By David Cohn
Another season of Stanford softball has finally arrived for fans of the program, as the Cardinal will return to the diamond when they head to Tempe, Arizona for the Kajikawa Classic this week.
After a long offseason, head coach Rachel Hanson and assistant coaches Dorian Shaw and Megan Langenfeld will make their Stanford coaching debuts. Hanson brings a track record of success from her previous coaching opportunities to the Farm: most recently, she led Dartmouth College to its first ever Ivy League Championship in 2014. Shaw and Langenfeld both had standout careers as collegiate softball players at Michigan and UCLA, respectively, before playing professional softball.
The Cardinal figure to have another incredibly strong offense in 2015, as the entire starting lineup from 2014 is back for this season. Stanford will be able to turn to a senior class of six players for production, with 2014 NFCA All-West Region Second Team selection Leah White, 2014 NFCA All-West Region Third Team selection Erin Ashby and 2014 All Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection Hanna Winter and 2014 Pac-12 All-Academic Second Team selection Cassandra Roulund all primed to have strong seasons for the Card.
White, who has won three NFCA All-West Region selections in her Stanford career, led the Cardinal in hits while posting a .356 batting average and a .441 on-base percentage last season. White was also outstanding in the field for Stanford, as she went the final 54 games of the 2014 season without committing a single error.
In her second season as a starter, Ashby was one of the best offensive players for Stanford. The La Crescenta, California native not only tied for the team lead in home runs with junior Jessica Plaza, but also notched a .440 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage. Winter will continue to provide production for the Card as a bunter, slapper and baserunner who also has the ability to hit gap-to-gap. Winter led the Cardinal in 2014 in stolen bases and runs scored.
Finally, Roulund has provided great run and extra-base hit production through her aggressive approach, as the Trabuco Canyon, California product posted a .479 slugging percentage and 38 RBIs.
In addition to the Card’s six seniors, Stanford will also turn to sophomores Kylie Sorenson and Bessie Noll and juniors Kayla Bonstrom and Jessica Plaza on offense. Sorenson posted one of the finest seasons for a freshman last season in recent program history as the All Pac-12 Second Team selection led the Cardinal in multiple offensive categories, including batting average (.363), slugging percentage (.586) and walks (37).
Noll, a 2014 Pac-12 All Freshman Team Honorable Mention selection, relied on her patient approach at the plate in order to post a .406 on-base percentage. Bonstrom, the 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, had a team-leading 44 RBIs last season for the Card. Finally, Plaza has been a strong power hitter for the Cardinal, tying for the team’s lead with six home runs to go along with a .496 slugging percentage.
In the circle, sophomore Madi Schreyer will again be called upon to lead the pitching rotation for Stanford after Carley Hoover’s transfer to LSU. As the Cardinal’s only healthy full-time pitcher for most of the 2014 season, Schreyer had to hold the entire staff together, which obviously is an extremely difficult proposition for any pitcher, let alone a freshman pitcher. Schreyer posted a 3.70 ERA after throwing 242.1 of the team’s 347.2 innings, earning All Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors.
The Card will also likely turn to freshman Haley Snyder in the circle. Snyder, a Fair Oaks, California product, was a three-time Capital Valley Conference All-League selection at Christian Brothers High School.
Hanson has yet to formally announce who would potentially serve as a possible third pitcher for Stanford if the Cardinal are in need of depth at the position. However, that answer may come as soon as this weekend, depending on how the games are going for the Card.
Stanford will open the 2015 season against ACC opponent Virginia at the Tempe Sports Complex on Thursday at 7 p.m. Pacific. The Cardinal last played the Cavaliers in 2013 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, with the Card knocking off UVA by a score of 4-0.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.