By David Cohn
Stanford softball (16-32, 1-17 Pac-12) begins its final home series of 2015 on Friday, as the Cardinal welcome No. 23 Arizona State (30-18, 8-9 Pac-12) to the Farm. The Sun Devils are coming off a disappointing home series loss to the surging Utah Utes and will have work to do if they want to get back in contention for hosting a regional in the NCAA tournament.
The Sun Devils have had a middle-of-the-pack offense by the extremely high standards of the Pac-12 conference, which has seen an explosion in scoring and batting averages in recent years. Arizona State ranks sixth in team batting average and team on-base percentage, while ranking fifth in runs scored.
ASU’s offense has been led by senior Amber Freeman, who leads her team in batting average (.432) and slugging percentage (.811) and is tied for the team lead in home runs. Fellow senior Haley Steele has also had a standout campaign for the Sun Devils, notching a .319 batting average and a .581 slugging percentage to go along with a team-leading 55 RBIs.
Arizona State has had problems in the circle this year, and given that Stanford will continue to have to use position players to hold its pitching together, this weekend’s series will likely feature a lot of offense. Freshman Breanna Macha has been the best pitcher this year for the young and inexperienced Sun Devil rotation, which lost all-time great Dallas Escobedo, as well as 2014 No. 2 starter Mackenzie Popescue, to graduation after last season.
Stanford will counter with an offense led by junior Kayla Bonstrom and senior Erin Ashby. Bonstrom leads Stanford in most offensive categories, which includes batting average (.432), home runs (11) and slugging percentage (.784). Ashby is hitting .314 with 36 RBI and 11 extra base hits.
Stanford and Arizona State will meet in game one of a three game set on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.
Contact David Cohn at dmcohn ‘at’ stanford.edu.