Over the weekend, Stanford softball (18-4, 0-0 Pac-12) traveled to Stillwater, Okla. for the OSU Tulsa Invitational, with matchups against No. 8 Oklahoma State (12-5, 0-0 Big 12), DePaul (7-11, 0-0 Big East), Tulsa (6-11, 0-0 AAC) and Minnesota (11-7, 0-0 Big Ten). After a weekend of doubleheaders and extra innings, Stanford left Cowgirl Stadium with a 3-2 record.
Oklahoma State doubleheader
On Friday morning, the Cardinal took on Oklahoma State for their first game. In the first and second innings, pitchers from both sides traded strikeouts. However, Cardinal sophomore pitcher Regan Krause lacked the precision of her Oklahoma State counterpart, pairing her strikeouts with several walks.
When the bottom of the third inning began with three walks for the Cowgirls, Stanford head coach Jessica Allister turned to the bullpen and brought in freshman pitcher Kylie Chung for Krause. With the bases loaded, a hit from Oklahoma State scored two runs, putting the Cowgirls up 3-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Stanford batters could not get on base. Three consecutive outs sent the Cardinal back to the field where the Cowgirls followed a single with a home run, extending their lead to 5-1.
In an effort to slow down Oklahoma State, Allister sent junior pitcher Tatum Boyd to the mound and later, senior pitcher Kate Cressey to finish the game. Though the pitching changes kept the Oklahoma State offense at bay, the Cardinal continued to struggle at the plate and ultimately lost 6-1.
The Cardinal rebounded for the second game of their doubleheader against Oklahoma State. Junior infielder Sydnee Huff set the tone for the upset, hitting a home run to center field in the top of the first inning.
When Stanford took the field, junior pitcher Alana Vawter made a statement with two strikeouts and no hits. In the second inning, Vawter kept pressure on Oklahoma State but was matched by Cowgirl pitcher Miranda Elish. Into the fourth inning, both pitchers kept the score low and allowed only one hit per team. Despite that, Oklahoma State paired a single with a triple to tie the score at one.
Both teams shuffled their batting lineups and pulled their best runners from the dugout to gain an offensive advantage. In the top of the sixth inning, Cressey came in to hit for senior utility Emily Schultz. After Cressey singled, putting junior outfielder Kaitlyn Lim on third, Schultz came back in as a pinch runner and stole second base.
With two runners in scoring position, sophomore outfielder Ellee Eck cleared the bases to put Stanford ahead 3-1. To close the game, Huff hit a double, and senior outfielder Taylor Gindlesperger hit a home run, extending the Cardinal lead to 5-1. The Cardinal would win by that four-run margin.
Suspense against DePaul
Saturday morning, Stanford faced DePaul in a suspenseful nine-inning game. The Blue Demons took an early lead in the first inning, capitalizing on a defensive error from Krause. After reaching base and stealing another, DePaul batted in an unearned run to jump out to a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, the Cardinal responded. Sophomore catcher Chloe Doyle hit a home run, and Eck batted in Schultz, who had previously doubled, to take a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Blue Demons scored two more unearned runs, benefitting from defensive errors by senior utility Emily Young.
Young redeemed herself with a single to left field in the top of the third before being replaced by senior outfielder Hannah Matteson, who came in as a pinch runner. With a home run from Lim, Stanford reclaimed the lead, 4-3.
In the fourth inning, DePaul quickly tied the score with another unearned run. But to follow the scoring flurry of the middle innings, the fifth through seventh innings were scoreless for both the Cardinal and Blue Demons. After regulation, the score was knotted at four.
As the game entered extra innings, both teams reshuffled their hitters and runners. Ultimately, in the bottom of the ninth inning, DePaul scored the winning run, handing Stanford a 6-5 loss.
Victory against Tulsa
Later that day, the Cardinal regrouped for a 1-0 win against Tulsa. In a low-scoring game, Vawter got the start and allowed the Golden Hurricanes only one hit and three walks.
Offensively, the Cardinal were similarly stifled by Tulsa pitcher Samantha Pochop. The first Cardinal hit came in the third inning, and their first run was in the seventh. Hoping to avoid another extra-inning game against an unranked team, Eck tripled, and Huff doubled to send her home. The single run was enough to lift the Cardinal over the Golden Hurricanes.
The Cardinal defeats Minnesota
For its final game of the weekend, Stanford defeated Minnesota 11-3. Vawter started again, but began slow, allowing three hits and two runs in the first inning. Stanford, however, dominated the rest of the contest.
To open the bottom of the first inning, Huff doubled to right field. Not long after, Young grounded to shortstop, giving Huff time to reach home plate, cutting the deficit to just 2-1.
In the next three innings, the Cardinal exploded for nine runs, giving them a 10-2 lead by the end of the fourth inning. A fifth-inning home run for the Gophers gave them hope for a comeback, but stellar defense from the Cardinal denied further advances.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Lim reached base on a walk, and sophomore outfielder Caelan Koch batted her in for the game’s final score.
On the day, Schultz, junior infielder Sydnee Steele, Huff and Lim each scored two runs. Filling out the rest of Stanford’s scores were runs from Matteson, Koch and sophomore catcher Aly Kaneshiro.
Over the five games, the Cardinal posted a respectable 3-2 record. The final landslide victory against Minnesota demonstrated the successful adjustments the team made following each loss in the invitational. The Cardinal’s performance on Sunday bodes well for the upcoming beginning of conference play.
On the road for their next game, the Cardinal will play Ball State (5-9, 0-0 MAC) to kick off the Mizzou Classic. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. PT.