Stanford traveled to Corvallis, Ore,. seeking a road series win against a quality opponent in order to further bolster its bid for a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Consider that mission accomplished. In a three-game set that played out over the course of two days, No. 14 Stanford won two of three against No. 14 Oregon State (24-11, 1-5 Pac-12) to improve to 26-10 on the season and 4-5 in Pac-12 play.
Prior to this series, pitching and fielding figured to be areas of weakness for the Beavers. Right on cue, the Cardinal masterfully exploited these deficiencies, tallying 15 runs and forcing four errors in a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday afternoon. Although the Card fell 4-3 in Wednesday afternoon’s finale, Stanford still averaged six runs per game and hit .295 against the Beavers.
Senior Jenna Rich had a series to remember, as the El Segundo, Calif., product hit .545 and drove in five runs during the three-game set. Rich’s defining moment this week came in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The third-team All-American and Pac-12 first-team selection went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBI in an 8-6 slugfest victory over the Beavers.
With the bases loaded and her team trailing 3-1 in the top of the fourth inning, Rich rocketed a bases-clearing double into the gap in left-center field to give the Card a 4-3 lead. Rich added a single in the sixth inning and subsequently gave Stanford some needed breathing room in the seventh with an RBI single down the left field line, scoring Leah White and producing the final score line.
The two-time NFCA All West Region First Team selection now has 30 RBI on the season, eight clear of Stanford’s next highest total. Rich also leads the team with four home runs—she is poised to leave the Farm as one of the greatest power hitters in Stanford softball history, having led the Cardinal in those two categories in all four years of her career.
Sophomore Leah White also had a fantastic series for the Card, as the Phoenix native hit .600 and plated two runs in three games. White’s best performance came in the first game on Tuesday, when the Pac-12 second-team selection went 3-for-4 with an RBI. White’s single up the middle in the top of the fourth inning gave the Cardinal a 5-0 lead; Stanford would add two more runs in the seventh to finish off the 7-0 rout of the Beavers.
White has been absolutely on fire over the last month of the season, batting .440 since March 1 while driving in seven runs and drawing nine walks. White’s sheer ability to get on base and her fabulous speed have provided the heart of the Cardinal lineup with great opportunities to drive in runs, thus spurring the team’s offense.
Stanford will next face one of its toughest tests all season on Saturday and Sunday, as No. 2 Arizona State (34-3, 5-1 Pac-12) travels to the Farm for a three-game series. The Cardinal will have an invaluable opportunity at home against a national championship contender to reaffirm its position among the elite programs in the country. The Sun Devils have no glaring offensive weakness, as Arizona State leads the Pac-12 in batting average, runs and home runs.
The Sun Devils’ offensive output is paced by senior Sam Parlich. A senior who ranks in the top 20 in home runs and RBI’s in ASU softball team history, Parlich is hitting .381 with eight homers and 30 RBI. Arizona State also has solid pitching, ranking third in the Pac-12 in team ERA with a 1.61 mark. All in all, Stanford will have its hands full with the formidable Sun Devils.
Stanford and Arizona State will face off in a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at noon. Saturday’s games can also be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact David Cohn at [email protected].