After dropping a dramatic weekend series across the Bay last week, the No. 13 Stanford softball team will try to bounce back at home this weekend against visiting Washington. Sunday’s game has been designated as Senior Day since this marks the last Pac-10 home game of the season for the Cardinal—Stanford will honor its two graduating seniors, pitcher Ashley Chinn and first baseman Melisa Koutz.
It will likely be tough sledding against the Huskies (31-8, 6-6 Pac-10), who are perennial Women’s College World Series contenders, having won the NCAA title in 2009 and losing to eventual champion Arizona in last year’s quarterfinals.
The games have serious postseason implications as well. Stanford and Washington are currently tied in fifth place in the Pac-10 standings—Arizona State is two games ahead of Cal, Arizona and UCLA at the top—and although both teams are virtually guaranteed a spot in May’s NCAA Tournament, Stanford is still hoping to move up and play host to a Regional site.
Junior Ashley Hansen is still red hot at the plate, batting a sizzling .500 on the season, and was instrumental in the Cardinal’s series win over UCLA April 8-10—the team’s starting shortstop and two-time All-American went 8-13 with two steals and three RBI on her way to being named Pac-10 player of the week.
The rest of the lineup hasn’t been bad either, as second baseman Jenna Rich is putting together a fine sophomore campaign with a team-high eight home runs and 38 RBI while hitting .347. Junior Sarah Hassman is hitting .402, tenth in the Pac-10, and has been tearing it up on the base paths, too—her 29 steals leads the Pac-10 by eight.
Against the hard-hitting Huskies, Stanford will lean heavily on its two main pitchers, Chinn and sophomore Teagan Gerhart. Chinn has quietly put together an All-American-type of season in her fourth year on the Farm. The senior from Belmont, Calif. is seventh in the Pac-10 in both wins (15) and ERA (1.89).
Gerhart has also been brilliant in the circle for the Cardinal thus far, going 17-8 with a 1.75 ERA in 33 appearances on the year. She is in the top five in eight categories in the Pac-10, including fifth in ERA and third in strikeouts.
She has also shown no lingering effects from arm surgery last season that shut her down early. A native of Norco, Calif., Teagan still managed to go 22-6 with 173 strikeouts and 18 complete games and threw back-to-back no hitters on her way to All-Pac-10 Conference Honorable Mention honors. She has shone in several big games this season, shutting down UCLA in the rubber match of the teams’ showdown three weeks ago, just two days after going 13 innings in a loss to the Bruins.
This season has also seen her take to the base paths with reckless abandon, stealing 21 bases in 21 attempts, a stat that is almost unheard of for a full-time pitcher.
The Cardinal will need to be firing on all cylinders against Washington, which holds a 35-21 all-time advantage against Stanford. The Huskies also swept last season’s series in Seattle.
First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, with a 1 p.m. start on Saturday and a 12 p.m. start for Sunday’s Senior Day.