Softball (17-4, 0-0 Pac-12) completed a three-game sweep against Loyola Marymount (10-13, 0-0 WCC) this weekend in its last series before starting Pac-12 play. Two particularly strong performances came from pitchers sophomore Alana Vawter and freshman Regan Krause, who allowed a combined one earned run over the course of the three games.
The first game ended up being a tight, 3-0 victory for the Cardinal. Continuing its trend of scoring early, Stanford started out the bottom of the first with singles from graduate right fielder Teaghan Cowles and junior center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger. Both players advanced one base off of a sacrifice bunt by junior shortstop Emily Young, and then Cowles scored the first run of the game on a passed ball while graduate designated hitter Eleni Spirakis was up to bat. Junior first baseman Emily Schultz then singled to bring home Gindlesperger and give the Cardinal a 2-0 lead. These hits ended up being three of only five total hits for the Cardinal in a largely defensively based game.
Luckily, Loyola Marymount didn’t fare any better, with Vawter allowing only three hits the entire game while striking out eight. After mostly uneventful second, third, fourth and fifth innings, a single from Cowles followed by a double by Young brought Stanford’s lead up to 3-0, where it would remain for the rest of the game.
The second game was a blowout, as Stanford’s bats got going to the tune of 13 hits from eight different sources over the course of the six innings. Sophomore second baseman Sydnee Huff went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs, Gindlesperger went 2 for 3 with a triple and 3 RBIs and sophomore left fielder Kaitlyn Lim went 2 for 3. Stanford was in control the entire game, with Spirakis hitting a single in the bottom of the first to give the Cardinal an early 2-0 lead after Cowles reached first on a fielder’s error and Gindlesperger walked.
Similarly, in the bottom of the second, three consecutive batters walked, and a Young single gave the Cardinal an early 3-0 lead. Stanford built upon its lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring a run via a sacrifice fly from Spirakis. Loyola Marymount started to come back in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs to cut the Cardinal’s lead to 4-2, but Stanford was determined not to let go of its lead. An RBI single from Huff followed by a huge triple from Gindlesperger in the bottom of the fifth brought Stanford’s lead to 7-2.
Loyola Marymount started to come back in the top of the sixth, chipping away at Stanford’s lead to make it a 7-3 ball game. However, Stanford followed that up with its biggest inning of the day in one of the longest two-out rallies of the season. After back-to-back outs to start the bottom of the sixth, a walk by sophomore third baseman Sydney Steele and an RBI double from freshman catcher Aly Kaneshiro brought Stanford’s lead back to five runs. Two consecutive singles from Huff and Lim scored another run for Stanford and brought Cowles up to bat with runners on first and third. However, Huff, who had previously advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a wild pitch, with Lim moving to second, bringing Stanford’s lead to seven runs. Lim then advanced to third on another wild pitch, Cowles walked and then Gindlesperger singled to bring home Lim and end the game on a run-rule with a decisive 11-3 Stanford victory.
The final game was more similar to the first game than the second, as Stanford only recorded five hits and Loyola Marymount recorded two. The runs came in the bottom of the first after Cowles and Gindlesperger singled and then Spirakis brought home Cowles to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead. Schultz then hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Gindlesperger and increase Stanford’s lead to 2-0, where it would stay the rest of the game. Vawter only walked two batters the entire game as Stanford played flawless defense with no errors, a big issue for them in previous games.
With this weekend’s effort, particularly in the second game, Stanford moved to 25th in the NCAA in team batting average at .325 while staying steady at ninth in the nation in earned run average at 1.12. Meanwhile, Vawter, who’s having a breakout season, moved into 10th in the nation in individual ERA with 0.32, and Young remained among the top-50 hitters in the nation in terms of batting average, at .467.
While Stanford hasn’t played any major opponents of note, that will change in the next two weeks as its schedule gets significantly more difficult as Pac-12 play starts. Stanford plays one game at BYU (11-11, 0-0 WCC) on Wednesday before competing in its first Pac-12 series against Utah (9-9, 3-3 Pac-12) this weekend. Utah isn’t considered too challenging compared to other conference teams, but the following weekend, Stanford takes on No. 7 Arizona (14-3, 0-0 Pac-12) which will be by far its toughest matchup of the season thus far.