Softball: Sweeping to Supers

May 23, 2011, 1:48 a.m.

Stanford softball breezed through NCAA Regionals this weekend, making the most of its home field advantage as it beat Pacific, Fresno State and Nebraska. The Cardinal was dominant, never surrendering a lead while outscoring its opposition 10-2. With the regional victory, Stanford moves on to face No. 2 Alabama in the Super Regional next weekend.

No. 11 Stanford’s stars stepped up when it counted, particularly sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart. Showing why she was named to the Pac-10 and All-West Region First Teams last week, Gerhart pitched three complete-game wins for the Card, allowing just two runs and 11 hits over 21 innings of work. The three decisions move her to 25-11 on the year. The team itself moved to 41-15 (10-11 Pac-10), securing its twelfth 40-win season in school history.

Softball: Sweeping to Supers
Sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart, above, allowed only two runs and 11 hits over the whole weekend, helping the team clinch its victories over Pacific, Fresno State and Nebraska. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

Fellow All-West First-Team members Jenna Rich and Ashley Hansen also played well for the Card, accounting for six of the team’s nine RBI. Hansen, a junior who leads the nation in batting average and was recently named Pac-10 Player of the Year, went 4-10 with 3 runs scored. Rich finished with 4 RBI, at least one in every game.

Stanford opened the tournament with a 3-0 shutout of Big West Conference champion Pacific (37-19), beating the Tigers for the second time this year. Gerhart stymied the Pacific offense, allowing just three hits and giving up no walks while striking out four.

All three of the Cardinal’s runs came in the bottom of the third during a two-out rally, as Stanford capitalized on a pair of Pacific errors. Teagan Gerhart started the rally when she reached on an error by Pacific first baseman Nicole Matson. Junior centerfielder Sarah Hassman singled weakly to third and reached second on a throwing error, and Gerhart scored on the play. Hansen kept the inning alive with a single up the middle setting up Rich, who promptly doubled to centerfield, plating Hassman and Hansen. Pacific’s Nikki Armagost (19-10) was saddled with the loss despite allowing no earned runs and just four hits and a walk.

Saturday’s game was a slightly closer affair against Fresno State (35-19), which earned an at-large berth to the postseason. Gerhart once again pitched a three-hit complete game for the win, although this game she gave up a solo home run to Fresno’s Nicole Angene.

The Cardinal struck first in the top of the third. Teagan Gerhart led off the inning with a walk and then stole second. After Hassman popped out, consecutive singles by Rich, Hansen and freshman left fielder Caitlyn Pura scored Gerhart and Rich, giving Stanford a 2-0 lead.

Stanford added another run in the sixth when senior first baseman Melisa Koutz singled in Pura. Stanford went on to load the bases with no outs but failed to do any additional damage. Fresno State’s Michelle Moses failed to turn the game around, taking the loss to move to 16-12.

Stanford needed to take just one of two from No. 16 Nebraska (41-15) Sunday, but made the second game unnecessary with a 4-1 win. Gerhart was solid in the circle, giving up one run on five hits and a walk. Stanford wrung nine hits and three walks from the Cornhuskers’ Ashley Hagemann, moving her to 31-13 on the year.

Stanford threatened in the third, loading the bases with one out, but Hagemann retired the formidable duo of Hansen and Rich to escape the jam. Hansen wouldn’t be kept down long, as she singled home Teagan Gerhart in the top of the fifth to break the tie. Nebraska responded in the sixth when second baseman Julie Brechtel hit a solo shot that tied the game at 1-1.

Hansen once again stepped up in the final frame, driving in junior third baseman Jenna Becerra for the go-ahead run. Rich picked up an RBI as her groundout to second scored Teagan Gerhart, and Pura capped the three-run inning by singling in Hansen.

Nebraska came close to scoring in the bottom of the inning, but McCann was nailed at home on a relay from Pura and Hansen to junior catcher Kelsey Gerhart.

Stanford now travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the No. 2-seeded Crimson (48-6) in the Super Regional on Thursday at 5 p.m. PST.

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