By David Cohn
With the calendar turning from January to February, a new season of Stanford softball has arrived on The Farm. The No. 20/22 Cardinal will attempt to build off of a successful 2013 campaign in which it finished with a 39-21 overall record, Stanford’s first winning mark in Pac-12 play since 2009. While the team aims to clinch its 17th consecutive NCAA tournament berth, the Card has its sights set on more than just a trip to the regionals.
This year’s team is filled with young talent, as the Cardinal has only two seniors on the roster: outfielder Corey Hanewich and designated player/catcher Danielle Miller. In particular, the Card will look to rely on its underclassmen in the circle with the graduation of star pitcher Teagan Gerhart. Freshmen Carley Hoover and Madi Schreyer, two members of Stanford’s highly touted recruiting class of 2013, will join junior Nyree White in anchoring the pitching staff this season.
Hoover, a Clemson, S.C. product, was the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year, as she finished her high school senior season with a 16-4 record and a nearly unfathomable 0.15 ERA. In addition, Hoover hit .500 at the plate while leading her high school to a South Carolina state championship.
Schreyer, a Woodinville, Wash. native, was Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012, as she capped her junior season with a perfect 21-0 record and a paltry 0.28 ERA in leading Woodinville High School to a state championship.
In the field, the Cardinal will return six starters from last year’s squad, including sophomore Kayla Bonstrom, who was recently named to USA Softball’s Top 50 Watch List for the National Collegiate Player of the Year award. Bonstrom, a Tucson, Ariz. native, earned the distinction after a standout freshman season, in which she led the Card in each triple slash category, in addition to runs batted in (RBI). In turn, Bonstrom was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a Pac-12 First Team All-Conference player.
Stanford will also lean on contributions from its sizeable junior class, as juniors Hanna Winter, Leah White, Cassandra Roulund and Erin Ashby will all have big impacts again this year. Winter, a Camarillo, Calif. product, had another outstanding season in 2013 after earning Pac-12 First Team honors as a freshman. She hit .346 with 19 RBIs while making some tremendous plays on defense at third base.
White, a 2013 NFCA All-West Region Second Team selection, will once again figure to be an important contributor in the outfield for the Card after a 2013 season that saw her start 58 games in left field while batting .324 and driving in 27 runs. Roulund, a Trabuco Canyon, Calif. native, led the Pac-12 in triples with six three-baggers while blasting eight homers and slugging .552, both good for third on the team.
Finally, Ashby, who had nine multi-RBI games and six home runs last season, will look to carry on her performance from the end of 2013. The La Crescenta, Calif. native hit .333 in the Lincoln Regional of the NCAA tournament, which included a 2-for-4 day with two RBI’s against then-No. 16 Nebraska.
Stanford will play in its first non-conference tournament of the season this Thursday through Sunday, as the Cardinal heads to the Arizona desert to participate in the Kajikawa Classic. The Card’s toughest game in this tournament will perhaps be its opener on Thursday night against North Carolina State. The Wolfpack, the defending ACC Tournament Champions, are currently sitting on the fringe of the Top 25 in both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and the ESPN/USA Softball Poll.
While in Tempe, Ariz., Stanford will also face two Big Ten programs — the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday and the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday. The Cardinal and Hoosiers are certainly familiar with each other’s programs, as the two teams faced off twice last season —once in last year’s Kajikawa Classic, an 8-2 victory for Stanford. The Cardinal also knocked off Indiana in the 2013 Easton Invitational, with the Card blanking the Hoosiers 7-0 in Fullerton, Calif.
The Cardinal also played the Wildcats in last year’s Easton Invitational, with Stanford coming out on top 5-2. In total, Stanford owns an 11-6 record all-time against Indiana and Northwestern.
Contests against San Diego State, Western Michigan and Seattle round out the Card’s slate of games in Tempe. Sunday’s game between Stanford and Seattle will mark the first meeting between the two programs, while the Cardinal owns an 11-4 record all-time against SDSU, as well as a 3-1 mark against WMU.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.