By David Cohn
Stanford softball (16-26, 1-11 Pac-12) and Saint Mary’s (17-27, 1-5 WCC) played an offense-filled game on Wednesday evening at Smith Family Stadium, with the teams blasting a combined 19 runs and 22 hits. However, in the end, the Cardinal could not overcome a rough first two innings in the circle, falling to the Gaels by a 10-9 margin.
Stanford struggled mightily with its pitching in the first two frames, as Saint Mary’s notched 8 runs on 6 hits, with senior Sarah Lira and junior Loralie Fitzpatrick going deep to help spot the Gaels an 8-2 lead.
However, the Card would certainly not quit, battling back with a huge third inning to cut the Saint Mary’s lead to 8-7. After junior Kayla Bonstrom singled and senior Leah White walked on four pitches, sophomore Bessie Noll continued to excel at the plate by homering for the third time in four games.
Noll’s bomb to left field chased Saint Mary’s starter Katlyn Whitt from the circle; the entrance of Gaels reliever Katie Moss could not stop the Card’s resurgence at the plate, with sophomore Lauren Bertoy powering a double to left field to follow up on her solo home run in the bottom of the second. Two batters later, senior Hanna Winter continued to maintain her tremendous form of the last month of the season with an RBI single as part of a 5-for-5, 2-RBI day. Finally, Bonstrom boosted her RBI total to 45 with a bases-loaded walk.
From there, after 15 combined runs in the first three innings, the contest transformed into a pitchers’ duel, with Moss and senior Erin Ashby both hitting their spots. Stanford’s loss on Wednesday spoiled an absolutely brilliant performance by Ashby, who allowed only 3 earned runs and 5 hits in six strong innings. Ashby also helped her own cause in the circle by hitting a deep solo shot to left field that cleared the hedges and the 200-foot fence at Smith Family Stadium, tying the game at 8. At the plate, Ashby finished 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs in another outstanding performance for the La Crescenta, California native.
Unfortunately, however, a single mistake by Ashby in the circle in the top of the seventh inning with two outs and a 1-1 count proved costly, as sophomore Giana Bilotta homered to left field to plate two and provide the decisive runs in the game. A late rally by the Cardinal in the bottom of the seventh fell just short, with Ashby taking the loss in the circle.
In reaction to Ashby’s great game both pitching and hitting for Stanford, head coach Rachel Hanson said, “Erin did a great job. We were really only asking two innings from her. For her to go [six innings], going that long and strong, it is a credit to her for being such a battler in the circle.”
On the topic of Ashby’s home run, Hanson added: “That was a shot. That was fun for her. She has been scraping away in the box, and it is good to get a reward.”
Stanford softball returns to action on Saturday afternoon when the Cardinal begin a three-game series with the No. 1-ranked Oregon Ducks.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.