Softball (11-3, 0-0 Pac-12) takes on Saint Mary’s California (6-9, 0-0 WCC) on Thursday in a doubleheader where Stanford should be favored to win both games. This past weekend, the Cardinal went 4-1 in the DeMarini invitational, winning four straight before falling to UCSB in the final game of the weekend. Key performances came from freshman pitcher Reagan Krause, graduate third baseman Kristina Inouye and junior shortstop Emily Young.
Stanford is off to a strong start this year, currently ranked second in the country in ERA (.89) and 37th in the country in batting average, reflective of its games so far which have been dominated by strong pitching from Krause and sophomore pitcher Alana Vawter — who is ranked 15th in the country in individual ERA — as well as above average hitting from the team as a whole. The downfall to the Cardinal’s playing has been fielding errors. Despite allowing only 12 earned runs all season, teams have scored a total of 25 runs against the Cardinal, meaning over half of the runs allowed have been unearned. Comparatively, No. 22 Tennessee, which is 3rd in the country with a .91 ERA, has allowed a total of 15 runs, but only five have been unearned.
The Cardinal may be undefeated and unquestionably would be ranked if not for some of these errors, but as long as they continue to plague the team, there will be a glass ceiling on their success. The good news for Stanford is that as they continue to play in preseason games like this, the team’ll keep gaining the experience needed for Pac-12 conference play. Three of the top five teams in the nation and five of the top fifteen all hail from the Pac-12 — if Stanford wants to keep posting the type of win-loss ratio they currently have, they will need experience in games like this doubleheader to build team chemistry and cut down on errors.
Offensively, Young has been one of the best hitters for the Cardinal this year, leading the team in batting average, walks and on-base percentage. Even with her standout season thus far, though, several players are leading the team in one category or another, showing the depth of the team’s hitting. Junior center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger leads the team in hits and slugging percentage, sophomore outfielder Sydney Steele leads the team in doubles, junior first baseman Emily Schultz leads in RBIs and graduate right fielder Teaghan Cowles leads the team in runs and is tied with Young for the lead in stolen bases.
For Saint Mary’s, senior catcher Hannah Chew and freshman catcher Angelina Franco are the players to watch on offense, as those two players have the best batting average, slugging percentage, RBI and on-base percentage on the team. The Gaels don’t look to be too much of a powerhouse offensively overall, as only those two players have batting averages about .300 — for comparison, seven of Stanford’s eight qualifying batters have averages above .300. Similarly, the Gaels don’t have any exceptional pitchers, with Kayla Scott leading the team with a 3.95 ERA, a figure significantly worse than any of the Cardinal’s pitchers.
If Stanford doesn’t commit too many errors, these two games should go in the win column. The first game is set for 3:30 p.m. PT and the second is at 6:00 p.m. PT, both at Stanford.