Softball: Ducks take two

May 9, 2011, 1:46 a.m.

Stanford softball dropped two of three in Eugene over the weekend, snapping the Cardinal’s 10-game win streak over Oregon and returning both teams to .500 in conference play.

The series leaves No. 10 Stanford and No. 12 Oregon with identical records on the year, both at 37-13 overall and 9-9 within the Pac-10. Stanford started strong with a dominant 4-1 victory on Friday but would never hold a lead again during the series. The Cardinal bats fell silent Saturday, getting shut out 2-0. The offense sputtered back to life on Sunday but stalled when it counted, stranding a remarkable 15 runners over seven innings while converting only once in a 4-2 loss.

Softball: Ducks take two
Senior Ashley Chinn, above, pitched a solid game but took the loss in the 2-0 faceoff with Oregon on Saturday. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

The series opener featured a brilliant performance by sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart, along with a pair of stolen base records. Gerhart fanned a career-high 15 batters in a complete-game win, giving up just one earned run on three hits. It was her 22nd complete game and 21st win of the season.

Neither team was able to scratch out runs through the first three innings. The Cardinal came close in the second, when junior left-fielder Maya Burns was nailed at the plate after a throwing error by Oregon’s first baseman Monique Fuiava.

Oregon broke the stalemate in the fourth, as Fuiava tripled in Samantha Pappas who had reached first earlier on a walk.

In the fifth, Hassman walked with one out and advanced to second by stealing her 32nd base of the year. In doing so, she set two new Stanford records in the category; she broke Jessica Mendoza’s 2001 single-season steals record to add to her own legacy, but it was also the 83rd stolen base for the Cardinal this year, breaking last season’s record of 82.

Stanford would take the lead in the sixth, capitalizing on two Oregon errors. Freshman pinch runner Caitlyn Pura scored and sophomore pinch hitter Alix Van Zandt reached safely on an error by Pappas in center field. Van Zandt came around to score as junior third baseman Jenna Becerra singled up the middle, giving Stanford a 2-1 lead.

The Card padded its lead in the final frame when freshman right fielder Michelle Prong went yard to right, scoring herself and junior shortstop Ashley Hansen. The home run, Prong’s fourth, gave Stanford its final 4-1 lead. Oregon’s Jessica Moore took the loss, moving to 18-8 on the year.

Moore was back in the circle for Oregon on Saturday but with much more impressive stuff. She allowed just five hits and struck out eight in a complete-game shutout. Stanford senior Ashley Chinn also pitched a good game, allowing just two runs, but took the loss due to lack of run support. The loss dropped Chinn to 16-4 on the year.

Oregon got on the board in the first, when shortstop Kelsey Chambers hit a solo shot to left field.

Oregon tallied again in the third, increasing its lead to 2-0. Second baseman Kaylan Howard led off the inning with a double, and left fielder Kaitlin Vitek plated her with a single through the left side.

Sunday once again saw Moore on the mound for Oregon — it was her third straight game, although this time in relief. Gerhart was back in the circle for Stanford but picked up the loss to fall to 21-9.

Stanford’s offense recovered from its poor showing the day before and would’ve scored more if not for some poor luck. Cardinal hitters had Oregon’s pitchers on the ropes and repeatedly threatened to score, leaving at least two men on base every single inning, totaling 15 in all.

The Ducks took an early 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by right fielder Christie Nieto in the second, but the Cardinal halved that lead in the fifth when Hansen hit an RBI blooper to right field, scoring Becerra. Oregon struck twice more in the bottom of the sixth, again on a home run, this time by catcher Alexa Peterson.

Stanford refused to go down without a fight though, scoring one in the seventh and stranding two more. Hassman singled in Pura with two outs, but Hansen grounded out to end the game. Moore got the win for Oregon in relief, her second in two days. She was Oregon’s pitcher of record for three straight games.

Despite the series loss, Stanford is focused on the future.

“As long as we continue to compete and remain mentally tough, our confidence as a team will continue to grow,” said sophomore Jenna Rich. “We’ll eventually take care of business in Oklahoma City at the Women’s College World Series.”

Up next, Stanford closes out its regular season at top-ranked Arizona State (48-5, 15-3 Pac-10). The Sun Devils are red hot at the moment, holding not only the top ranking in the country and the top spot in the conference standings but having swept their past three conference series.

Stanford opens its series with ASU this Thursday at 7 p.m. in Tempe.


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