Kelsey Stevens came within two outs of perfection at the Stanford Nike Invitational last weekend. This time at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Stevens would not be denied. Stevens’ perfect game on Saturday night of the four-day tournament was merely one of the numerous standout performances from the No. 17 Stanford women’s softball, which won four of five games in Cathedral City, California.
Playing against top-flight competition at one of the premier tournaments in college softball, the Cardinal (14-3) shined, and perhaps no one shone brighter for Stanford than Stevens.
Last week’s Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, the freshman followed up her sensational weekend at the Nike Invitational with an even better encore that was encapsulated by her bout of perfection against the University of Virginia. In recording her first perfect game wearing a Cardinal uniform, Stevens sent all 21 Cavalier batters she faced back to the dugout empty-handed, including 10 on strikeouts.
“Kelsey was fantastic for us against Virginia. She had all of her pitches working and kept Virginia off balance,” Stanford head coach John Rittman told the Palo Alto Online. “I am very happy for Kelsey and excited about her performance.”
In addition to her perfect game, for the second weekend in a row, Stevens did not allow an earned run while striking out 19 and notching victories against No. 13 Georgia, UVA, and No. 23 Florida State. In the process, she lowered her ERA to 0.99.
Redshirt senior Sarah Hassman also had a weekend to remember. In Friday’s matchup against Oklahoma State, which Stanford lost 4-1, the centerfielder recorded the 87th stolen base of her career to break Jessica Mendoza ‘02’s all-time stolen base record.
After missing most of last season due to an ACL injury, the 2011 NFCA First Team All-West Region selection has returned to outstanding form in 2013. Over the weekend, Hassman batted .412 while driving in three runs. In Friday’s contest against Georgia, Hassman’s three-run home run in the top of the fifth inning gave the Cardinal a 5-0 lead to break open the game. Stanford would ultimately win 6-0.
Senior Teagan Gerhart turned in a strong pitching performance to support her freshman teammate. On Sunday, after Stevens conceded back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the sixth inning in a tight 2-1 contest against Florida State, Gerhart entered the game in relief and coolly proceeded to snuff out any hope that the Seminoles had of a comeback.
The senior retired the first three Florida State hitters she faced on a flyout to third, a strikeout and a groundout to first base. Gerhart finished off the six-out save with a nearly perfect seventh inning, allowing only one base runner on a hit-by-pitch, to give Stanford the 3-1 win.
Later that afternoon, Gerhart continued her domination of opposing hitters by shutting down the Syracuse Orange. The 2012 NFCA Second Team All-West Region selection gave up one run on two hits and struck out a season-high 11 batters in securing her sixth win of the season. The Cardinal bats put up two runs to take a tight 2-1 victory.
Stanford was not as prolific at the plate as it was last weekend but still hit .275 as a team over the course of five games. The Card’s best offensive output came against Virginia, as Stanford pounded 15 hits against Cavalier starter Melanie Mitchell—six players finished with multiple hits in the resounding 4-0 victory.
Sophomore Cassandra Roulund also excelled at the plate for the Card, hitting .429 with three RBI in the four-day classic. After her second consecutive solid tournament, the outfielder now leads the team with 14 RBI for the year and is fourth on the team in batting average with a .341 mark.
The Cardinal returns to action next weekend in Fullerton, Calif., as Stanford will take on Big Ten clubs Iowa, Indiana, Northwestern and Wisconsin, as well as Cal State Fullerton, in the Easton Invitational.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.