For its first test of 2020, Stanford softball takes to the road to face Grand Canyon, New Mexico and Weber State in the four-day GCU Kickoff Tournament. The Cardinal open their weekend in Phoenix with a Thursday battle against the host team and conclude on Sunday following a game versus the Wildcats.
Stanford’s 2019 campaign was its most successful in over five years. Punctuating Stanford’s 33-20 record — its first winning season since 2014 — was an NCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 2013.
The team opened Pac-12 play in 2019 with three straight wins for the first time in program history; the third of the Cardinal’s three opening victories came from an 8-6 defeat of Oregon, which broke Stanford’s 19-game losing streak against the Ducks.
At the close of the season, five Stanford players earned All-Conference or All-Freshman team honors, with then-senior Caroline Lee, then-juniors Teaghan Cowles and Kristina Inouye and then-freshman Emily Young being placed on the former, and Young and Emily Schultz representing Stanford on the latter.
Lee and Cowles also boasted selection to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Region teams. Of the five Cardinal softball members to earn such honors last year, Lee is the only Cardinal player not present in the squad’s 2020 lineup as the team gears up for the GCU Kickoff Tournament and the upcoming year.
As a junior, Cowles was a driving force for an improving Cardinal. Her 20 multi-hit games were a team-high, as was her .374 batting average. Cowles also accounted for 35 runs scored, six home runs and 20 RBI. Entering her senior season, the utility standout boasts the eighth-best batting average (.338) in Stanford history.
Also returning for another year of Stanford softball is head coach Jessica Allister, for whom 2020 will be her third year in the role. In response to the strides made by the Cardinal in 2019 as well as the prior season, Allister was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Under the direction of Allister, Stanford heads into the season with a sixth-place ranking in the 2020 Pac-12 Softball Preseason Poll.
Stanford’s last meeting with its season-opening opponent, GCU, was in 2018. The Card came out victorious in a 5-0 shutout win, but were admittedly crushed by the Lopes 11-1 a year prior. Thursday’s game between the teams is set for 5 p.m. PT.
Contact Savanna Stewart at savnstew ‘at’ stanford.edu.