There have been some great duos in sports history. Magic and Kareem. Rice and Montana. Wade and LeBron. In Stanford’s softball history, at least, there soon may be another pair to add to its list of outstanding duos: senior infielder Jenna Rich and sophomore outfielder Cassandra Roulund. Rich and Roulund went a combined 6-for-8 with four RBIs on Wednesday night, as the Cardinal (28-12, 5-7 Pac-12) rolled over local non-conference rival San Jose State (29-13, 7-2 WAC).
In a game where the Spartans were sloppy throughout, Rich and Roulund certainly were not, as the two batters that form the heart of Stanford’s lineup quickly made short work of SJSU’s pitching. When both players are in sync, as the Spartans soon found out, the Cardinal is very difficult to beat.
As the first part of this dynamic duo, Rich drew special energy for Wednesday’s game from the fact that she was celebrating her birthday. True to her overall form and her performances on prior birthdays, Rich excelled, hitting two home runs in a 3-for-4 day at the plate. On a night when SJSU had absolutely no method for stopping Rich, it took a sudden gust of wind in left field to prevent her warning-track shot in the bottom of the sixth inning from becoming her third home run of the night.
After singling in the first inning, Rich unleashed the long ball on the Spartans. In the bottom of the third inning, the El Segundo, Calif., native uncorked a towering homer off of sophomore relief pitcher Madison Fish down the left-field line that carried the hedges next to the scoreboard — the solo shot gave the Card a 4-0 lead.
However, Rich certainly was not done.
Fish gave way to fellow sophomore right-hand reliever Jordan Sauceda in the fourth inning, but also failed to find any success against Rich, serving up a first-pitch fast ball that Rich once again drove deep to left. In the process, Rich recorded her sixth multi-homerun game of her career, while increasing her RBI total to a team-leading 33 RBIs.
When asked about hitting at least one home run on her birthday for the third consecutive year, Rich said “For me personally, it was like any other game, and I feel like I came up to bat with a clear mind.”
While Roulund was not able to rely on a birthday for motivation, the sophomore from Trabuco Canyon, Calif., was nevertheless focused and determined at the plate right at the start of Wednesday’s contest. Roulund got the Cardinal on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning by crushing a double into the gap in right-center field.
Roulund nearly notched her seventh triple of the season on the play, but last year’s Pac-12 Freshman Honorable Mention selection was called out on the base path after a nice tag by Spartans freshman third baseman Taylor Purdy. Even though she had been thrown out, Roulund still plated two on the extra-base hit.
Roulund subsequently singled in the third and sixth innings to complete her day. After the game, Rich was effusive in her praise of Roulund, stating, “I know Boo [Roulund] is going to get the job done … hitting triples left and right. The goal of tonight was to go up to bat swinging at our pitches, being disciplined at the plate. And our coach [Stanford head coach John Rittman] was stressing that we need to be relaxed up there, not too overly anxious, and I think Boo demonstrated that.”
Roulund is now second on the team in RBIs with 27, while leading the way for the Cardinal lineup with a .591 slugging percentage.
After a week off, Stanford returns to action next Wednesday with another non-conference home game against St. Mary’s.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.