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Softball looks to continue scoring rampage at Nike Invitational

After dispatching its competition at the Kajikawa Classic with relative ease, the No. 14 Cardinal softball team will come home to play its first set of home games at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal moved to 6-0 on the season after outscoring its opponents 60-6 in six games in Tempe, Ariz., and the Card will look to continue its hot start when the Nike Invitational begins on Friday morning.

Sophomore Jessica Plaza (center) is one of 24 players who will try out for the U.S. Women's National Softball Team. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

Sophomore Jessica Plaza (center) is one of 24 players who will try out for the U.S. Women’s National Softball Team. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

At the Kajikawa Classic, Stanford’s five freshmen all had significant impacts in their first games in Cardinal uniforms. In the circle, Maddi Schreyer and Carley Hoover picked up all six victories for the Card, with both maintaining ERAs well below 3.00. Kylie Sorenson started all six games at shortstop for the Cardinal, where she did not commit a single error at the difficult position. In addition, Sorenson also made a big contribution on offense, as she batted .444 with four extra-base hits and 8 RBI.

Bessie Noll made all six starts in right field for the Card while hitting a team-best .647 at the plate. In particular, Noll’s 2-for-3, 2-RBI game helped key a 15-0 rout on Saturday afternoon against Western Michigan. Finally, Lauren Bertoy batted .333 as a pinch hitter for the Cardinal and made the most of her plate appearances with a 2-run single to left field against San Diego State that gave Stanford a 13-1 lead.

Jessica Plaza also had an outstanding week both on and off the field for the Cardinal. After the sophomore was selected as one of 24 players who will participate in tryouts for the 2014 United States Softball Women’s National Team, Plaza proceeded to tee off on opposing pitching at the Kajikawa Classic. The Huntington Beach, Calif. product had three home runs in the Arizona desert, including the first multi-homer game of her college career against Indiana. In addition to leading the team in home runs, Plaza also leads the Card in slugging percentage with a 1.167 mark.

Stanford will play five games as part of its Nike Invitational slate, including Friday and Saturday afternoon contests against the Cal Poly Mustangs (2-3). Cal Poly also opened its season with a series of games at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend and played three opponents that the Cardinal also faced: San Diego State, Seattle University and Indiana. While the Cardinal defeated all three of those teams via the mercy rule, Cal Poly notched a combined 1-2 record against the Aztecs, Redhawks and Hoosiers.

The Mustangs defeated the Hoosiers 9-2 on the final day of the Kajikawa Classic; in turn, Cal Poly lost 8-4 to Seattle University in its Friday opener and fell to San Diego State 6-3 Saturday afternoon. However, despite Cal Poly’s inconsistent play in Arizona, the Mustangs showed that, on their best day, they are capable of playing with the elite teams in the country, as evidenced by their upset of then-No. 8 Oregon on the second day of the Classic

The Cardinal will also play against the Bradley Braves of the Missouri Valley Conference in two games on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Bradley (0-5) had a rough start to its season at the Kajikawa Classic; in addition to a heartbreaking extra-innings loss to Indiana in its opening game, the Braves were blown out by then No. 24 Cal 10-3 and also suffered an 8-0 defeat against the Colorado State Rams.

Finally, Stanford will finish off its participation in the Nike Invitational with a Sunday matinee against the Pacific Tigers. While Pacific (1-0) had its season-opening doubleheader against Sacramento State rained out, the Tigers were able to win at UC-Davis to start their 2014 season off on a positive note. The Tigers and Cardinal met twice last season, with each team protecting its home field in their non-conference matchups; the Card knocked off the Tigers 2-0 in their first meeting last season before the Tigers returned the favor by stunning the then-No. 15 Cardinal 9-6 in Stockton, Calif.

The Cardinal will kick off the Nike Invitational at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon against Cal Poly before facing Bradley at 4:45 p.m.

Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About David Cohn

David Cohn is a senior staff writer for Stanford football and softball, as well as an assistant editor of staff development. David is a junior biology major from Poway, Calif. who also covers football and softball for KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM as the lead play-by-play announcer for both sports.