In its first Pac-12 series of the season, softball (22-4, 3-0 Pac-12) swept Utah (11-13, 0-6 Pac-12) in all four games, including three Pac-12 games, earning its first three-game sweep of a Pac-12 opponent since 2013.
In game one, eight different players recorded hits, with sophomore second baseman Sydnee Huff’s 3-for-3 day leading the way. Stanford started off relatively slow, recording just one hit in the top of the first. Meanwhile, Utah capitalized with back-to-back hits in the bottom of the first, the second of which was a triple, to score the first run of the game. Stanford showed poise, however, securing back-to-back outs to end the inning and keep the score at just 1-0.
The most excitement of the day came in the fourth inning. The Cardinal secured the lead in the same way it tied the game — three singles to load the bases and a Utah pitcher walking home a run. After this walk by graduate right fielder Teaghan Cowles, junior center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger singled and a fielding error allowed both Huff and junior pinch runner Hannah Matteson to score. Utah managed to end the inning after this, but not before Stanford scored three runs off of four hits and an error. Things went from bad to worse for Utah, as it failed to capitalize off a double and two singles in the bottom of the fourth, leaving three runners of its own on base despite all of these hits coming with one out or less.
Each team went on to score one more run to make the final score of the game a 5-2 Stanford victory. Stanford again completed the game error-free, and it showed in this tight matchup where there were 17 total runners left on base. Had Utah not walked two runners home or given up one unearned run, this could have been a different story. Stanford’s ability to play cleanly and pitch under pressure benefitted the team in this game.
Game two wasn’t quite as close as the first, but Stanford’s ability to limit its errors played into its victory again. A two-run Gindlesperger homer in the top of the first set the tone, as Stanford continued its trend of scoring early. The power inning for the Cardinal came in the fourth, though, as back-to-back errors by Utah allowed Stanford to score two runs. Its third run of the inning came after junior shortstop Emily Schultz tripled and then was brought home on a single by sophomore left fielder Sydney Steele, stretching the lead to 5-0. Stanford scored in every inning after that, most notably notching two runs in the top of the seventh on a double by freshman catcher Aly Kaneshiro.
Utah managed to score a run in both the fifth and seventh, but it was too little too late. Multiple Stanford players recorded hits again, with Gindlesperger and Steele both going 2-for-3. Meanwhile on the pitching side, sophomore Alana Vawter struck out seven while allowing only six hits.
The second game on Saturday didn’t count toward either team’s Pac-12 record, but it was another Stanford blowout, as it took the Cardinal only six innings to secure the victory. Stanford outhit Utah nine to four, while committing no errors compared to Utah’s two. Cowles, Schultz and graduate designated hitter Eleni Spirakis all went 2-for-3, with Spirakis notching her first home run of the season in the sixth to bring in three runs. Meanwhile, Krause didn’t allow a single run the entire game, as the Cardinal went on to win 8-0.
Utah almost managed to steal the final game of the series on Sunday despite Stanford having nearly double the amount of hits as the Utes. The Cardinal scored early again, as Gindlesperger hit a triple in the top of the first to bring home Cowles and was then brought in by a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Emily Young. However, Utah cranked a home run in the bottom of the second to make it a 2-1 game.
Neither team could get anything going for the next two innings as both defenses stood tall, determined not to let the other pull away with the lead. Finally, in the top of the fifth, graduate catcher Montana Dixon doubled, followed shortly by another Gindlesperger triple to bring in another run for the Cardinal. In similar fashion to the top of the first, Young didn’t manage to record a hit herself, but did bring home Gindlesperger to make the game 4-1.
The Cardinal’s early season strategy of playing often as a way of working out its mistakes has clearly been working, as it has cut down on its errors significantly, while multiple players in every game have been recording at least one hit. These trends will need to continue if Stanford wants to have the success it’s had in this series in its next series against No. 9 Arizona (18-5, 3-2 Pac-12). The first game of the series is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. PT at Smith Family Stadium.