By David Cohn
Stanford softball had a solid start to its 2015 season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, as the Cardinal went 4-2 in the competition, while picking up their first win against a top-25 squad this year on Saturday against the Texas Longhorns. Stanford’s offense was simply sensational in Tempe this weekend, repeatedly crushing opposing pitching staffs throughout the tournament. The Card, which returned their entire starting lineup from 2014, when Stanford set a program record for runs batted in for a single season, have the potential to be one of the greatest offensive teams in program history, if this weekend’s performance is any indication.
In six games, the Cardinal scored 52 runs with a .339 team batting average, a .433 team on-base percentage and a .564 team slugging percentage. Stanford also knocked 18 extra-base hits, including 7 doubles and 8 homers. The Card’s offensive performance was even more impressive, considering that 16 different players started at least one game at the tournament.
In a tournament filled with standout performances, sophomore Lauren Bertoy was the best player on offense for Stanford. While Bertoy only started in four games last year as a bench player, she has already started in more games this season; in starting in all six games for the Card, Bertoy led the Cardinal in batting average (.615), doubles (3) and RBI (9) this weekend. In fact, Bertoy’s 9 RBIs more than doubled the next highest individual RBI total for Stanford.
Bertoy started the tournament by drawing two walks in Stanford’s 11-3, six-inning rout of the University of Virginia (1-4). After a relatively quiet Friday, Bertoy absolutely caught fire on Saturday during the Cardinal’s victories over Bradley (1-4) and No. 25 Texas (3-2). In the first game against Bradley, Bertoy drew a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second as part of a three-run inning. Subsequently, after blasting a single back up the middle in the third, Bertoy plated two runs with a double in the fourth to right center field, helping to establish the final 10-0 margin in favor of the Cardinal.
In the second game, a 10-9 slugfest of a win for the Card over the Longhorns, Bertoy helped spark a massive comeback after the Cardinal fell behind 7-3 to Texas. After sophomore Kylie Sorenson cut the deficit to two with a single to left-center, Bertoy tied the game with two more runs on a single to left field, scoring Sorenson and junior Jessica Plaza. In her next at-bat, after Texas went down in order in the bottom of the third, Bertoy ripped a clutch double with two outs to right-center to give Stanford its second lead of the game at 9-7.
— Stanford Softball (@StanfordSball) February 8, 2015
In addition to Bertoy’s efforts, juniors Plaza and Kayla Bonstrom also had strong weekends for the Card. Plaza and Bonstrom both tied for the team lead in home runs with 2 homers apiece; en route to a 1.000 slugging percentage in Tempe, Plaza went deep in the Card’s 7-5 loss to Cal State Northridge (4-1) on Friday morning, and on Saturday against Bradley. Bonstrom notched home runs against Virginia and Texas. Plaza and Bonstrom also both scored a team-leading 7 runs in the tournament.
Stanford picked up its first marquee non-conference win with the come-from-behind victory over the Longhorns, while the Cardinal’s twin 7-5 losses came to Cal State Northridge and the University of North Carolina (3-2), which had both received votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Although Northridge began the season outside of the national softball discussion, the Matadors will likely be ranked or receive votes in this week’s poll, as CSUN also knocked off host Arizona State, the No. 16 team in the nation, and Wisconsin, who also received votes in last week’s poll.
Nevertheless, the tournament highlighted the need for the Cardinal to improve on defense in order to help out the rotation of sophomore Madi Schreyer and freshman Haley Snyder. While Stanford only posted a team ERA of 2.53 at the Kajikawa Classic, the Cardinal committed 7 errors in six games, which translated into 13 unearned runs. Although Stanford managed to pull out the victory against Texas, the Card certainly did not make it easy on themselves, as eight of the nine runs scored by the Longhorns were unearned.
Furthermore, errors loomed large in the loss to Cal State Northridge, as five out of the seven runs scored by the Matadors were also unearned. Quite simply, Stanford will have to cut down on the number of errors in order to challenge the best teams in the Pac-12 conference this season.
Stanford softball opens its home schedule this coming weekend as part of the Stanford Nike Invitational. The Cardinal will take on Cal Poly, No. 4 Alabama and Pacific as part of the three-day event at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.