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Two forced turnovers later, it's back to a 77-72 game. Stanford doing whatever it can to stick around.: 10 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Stanford playing sloppy ball, BYU playing clean, foul-free ball on the other end. It's 72-59 Cougars, who have opened it up with 5 to play.: 21 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Miscues and sloppy passing from Stanford cue another BYU run, and the lead is back to 9 at 68-59 with 6 minutes to go.: 24 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Stanford cuts the lead to 61-57 with 7:25 to play. Card stubbornly hanging around against a quality opponent.: 29 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Sanders sinks the breakaway transition 3 to pull the BYU lead back down to 6 and kill some momentum. Stanford hanging around. 61-55 Cougars.: 31 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Sanders and Allen check in with the Card trailing by 9. A run from BYU opens up the lead again.: 34 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Freshman forward Reid Travis already has a career-high 15 points.: 43 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
After trailing the Cougars throughout the first half, Stanford within 3 at 52-49 BYU midway through the second half.: 43 mins ago, Stanford Daily Sport
Dwight Powell on SportsCenter now as the "other piece" of the Rondo trade: 1 day ago, Stanford Daily Sport
ICYMI, Dwight Powell was traded from the Celtics to the Mavs as part of the Rajon Rondo deal yesterday.: 2 days ago, Stanford Daily Sport

Stanford softball seeks statement in Westwood

The Pac-12 Conference in softball is one of the toughest draws in collegiate athletics this season, featuring five top-15 teams, including the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the nation. Unfortunately for the Cardinal (28-21, 3-15 Pac-12), the gauntlet at the back end of their schedule matches them up against the toughest of their conference competition in consecutive series, as Stanford will take to the road and visit No. 2 UCLA (44-4, 15-3) just a week after suffering a sweep at the hands of No. 1 Oregon.

Erin Ashby (above) and the Cardinal offense will be hard-pressed for runs against UCLA's pitching staff, one of the best in the country. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Erin Ashby (above) and the Cardinal offense will be hard-pressed for runs against UCLA’s pitching staff, one of the best in the country. (FRANK CHEN/The Stanford Daily)

Stanford is still seeking its first conference series win of the season and sits in eighth place in the nine-team conference, ahead of just Oregon State. However, things are looking bleak this weekend for the Cardinal, which have only claimed one victory over teams ranked in the top 15 this season — in 13 tries. Meanwhile, the powerful Bruins have only lost this year to teams ranked in the top five.

The Cardinal are coming off of a hard-fought 2-1 non-conference win over St. Mary’s to kick off their final road trip of its season, while UCLA is fresh off of a sweep of Cal and is riding an 11-game winning streak coming into the matchup.

UCLA brings a remarkably balanced team to the table, with both its offense and pitching staff ranked in the top 15 in the nation. Bruins pitchers have combined for a 1.73 ERA this season and have held opposing hitters to a combined .202 batting average, and will look to stifle a Stanford offense that has struggled as of late, with only five runs scored in its last four contests.

The Bruins pitching staff is led by a two-pronged attack in junior Ally Carda and senior Jessica Hall, who both own sub-2.00 ERAs and have combined to strike out over 31 percent of the batters that they have faced this season. If Stanford will be looking to emerge from southern California with a series win, it will need its offense to step up in a big way to give a Cardinal pitching staff that has been shaky at times this season the run support that it will undoubtedly need.

The UCLA offense is hitting .337 as a unit and is ranked ninth in the country in that metric, giving freshman pitcher Madi Schreyer a lot to think about heading into this weekend. Schreyer has been a stalwart in the circle all season for the Cardinal to the tune of a 3.34 ERA and 161 strikeouts, but she’ll need to dig deep to quiet down the Bruins’ offense after struggling against Oregon in last weekend’s series.

UCLA boasts nine hitters on its roster with averages over .300 and is led by sophomore infielder Mysha Sataraka, who is hitting a tremendous .355 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs on the season. She is backed up in a deep lineup by junior Stephany LaRosa, who is hitting .398 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. Six Bruins hitters have hit five or more home runs this season, while eight have driven in 20 or more runs.

After the tall order against UCLA over the weekend, Stanford will return home to face conference cellar-dweller Oregon State in its final series of the season.

Friday’s game against UCLA will start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, Saturday’s game will start at 3 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPNU and Sunday’s series finale will start at noon and will be televised on ESPN.

Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park '16 is the head copy editor, a sports desk editor and a former Managing Editor of Sports at The Daily. He fills the "Crazy Old Uncle" role at The Daily, occasionally being allowed to throw up football stories and rant-y columns. Do-Hyoung is a junior from Saint Paul, Minnesota studying chemical engineering and computer science. To contact him, please email him at dpark027 'at' stanford.edu.