Stanford softball traveled south to UCLA over the weekend, dropping Friday’s game in extra innings before rallying to decisive victories on Saturday and Sunday. The wins were the Cardinal’s first over UCLA since 2007.
The No. 13 Cardinal improved to 26-8 overall and 2-4 in the Pac-10, bouncing back nicely after getting swept last weekend by Arizona. Stanford outscored the No. 6 Bruins 17-8 on the weekend, despite losing 6-5 in 13 innings to open the series. The Cardinal pitching staff shut down UCLA (28-7, 4-2) from there on out, allowing just three runs in back-to-back victories to take the series.
Stanford relied heavily on the pitching of sophomore Teagan Gerhart, who pitched in all three games. Gerhart pitched a career-high 13 innings during her Friday start and replaced senior starter Ashley Chinn to record the final four outs in Saturday’s win. Her best performance, though, was in Sunday’s finale, when she allowed just five hits and one run while pitching her 16th complete game of the year. Gerhart finished the weekend with 20 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched.
Friday’s game was a tough loss for the Card, with UCLA taking its first lead of the game in its final at-bat, while Stanford stranded 16 base runners over 13 innings. Freshman Corey Hanewich finally broke the stalemate with a three-RBI triple in the top of the fourth, but UCLA responded in the bottom of the frame with a two-run home run from Andrea Harrison.
In the sixth, Stanford once again loaded the bases, scoring on junior Ashley Hansen’s sac fly to give Stanford a 4-2 lead. The Bruins rallied in the final frame with a two-run shot from Alyssa Tiumalu to force extra innings. Gerhart managed to pitch her way out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth, retiring two straight batters with the bases loaded.
In the 13th inning, Stanford broke the tie when Hanewich doubled in Gerhart for her fourth RBI of the game, but the Bruins again responded with a run of their own. Gerhart was replaced on the mound by Chinn to start the 14th. UCLA’s Harrison led off the inning with her second home run to end the game with the final score 6-5 UCLA. The Bruins’ reliever Aleah Macon got the win, moving to 3-0 on the year.
Saturday saw UCLA instead take the early lead, scoring a run in the first. Stanford responded in the top of the fourth, blowing the game open with a four-run, two-out rally. Hanewich started the scoring with a solo shot, her fifth home run of the season. Hansen kept the inning alive with a single up the middle, and sophomore Jenna Rich followed by drawing a walk. Freshman Danielle Miller emphatically capped the rally with a three-run blast to center, her fourth on the year.
The Bruins managed another run in the bottom of the inning, but Stanford kept up the pressure in the fifth, with Hansen doubling and scoring on Miller’s single, her fourth RBI of the game. Stanford added another insurance marker in the sixth, when Hansen doubled in Gerhart. Hansen finished the game 4-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI. She is batting an astounding .541 on the season, with a .604 on-base percentage and a .908 slugging percentage through 34 games.
Chinn earned the win in a solid 5.2 innings of work, giving up nine hits and two runs while striking out four to run her record to 12-2. Jessica Hall took the loss for UCLA, moving to 14-5.
On Sunday, the Cardinal jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Miller knocked a hit up the middle to produce a run off Hansen’s leadoff single. The lead was extended to 2-0 in the top of the fourth, when Rich slugged her club-leading eighth home run on her 20th birthday. Stanford tallied again in the fifth and sixth, scoring on RBI singles by freshman Michelle Prong and Gerhart and on a sacrifice fly from Miller. UCLA narrowly managed to avoid the shutout, scoring its first run against Gerhart with one out left in the game. Gerhart retired the final batter to secure the 5-1 win, moving her record to 14-6 on the year and giving Stanford the series win. UCLA’s Donna Kerr took the loss to fall to 10-2, being pulled from the game after less than two innings.
The Cardinal returns home tonight for a single game versus San Jose State at 6 p.m. and will resume conference play this weekend at home against Oregon State (17-13, 1-5 Pac-10).