By David Cohn
The Stanford softball team opened its season with an emphatic showing at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., finishing the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record as the Cardinal rolled in a series of impressive victories. Although the quality of competition at the Classic was not nearly as high as it will be in later non-conference tournaments and in Pac-12 regular season play, Stanford will nevertheless be able to draw several positives from its outstanding showing this weekend, in which the Card tallied five mercy-rule victories and outscored its opponents 60-6.
In particular, Stanford’s freshmen all had great starts to their careers on The Farm. In the circle, Madi Schreyer and Carley Hoover dominated opposing batters all weekend long, yielding only six earned runs in six starts. Schreyer, a Woodinville, Wash. native, had an outing to remember against Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon, as she and junior Nyree White combined to no-hit the Broncos in a 15-0 rout.
Schreyer did not allow a single baserunner in three innings of work against WMU, exiting the contest after throwing only 29 pitches. The 2012 Washington Gatorade Player of the Year also had an efficient outing on Friday morning against San Diego State; Schreyer notched six strikeouts while limiting the Aztecs to three total baserunners and one earned run over four innings in a 13-1 win for the Card.
Schreyer did a great job of minimizing the number of walks she allowed throughout the weekend, as she issued only six free passes in 13 innings of work while finishing with a solid 2.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Schreyer was also very successful at keeping the ball in the infield in her four appearances, as she totaled four flyouts to 18 groundouts while not allowing a single extra-base hit.
Hoover also shined in her debut for the Cardinal, as the Clemson, S.C. product picked up wins against North Carolina State and Indiana. Although NCSU entered the Kajikawa Classic having received votes in both ESPN.com/USA Softball and the USA Today/NFSCA polls, the Wolfpack had few answers in matching up against the 2013 Gatorade National Player of the Year.
After allowing a solo home run to fellow freshman Molly Hutchison in the top of the second inning, Hoover scattered three hits over the next 4 innings to pick up the complete-game victory against N.C. State, a 9-1 decision in favor of the Card. Hoover had an even better performance against the Hoosiers on Saturday morning of the Classic. The D.W. Daniel High School graduate only yielded a leadoff single in the fourth inning to Erin Lehman in four scoreless innings as Stanford steamrolled Indiana 9-0.
The Cardinal also had a tremendous weekend at the plate, as Stanford hit .413 in six games in the Arizona desert. In a return to her home state, sophomore and National Player of the Year Watch List selection Kayla Bonstrom validated her standing as one of the elite players in the Pac-12 conference; the 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year batted .467 in Tempe while driving in a team-leading 9 RBI.
Bonstrom opened her 2014 season with a bang against North Carolina State, going 3-for-4 against the Wolfpack with 3 RBI. In particular, Bonstrom’s two-run blast in the fifth inning to right-center field broke a 1-1 tie, giving the Cardinal a lead it would not relinquish. In fact, Bonstrom also capped that eight-run fifth inning with a walk-off RBI single that scored junior Hanna Winter and delivered Stanford its first mercy-rule win of the tournament.
Junior Cassandra Roulund also had a strong showing at the plate for the Card; Roulund hit .526 in 19 plate appearances while slugging a mind-boggling 1.053. The Trabuco Canyon, Calif. native was nearly unstoppable at the plate on Friday morning against San Diego State, as Roulund had a 3-for-4 performance with 4 RBI against the Aztecs.
The 2013 All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection began her day against SDSU with an RBI double in the top of the first inning, plating junior Leah White and extending the Card’s lead to 2-0. Roulund then led off the top of the third inning with a shot to right-center field, teeing off on the 0-1 delivery from Aztec freshman Andi Smith. Finally, the Tesoro High School graduate finished off the game with a 2-RBI single to right field as part of another eight-run Cardinal fifth inning increasing Stanford’s advantage to 11-1.
In other action this weekend, Stanford staved off Northwestern’s upset bid on Friday afternoon, defeating the Wildcats 4-3 on freshman Kylie Sorenson’s RBI single. In addition, sophomore Jessica Plaza had 4 RBI and her third home run of the weekend in a 10-1 rout of Seattle University on Sunday afternoon.
The Cardinal will be back in action this weekend, when it comes home for the first time this season to host the Stanford Nike Invitational. First pitch against Cal Poly on Friday will be at 2:30 p.m.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.