In their biggest matchup of the season thus far, softball (22-4, 3-0 Pac-12) takes on No. 9 Arizona (18-5, 3-2 Pac-12) at home in their first series against a ranked opponent. Stanford’s been playing very well the last couple of games, but this will be its first real test.
In the Cardinal’s first Pac-12 series, Stanford swept Utah (11-13, 0-6 Pac-12) in all four games thanks to strong play all around but in particular from freshman pitcher Reagan Krause and junior center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger, both of whom were nominated for Pac-12 weekly awards. Gindlesperger leads the team in slugging percentage, home runs, triples and hits, while Krause and sophomore Alana Vawter make up one of the most formidable pitching duos in the nation.
The key for the Cardinal in those games was their ability to play error-free softball, which should again be important in these games versus a powerhouse like Arizona. Early in the season, some of Stanford’s toughest losses haven’t been because of a talent disadvantage but rather because of the Cardinal’s inability to consistently field the ball cleanly. In more recent games, this hasn’t been an issue and it’s shown in the win column.
Stanford was swept in its last series against Arizona back in 2019, losing two of the games in just five innings and losing the entire three-game series by a combined score of 29-3. It was a brutal takedown of a relatively young Cardinal team as players like Gindlesperger and juniors Emily Young and Emily Schultz were just freshmen, while Vawter and Krause weren’t even on the team yet. This year should be a different story. Stanford ranks in the top 30 in the nation in team batting average (27th) and fourth in earned run average, impressive stats that speak to both the fact that this is a balanced team with both offensive and defensive strengths.
There is a reason Arizona is ranked as highly as they are, though. Freshman outfielder Janelle Meono is 32nd in the nation in batting average while senior catcher Dejah Mulipola is tied for seventh in the nation in both home runs and RBI, 15th in on base percentage and 6th in slugging percentage. The matchup between Mulipola and Vawter in particular will be interesting to watch, as one of the top hitters in the country faces off against one of the top pitchers.
The first game is Thursday at 6 p.m. PT at Stanford.