Stanford softball (16-25, 1-11 Pac-12) extended its losing streak to six as it failed to gain any traction against No. 9/8 UCLA. The Cardinal were outscored by the Bruins 40-9 and have now come up short in every game played since March.
With much of its pitching talent out due to injury, Stanford was forced to play all three of the games with position players in the circle. Sophomore Kiley Sorenson, normally a regular at shortstop, started each game of the series before handing things off to a number of other typical fielders. Junior Kayla Bonstrom, senior Erin Ashby and freshman Kaitlyn Lagattuta all made their season debuts at pitcher as Stanford head coach Rachel Hanson attempted to deal with the absences.
UCLA proved a tough opponent to debut against. The Bruins batters keyed in on Stanford’s inexperience all weekend, with 45 of 91 at bats succeeding in getting a runner on base. UCLA didn’t have much difficulty bringing these runners home either, winning by scoring margins of 12-4, 18-3 and 10-2.
In the first matchup, UCLA got up early in the first two innings after some solid team hitting and two Stephany LaRosa homers. The Cardinal appeared to start getting back into it with Sorenson driving in three on a home run and single and Bonstrom holding UCLA scoreless in the third. The Bruins extended their lead in the fourth, however, and continued building it until the game was called after the sixth inning, with pitcher Ally Carda easily diffusing any offensive momentum the Cardinal built.
In the second game, the Cardinal came out with more intensity. UCLA scored twice to put Stanford in an early hole in the first, but the Cardinal answered with two in the bottom of the inning on an RBI walk by Ashby and a fielder’s choice by junior Kaitlin Schaberg. However, pitching again proved to be a problem for the Cardinal as the Bruins managed eight runs in both the third and fourth innings, giving UCLA a virtually insurmountable lead. Sophomore Bessie Noll scored a consolation homer in the fourth, but it was too late to ignite a Stanford offensive comeback.
The final game of the series presented more of the same for the Cardinal, with a balanced UCLA scoring attack putting the Bruins up 7-0 in the third. Noll homered again in the fourth to drive in two for the Cardinal, but the rest of the offense faltered as Stanford recorded just four hits on the day. Senior Hanna Winter earned a small highlight for the team by grabbing her 57th career steal, the third most in school history, but solid moments by her and others were overshadowed by the difficult circumstances which the team found itself in.
“Our position players who were pitching did a great job of managing the game the best they could,” Hanson said after the final game. “Each of them did a good job…of limiting UCLA to no huge innings offensively.”
Stanford now looks forward to hosting St. Mary’s at home on Wednesday before Oregon visits the farm for a three-game series this weekend.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.