In its season-opening tournament, Stanford softball (4-2) jumped out to a promising start, winning its first four games before dropping its final two games of the weekend, including a 8-24 run-rule loss to No. 24 Fresno State. Several members of the Cardinal’s freshman class made big moves in their collegiate debuts, including catcher Teaghan Cowles, who led the team, hitting .619 with seven RBIs in the Kajikawa Classic Tournament.
Stanford opened its 2017 campaign with a statement win over University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) on Thursday afternoon. A grand slam by junior utility player Whitney Burks broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning, and the Cardinal tacked on five more runs on their way to a 10-1 win. Sophomore ace Carolyn Lee pitched a complete game, holding the Miners hitless after the third inning and allowing just four hits in total.
“It was exactly what we’d expect of our ace,” said head coach Rachel Hanson. “She battled all day. We had a good game plan going in, and she executed it well to keep them off balance and stay ahead in the count.”
Recording their first collegiate hits, Cowles and infielder Kristina Inouye each drove in a run as well.
Stanford extended its success on Friday, defeating Creighton 7-2. Lee put up another strong showing in the circle, tossing 5.0 innings and allowing one run on two hits and two walks. Senior Bessie Noll led the team with two RBI doubles.
Burks provided the late-inning heroics once again in the evening’s matchup against Western Michigan, leading to Cardinal to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Offensively, Stanford had little trouble reaching base, but the squad could not capitalize and stranded five runners in the first six innings. The Cardinal trailed 2-0 heading into the seventh and final inning, but a sacrifice fly from Noll plated a runner to bring them within striking distance. With baserunners on second and third, Burks came to the plate and stroked a walkoff single into the gap to send Cowles and senior Kylie Sorenson home and secure a 3-2 win for Stanford.
Freshman pitcher Nikki Bauer made her collegiate debut in the circle, allowing just two runs on six hits in her complete-game performance.
“Nikki had a heck of a day,” said Hanson. “We knew she would be a player we could rely on in clutch moments. The kid has ice in her veins. Never any doubt or any worry. She attacked the game the same way, regardless of the situation.”
The bats were on fire when the Cardinal took on Purdue Saturday morning. Nine Stanford players recorded a hit, en route to a 16-9 victory. Cowles added to her impressive debut weekend, going 4-for-5 (.800) with four RBIs, and senior right fielder Lauren Bertoy was perfect, going 5-for-5 with an RBI. Burks and junior infielder Lauren Wegner each hit two-run homers in Stanford’s eight-run sixth inning.
Despite the strong showing over the previous three days, the Cardinal slumped on Sunday, limping to a 0-2 loss to San Diego in the morning, followed by a spectacular 8-24 blowout by Fresno State in the afternoon.
Lee got the start against the Toreros, holding them to just two runs on nine hits in her second complete game of the season. The sophomore currently owns a 1.11 ERA with 10 strikeouts in three starts. Although the Cardinal were able to load the bases in the third inning, they could not make it count, stranding all three runners. Stanford’s bats remained silent until a single from Cowles in the sixth inning, but a double play erased the Cardinal’s hopes of scoring. Although Bertoy was able to make it to second base in the bottom of the seventh, Stanford failed to get a hit, and was shut out by San Diego.
In their final game of the tournament, the Cardinal were able to rack up 10 hits, but they were no match for the near-unstoppable Fresno State offense, which combined for 24 runs on 20 hits, including five home runs. Three freshman pitchers saw time in the circle for Stanford — Bauer, Kayler Detmer and Kiana Pancino — but they were unable to quell the scoring barrage. The Cardinal were unable to answer the Bulldogs’ six-run fifth inning, and the game was called via run-rule after five innings in favor of Fresno State.
Stanford will seek to bounce back as it faces off against UC Davis on the road on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.