Stanford softball (12-4, 0-0 Pac-12) was seemingly on its way to securing another two wins in its doubleheader against Saint Mary’s (7-10, 0-0 WCC), but a disastrous seventh inning for the Cardinal in game two resulted in it finishing the night 1-1.
In the first game, Stanford cruised to victory. Three players were perfect at the plate: Graduate right fielder Teaghan Cowles going 2-for-2, junior shortstop Emily Young going 3-for-3 and freshman catcher Aly Kaneshiro all went 2-for-2, and as a team, Stanford hit 10-for-23. The biggest performance of the game came from Young, who hit a double in the first and a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to put a victory beyond the reach of the Gaels.
Besides Young’s homer in the third, the majority of the scoring came in the bottom of the first. After sophomore pitcher Alana Vawter struck out two in the top of the first, the rest of the Cardinal allowed zero runs.
Stanford batted around in the bottom of the first. Cowles walked before stealing second base and later advancing to third on a wild pitch while junior center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger was up to bat; when Gindlesperger singled, Cowles was able to score. Young then doubled and graduate designated hitter Eleni Spirakis was walked to load the bases for junior first baseman Emily Schultz. Schultz came in clutch with a three-RBI double to clear the bases and make the score 3-0, where it would stay for the rest of the inning.
The Cardinal tacked on two more in the second, one of which came from Cowles advancing home on a wild pitch. With Young’s homer in the third and the Cardinal not allowing a run all game, Stanford emerged with a 9-0 run-rule victory after five innings. Vawter allowed only three hits in her three innings pitched, with sophomore pitcher Tatum Boyd allowing no hits in the two innings she pitched.
In the second game, Saint Mary’s again got off to a rough start. After going three and out in the top of the first, with freshman pitcher Reagan Krause striking out two, the Gaels again allowed Stanford to make it through its entire batting lineup in the bottom of the first. In a truly unusual sight at the collegiate level, the first two runs the Cardinal scored first came on walks. Only Gindlesperger recorded a hit in the inning, but as a result of four walks 𑁋 two of which came with the bases loaded 𑁋 and an error by the Gaels, Stanford scored four runs.
In the top of the third, the Gaels started to chip away at Stanford’s lead. After two singles and one hit by pitch, Saint Mary’s got on the scoreboard for the first time all day with one run. With no outs and two runners on base, any more success by the Gaels could have proved disastrous for the Cardinal, but Stanford managed to escape with only one more run allowed, making it a 5-2 game.
Saint Mary’s must have thought it was starting to gain some momentum when that half inning was followed up by two outs for the Cardinal, but its own pitching and fielding doomed it. With two outs, graduate catcher Montana Dixon walked, sophomore left fielder Kaitlyn Lim was hit by a pitch and Cowles singled into right field to bring up Gindlesperger. She was then hit by a pitch herself, allowing Dixon to score, and a single by Young brought in another run to make it a 7-2 Cardinal lead.
Just when it seemed Stanford would cruise into its second comfortable victory, Saint Mary’s decided to make things interesting. Back-to-back hits for the Gaels followed by a hit by a pitch with no outs led Stanford to substitute Boyd in for junior pitcher Molly Millar, who had struck out two batters in two innings of relief pitching. Boyd then hit the St Mary’s batter to allow one run to score. A Saint Mary’s triple deep into left field brought in three more runs, cutting the Cardinal lead to just one.
Every Saint Mary’s batter that came up suddenly seemed to be able to do just about anything they wanted to. The runner on third scored after a fielder’s choice bunt to make it a 7-7 game. Saint Mary’s had all the momentum in the world, and took an 8-7 lead with back to back singles.
A fielder’s choice and a wild throw home allowed two more runs to score. A single into center field and a bobbled ball there allowed another two runs. Then came a dropped ball in left field. Finally, as quickly as this mess started, it was over, as Stanford secured the second and third outs on back to back hitters. The half inning ended with a jaw-dropping seven hits, three errors and ten runs for the Gaels, as Saint Mary’s exited the top of the seventh with a 12-7 lead.
With a single half-inning meltdown as mentally and emotionally draining as that one, it can be hard for a team to come back even if it is more talented across-the-board than its opponent. Sophomore second baseman Sydnee Huff doubled into right field to start the bottom off the seventh and Lim doubled into nearly the same spot to earn the Cardinal one run back, but it wasn’t enough as Stanford ended up falling 12-8 in its biggest upset loss of the season.
Stanford will look to bounce back with a double header at Cal Poly (4-2, 0-0 Big West) on Sunday at 1 p.m. PT and 3:30 p.m. PT.