Though Stanford softball showed no mercy over the visiting Utah Utes, the sport’s rules did. The No. 15 Cardinal swept the Utes at Smith Family Stadium over the weekend, winning by the mercy-rule in all three games, 8-0, 12-0 and 9-1 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. Over the weekend, Stanford (32-16, 9-9 Pac-12) produced 29 runs on 41 hits, easily its most productive offensive series on the year, that resulted in a three-game sweep of the Utes (23-27-1, 6-15 Pac-12).
Freshman first baseman Kayla Bonstrom continued her string of impressive displays with six hits, including two home runs and seven RBI over the weekend. She came into the series with seven hits in her previous 16 at bats with six RBI in that stretch. Although Bonstrom may have been Stanford’s star at the plate over the weekend, the Cardinal won with production from the entire lineup.
“One through nine,” Bonstrom said, “right now we’re all hitting the ball really well.”
The Card’s new leadoff hitter, sophomore third baseman Hanna Winter finished the series with seven hits and nine RBI. Heading into Sunday’s game, the only stat missing from Winter’s strong weekend was a home run.
Speaking about Bonstrom’s mammoth home run blast to center field after Saturday’s game, Winter commented, “I’m jealous, I want to hit a home run. Hopefully, sometime soon, I’ll get one.”
And in fact, in Sunday’s finale, Winter hit her first collegiate home run to put the Cardinal up 5-0 in the second inning.
In addition to the solid performance at the plate, Stanford witnessed a revival in the pitching staff as senior Teagan Gerhart and freshman Kelsey Stevens combined to limit Utah to just eight hits and one run over the three-game set.
Cardinal pitchers had surrendered 26 runs over the previous four games, but Gerhart and Stevens showed no signs of that slump as they dispatched a Utah lineup that came in hot, scoring 25 runs in its two previous games against Southern Utah.
“They pitched really well; they bounced back,” Stanford head coach John Rittman said of Gerhart and Stevens. “They’ve had a rough stretch of games coming into this weekend but they’re both very capable pitchers and it’s a lot about trust, going out there and knowing that you can do the job and they both have done that.”
Stanford will need the improved pitching to continue as it heads into a battle with UC-Davis on Wednesday and the always-critical series with No. 10 California over the weekend. The key to Stanford’s success, at least in Rittman’s eyes, is simple.
“We need to continue to pitch well,” Rittman said. “That’s the start of everything for us.”
Stanford topped the Aggies (21-24, 8-10 Big West) 8-0 at the Stanford Nike Invitational at Smith Family Stadium back in February. While not the greatest threat offensively, the Aggies do possess four solid pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs that can certainly slow down opposing offenses. As a whole, the Aggies’ 2.36 team ERA on the season ranks in the top 50 nationally.
Though the looming showdown against Cal is this weekend, the Cardinal cannot forget about the Aggies. The Cardinal has dropped two mid-week non-conference games in a row, falling to Pacific 9-6 and Saint Mary’s 5-2 the past two Wednesdays. In the hunt for hosting a regional in the postseason with only eight regular season games remaining, another loss to a weaker non-conference opponent could prove devastating.
First pitch Wednesday at UC-Davis is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.