By David Cohn
Stanford softball (16-32, 1-17 Pac-12) was swept in Tucson, Arizona this weekend, as the Arizona Wildcats overwhelmed the overmatched Cardinal with three straight run-rule decisions. Stanford’s makeshift rotation, consisting entirely of position players, could not keep in check a high-powered Wildcats offense in a hitters-oriented park, as the Cats dropped a combined 43 runs in the three games.
In Friday’s opener, Stanford’s defense did not help the Cardinal’s efforts, as three errors translated into a couple of unearned runs for the Arizona offense. In particular, two errors in the outfield for Stanford helped extend the first two innings for the Wildcats.
In addition, Stanford’s offense was completely non-existent in Game 1 of the series, with the Card notching only a single hit off the bat of senior Erin Ashby. Otherwise, Arizona pitchers Michelle Floyd and Trish Parks shut down the Cardinal, with Stanford going 0-for-9 with runners on base, 0-for-4 in RBI opportunities and 3-for-11 in advancement opportunities.
The excellent performances from Floyd and Parks gave plenty of cushion to the Arizona lineup, which scored in every inning en route to the 11-0 decision in five innings. Five Wildcat players notched 2 RBI, with Chelsea Goodacre, Mo Mercado, and Ashleigh Hughes going deep to punctuate the performance.
Stanford’s struggles to manufacture an offense continued in Saturday’s second game, with the Cardinal going 1-for-14 with runners on base and 1-for-8 in RBI opportunities, despite drawing 5 walks and putting 4 hits on the board. Ashby’s strong performance at the plate continued in the losing effort, with the La Crescenta, California native blasting her fifth home run of the season to knot the score at 1 in the top of the second.
However, from there, the Wildcats would outscore the Card 9-1 over the rest of the game, with Wildcats fifth-year senior Kellie Fox going deep as part of a 3-RBI game. In addition, Mo Mercado notched her second double to end the game, with Arizona scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the sixth to finish off the Cardinal in another run-rule.
Finally, the weekend series hit its nadir in Sunday’s finale, as the Wildcats pounded 22 runs on 18 hits to sweep away Stanford in a 22-5 decision. For the Cats, senior Hallie Wilson was simply unstoppable at the plate, tying a program record for most home runs in a game with 3 on the day as part of an 8-RBI effort. Mercado and Goodarce also went deep in the game to add 4 more RBI apiece. For the second time in three games, Arizona would score in every inning, as Stanford position players were left powerless in the circle.
In particular, in the bottom of the second, Arizona dropped an 11-spot on 9 hits, with a pair of Wilson’s 3 homers largely bookending the frame. Five of the Cats’ 9 hits in the forgettable inning went for extra bases, as the Cardinal simply could not stop the bleeding. By the time Arizona designated player Mandie Perez grounded out to end the inning, the contest was already well in hand.
Still, the Cardinal did not leave Tucson without positives in the game. The team did not go down without a fight, as it put up 4 runs in the bottom of the third and another in the fifth. Three players on the team hit homers: Kayla Bonstrom, Jessica Plaza, and Lauren Wegner. Wegner’s homer constituted her first career home run. In addition, Plaza and Tylyn Wells both hit doubles. Regardless, in the end, the Cardinal could not produce enough runs to up the scoreboard.
“It was great seeing Wegner get her first career home run, Bessie light it up offensively and defensively, and Plaza getting hot at the plate again,” Stanford head coach Rachel Hanson told GoStanford.com.
Despite the positive contributors for the Card, Arizona’s offense would continue to pile on the runs, with the Cats adding 7 more runs over the final two innings to finish off the rout.
Stanford softball will return to the Farm for its final home series of the year against Arizona State this weekend.
Elizabeth Trinh contributed additional reporting to this piece.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.