By David Cohn
Stanford’s softball team (14-14) had an up-and-down weekend hosting the Louisville Slugger Classic, as the Cardinal concluded its non-conference schedule with two wins over Santa Clara (5-17), while getting swept by No. 17 Minnesota (18-4) over three games. In the end, while Stanford can point to wins over Alabama and Texas as highlights from its non-conference slate, the Cardinal still have work to do as they prepare for a difficult and unrelenting Pac-12 conference schedule.
“Overall, we competed really well. Our bats are really alive right now. We are making good adjustments, and we are attacking,” said head coach Rachel Hanson. “Defensively, we really cleaned things up this weekend. We made all of the routine plays, and made some spectacular ones as well.
“We are competing, which is a big part of where we need to be right now. I am excited headed into conference play. There is still a lot of this year left.”
While Stanford’s offense had a good weekend at home in posting a .309 team batting average, the Cardinal certainly missed sophomore ace Madi Schreyer in the circle, as the 2014 Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection did not pitch in the tournament. Without Schreyer, the Card could not keep up with a potent and incredibly efficient Minnesota offense, as the Golden Gophers scored at least nine runs in all three games against Stanford.
In Stanford’s 10-5 loss to Minnesota on Friday night, the Golden Gophers only left three runners on base while notching eight hits, six walks and three home runs against the Cardinal staff. In the second game on Saturday afternoon, Minnesota remarkably left only one runner on base, as the Golden Gophers run-ruled the Cardinal 9-1 in five innings; Minnesota also posted two more home runs and four doubles in fueling the rout.
Finally, in completing the sweep on Sunday morning, Minnesota left only three runners on base, while hitting 7-for-14 with runners on base in its 9-5 win over the Cardinal.
On offense, several Stanford players had very strong weekends at the Louisville Slugger Classic, with five players posting a .350 batting average or better. In particular, sophomore Kylie Sorenson had a great weekend at the plate, leading the Cardinal in batting average (.500), slugging percentage (.900) and on-base percentage (.643). Sorenson helped Stanford put away Santa Clara on Saturday morning in the fourth inning with a towering two run shot to left field; her two-run homer gave Stanford a 10-5 lead, and from there, the Cardinal would score three more runs to run-rule the Broncos.
Junior Kayla Bonstrom continued her sensational start to the 2015 season with another strong performance on the Farm. Bonstrom finished second on the team in batting average (.467), slugging percentage (.867) and on-base percentage (.556) to Sorenson this weekend. In particular, the 2013 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year’s blast to right center field in the seventh inning on Sunday morning on the first pitch from Minnesota starter Sara Groenewegen helped cut the deficit to four. However, Minnesota would prevail, as the Card could not sustain the late rally started by Bonstrom.
Finally, senior Hanna Winter was a difference maker throughout this weekend’s action, posting a .389 batting average and a .611 slugging percentage to go along with a team-leading 5 RBI, 2 steals and 2 triples. Winter’s first triple came in the 13-5 rout on Saturday of Santa Clara, as the Camarillo, California product drove a 2-2 pitch from Bronco reliever McCall James down the left field line. Later in the tournament, Winter’s second triple of the weekend cut the deficit to 6-3 in Sunday’s contest with Minnesota with a three-base shot to right center field, scoring Sorenson and senior Cassandra Roulund.
Stanford softball returns to action after finals in two weeks with its conference opening series against the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.