Softball (29-18, 8-10 Pac-12) was swept by No. 2 UCLA (38-3, 16-2 Pac-12) in four games over the weekend, though the team put up a good fight in two of them. The series marks the toughest yet for Stanford, who had been riding a 6-2 record in their previous eight games, including two victories against No. 12 Oregon (33-15, 11-10 Pac-12).
The offensive firepower from UCLA combined with the Bruins’ superb pitching ended up being too much for the Cardinal. In game one on Friday, UCLA registered 12 hits against sophomore pitcher Alana Vawter, who, before the series, had an ERA of 1.00. Meanwhile, Stanford could manage only three hits on offense, while also committing two errors in the field. Four singles in the bottom of the second translated to two runs for the Bruins, but after that inning, Stanford remained strong on defense. In both the bottom of the third and fourth, the Cardinal stranded three Bruins to keep the game close. Even so, a run scored in the bottom of the fourth followed by a homer in the sixth gave UCLA two more runs to make it a 4-0 ball game.
Saturday’s first game was simultaneously better and worse for the Cardinal. While UCLA only had nine hits (compared to Friday’s 12) and Stanford committed just one error, two of the UCLA hits were two-run homers in the bottom of the fifth — all that was needed for the Bruins to mercy-rule the Cardinal. Three runs by UCLA in the third and a run in each of the first and second innings combined with this nightmare fifth gave the Bruins the 9-0 victory.
The second game Saturday was the closest to success the Cardinal came all weekend. Stanford scored its first run of the series in the top of the second when graduate catcher Montana Dixon was hit by a pitch with bases loaded, bringing home junior shortstop Emily Young. Unfortunately, UCLA boasts two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year pitcher Rachel Garcia, who is a true two-way player. Garcia went two-for-three at the plate, with her first hit being a single in the bottom of the third to tie the game and then her second hit being a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to give UCLA the 3-1 lead. Stanford was unable to score the rest of the game, and UCLA went on to win its third-straight.
Sunday’s game went similarly to the first game on Saturday. Stanford immediately found itself in a hole in the bottom of the first when UCLA registered five hits and four runs before the Cardinal could record three outs. Although the Bruins would only secure four more hits the rest of the game, they included a two-run homer and three singles to make it an 8-0 mercy-rule victory.
The Cardinal’s schedule doesn’t get any easier — they take on No. 5 Washington (39-9, 16-4 Pac-12) at home this weekend in their final regular season series.