On Thursday at home, Stanford (6-3) has the opportunity to take its season to another level when the Cardinal play host to a stacked and second-ranked team in the nation, the Vanderbilt Commodores (8-0).
Even though the odds are against them, the Cardinal have been adept at defying popular opinion thought this entire season. After many wrote the Cardinal off during the preseason, an excellently talented freshman core mixed with some key veteran performances have brought the Cardinal a surprising amount of success early this season.
The Cardinal have found success both at home and away. In its first trip outside the state this season to play No. 23 Texas, Stanford was able to win two games in front of a tough crowd, beating the Longhorns by double digits in one of them.
The Cardinal, however, have a tall task ahead of them in the Commodores. For the past couple years, Vanderbilt has consistently been a top-tier team and powerhouse program. The Commodores’ leadoff batter, sophomore outfielder Jeren Kendall, leads the team with a .531 batting average.
On defense, the Commodore pitchers are playing at another level. Their main starter, junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Sheffield, is something to behold when he is on the mound. The right hander owns a .75 ERA through two wins, and more often than not he looks impossible to hit against.
The Cardinal’s work is definitely cut out for them, and their pitching will have to keep performing at a high level to give the team a chance. Freshman right-handed pitcher Tristan Beck will be tested early in his career once again, coming into the series sporting a 2.89 ERA. Beck performed exceptionally well against Cal State Fullerton after earning the opening day start, but struggled against the Longhorns in a sweltering Texas environment.
Junior right-handed pitcher Brett Hanewich will also most likely see a start on the mound for the Cardinal this weekend once again. The junior, building on his decent success from last season, has earned a .68 ERA this season and has excelled for the Cardinal.
“We’re throwing a lot more strikes,” head coach Mark Marquess commented when asked about the increase in pitching talent this season. “The pitching has really been outstanding, and really our defense has been outstanding.”
Despite the last-minute scheduling change that will require the series to start a day ahead of time, if the Cardinal can prove their own through this three-game series — even by snatching one win from the undefeated Commodores — Stanford can prove that their fiery season start isn’t just a fluke.
The series will start Thursday at 3 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. matchups on Saturday and Sunday at Sunken Diamond.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.