Men’s swimming coach Skip Kenney was here when Jimmy Carter was president, gas cost under a dollar per gallon and many of our parents were doing “The Hustle” in high school gyms across the country. In a month and a half, he’ll be gone. The famed coach announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a storied 33 years with the Cardinal that saw him guide 31 straight teams to Pac-10/12 conference titles and bring seven national championships to the Farm. It’s hard to imagine doing the same thing in the same place for that long, and that well. But—not to diminish his achievements—Kenney is not alone in the world of college sports. At Stanford, 13 of our 35 varsity teams are led by a head coach who has held that position for at least 10 years. Baseball’s Mark Marquess, in the home stretch of his 36th year as the Cardinal’s lead man, is the only coach who has been here longer than Kenney, with women’s basketball’s Tara VanDerveer having held her post for 26 seasons.
The No. 12 Stanford baseball team entered the weekend with major questions on the mound, slumbering bats and an unimpressive 11-10 record in a conference that it was once a near-unanimous favorite to win.
There are no easy weekends in Pac-12 baseball, but you would be hard-pressed to schedule a home stretch with more chances to make up ground than No. 12 Stanford’s final three weeks. With Stanford (29-14, 11-10 Pac-12) staring up at conference leader No. 10 Oregon (34-14, 16-8), the Cardinal’s upcoming series against the eighth-, 11th- and ninth-place teams in the Pac-12 are an opportunity that the squad can’t afford to let slip away. Stanford’s quest to improve its playoff positioning begins tonight at Sunken Diamond against a Washington State (23-20, 9-11) team that has lost its last two Pac-12 series.
At this point of the season, the mission is simple for the No. 7 Stanford baseball team: three games to gain, four weeks to go. And though the Cardinal (28-12, 10-8 Pac-12) will play the last month of its conference season against the bottom half of the Pac-12, a major slip-up this weekend at No. 20 Oregon State (28-14, 9-9) would all but end Stanford’s chance of winning the best conference in college baseball, which it was a near-unanimous favorite to capture in the preseason.
Things seem to be clicking for the No. 9 Stanford baseball team at just the right time, with a key Pac-12 series against No. 11 UCLA (27-10, 11-7) in Westwood, Calif. kicking off tonight. Going a perfect 4-0 and scoring at least eight runs in all four of its games this week, Stanford’s bats finally seem to be coming together again with five weekends of conference play remaining. But it hasn’t been preseason All-American juniors Kenny Diekroeger and Stephen Piscotty leading the charge; instead, the Cardinal (26-10, 8-7 Pac-12) has been getting much of its production from players who have been making some of their first starts of the season due to injuries to centerfielder Jake Stewart and shortstop Lonnie Kauppila.
This weekend couldn’t have been much more successful for the No. 10 Stanford baseball team, which swept the No. 20 Arizona State Sun Devils thanks to strong hitting from freshman third baseman Alex Blandino.
For the No. 10 Stanford baseball team, the best pitching squad in the conference couldn’t be coming to Sunken Diamond at a worse time. Hitting just .168 over the past week, the Cardinal (22-10, 5-7 Pac-12) will need to turn things around quickly if it wants to stay competitive against Arizona State (24-13, 9-6), which did not receive votes in the coaches poll due to NCAA sanctions, but was ranked No. 20 by Baseball America this week. The Sun Devils have allowed five runs just twice in their ten games in April, making for a 2.57 ERA on the season that ranked third in the country as of Monday.