting one batter.
Freshman Jenna Rich and senior Shannon Koplitz combined to pitch four innings for Stanford. Rich started the game and pitched 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits and seven runs to the Huskies. Rich also had control problems, walking four batters while getting just two strikeouts.
Koplitz took over in the fourth inning and got two outs while giving up two hits and one run, while issuing two walks.
Neither player is a regular pitcher – Rich has started at shortstop for much of the year, while Koplitz, an infielder, has seen virtually no action in the circle all season.
Catcher Shawna Wright was the offensive star for Washington. She went 2-3 with five RBIs, including a two-run home run in the third inning.
The second game of the series, on Saturday, was a much closer contest. Washington eventually prevailed 2-1 thanks to another strong performance from Lawrie.
The game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel through the first five innings. Junior pitcher Ashley Chinn held her own against the Huskies, giving up no runs and two hits in the first six innings.
Stanford managed to get its first hits of the series, with five over the course of the game. It mounted a short rally in the sixth inning, stringing together a couple of hits to score its single run.
Though Chinn had held Washington in the sixth inning, she was unable to preserve the shutout in the seventh inning. Wright singled to right field to open the inning, and the next batter, Lawrie, hit a two-run shot to right center that gave Washington the walk-off win.
Sunday’s game was another tough battle between Chinn and Lawrie. Both pitchers had shutouts through seven innings, sending the game into extra innings.
While Stanford’s offense was unable to make any headway in extras, Washington eked out a run in the bottom of the eighth to take its second straight walk-off win, this time by a 1-0 score.
Chinn pitched 7.1 innings and gave up five hits and the one eighth-inning run while striking out five. Her record for the season now stands at 8-8 after being charged for losses on both Saturday and Sunday.
Perhaps contrary to expectations, freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart did not return to the circle against the Huskies. Prior to sustaining an injury against Arizona, Gerhart was the ace of the Stanford staff, and has been sorely missed over the Card’s last three conference series. Gerhart pitched two innings last week against Santa Clara and entered as a pinch runner twice against Washington, but did not pitch against the Huskies.
The Cardinal will hope Gerhart can pitch next weekend at home against Oregon in its last conference series of the regular season. Stanford will need to play well against the Ducks to salvage a finish close to the middle of the conference and its top-25 ranking.