After a promising start to the season on the road, Stanford softball (4-5) had a disappointing home opener this weekend, dropping three of its four games in the Nike Invitational.
The team opened play against North Dakota State (5-5) on Friday, despite wet conditions that had postponed the baseball season opener to the next day.
NDSU started the game strong, scoring three runs on seven hits through the first four innings. Meanwhile, Stanford’s only run of the evening came in the first inning after a wild pitch allowed junior Kylie Sorenson to run home from third.
The Bison put the game out of reach in the fifth inning, after sophomore pitcher Haley Snyder came in to relieve freshman Carolyn Lee. In just one inning, Snyder gave up five runs on two hits while allowing two walks and a strikeout. Snyder did not get any help from her defense, which committed two errors in the inning, ultimately contributing to the mercy rule being invoked with NDSU leading 9-1.
On Saturday morning, the team rallied for its only win of the weekend, topping Saint Mary’s (3-5) 5-2. Snyder redeemed herself against the Gaels, pitching all seven innings and allowing only three runs on 11 hits and three walks.
Offensively, the team also had a stronger showing against the Gaels. Senior Kayla Bonstrom led the team with two RBI doubles, while sophomore Arden Pettit got on base in all three of her at-bats.
The Cardinal were not able to carry over the momentum from their win, however, dropping a 3-1 contest to Long Beach State (3-3) later in the day. The game was a pitching duel between Lee and LBSU’s Cielo Meza, with both players going the distance and playing the full 7 innings.
While the game was scoreless for the first four innings, the Cardinal blinked first in the fifth, allowing the Beach to get on base off of an error from third baseman Pettit. LBSU followed with a sacrifice bunt and a single to get on the scoreboard.
The Beach went on to score in the sixth and the seventh to extend its lead to 3-0, while Meza was near-perfect, giving up only two hits in the fourth inning during the entire game. Stanford’s single run in the bottom of the ninth brought the final score to 3-1.
“I’m really proud of how the team played; it was a good battle,” said head coach Rachel Hanson. “It was one of those games where our hits didn’t fall and you just come back the next day ready to get after it.”
Stanford played its final game on Sunday, hoping to get back to .500 over the weekend with a second win over the struggling Gaels, which had not won a game over the weekend and had amassed a 23-run deficit in just four games.
However, the Gaels came out on fire in the rematch, racing out to a 4-1 lead by the the end of the fifth inning. The Cardinal refused to go away, though, as sophomore catcher Victoria Molina hit a three-run homer, her first of the season, in the sixth inning to even the score at four.
“Victoria really has a great mentality at the plate right now and is attacking good pitches,” Hanson said. “She stood up and delivered in a big moment.”
With both teams held scoreless in the seventh, the game went to extra innings. The Gaels finally broke through in the top of the ninth, scoring two runs to take a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish. While Stanford scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to cause some suspense, it was ultimately unable to complete the comeback.
Stanford next competes in the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California, this Thursday.
Contact Laura Stickells at lauraczs ‘at’ stanford.edu and Neel Ramachandran at neelr ‘at’ stanford.edu.