This Wednesday, the Stanford softball team (11-14, 0-3 Pac-12) will take a quick, one-game break from conference action to play a troubled Santa Clara Broncos side (5-28) which has lost 17 games in a row.
The Cardinal head to Santa Clara four days after falling flat in their first conference series on the road at fifth ranked Oregon (26-4, 6-0). Despite being three-games under .500 this season, the Cardinal have demonstrated better offensive efficiency than last season, in which the team dropped 16 of its final 17 games.
Senior utility Kayla Bonstrom has led the Cardinal in this offensive effort, owning a .329 batting average and scoring 18 runs on the season so far. In addition, junior infielder Kylie Sorenson has improved on her All-Pac 12 honorable mention sophomore season with a solid .317 average.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal, their defense has provided more than its own share of problems which have prevented the team from making progress. As a team, the Cardinal have committed 42 errors on the season, greatly exceeding the 29 accumulated against them by their opponents.
While the error count continually remains too high for comfort, a lack of consistently good pitching compounds the disappointing Stanford defensive efforts. Freshman right-handed pitcher Carolyn Lee looked to be part of the solution in this area, getting off to a fantastic 3-0 start in which she pitched a complete game to propel the Cardinal to a victory over then-No. 17 Missouri, but she has now trailed off and slipped to a 4.29 ERA and a 6-8 record on the year.
Lee’s struggles are just the tip of the iceberg that’s inhibiting Stanford success this season. Other than Lee, the Cardinal only have two active pitchers, both whom have underachieved in the team’s first 25 matchups. After a solid performance in the Mary Nutter Tournament earlier this season, sophomore right-handed pitcher Haley Snyder owns a meek 4.89 ERA and a 5-6 record on the season.
The Santa Clara Broncos, meanwhile, have had an even worse season and currently ride a 17-game losing streak. The Broncos have poorly defended their home turf, going 3-12 at home. Very little has gone right for Santa Clara on the season, and on both sides of the game, the Broncos have consistently seemed to struggle.
Senior infielder Cassandra Padilla currently leads the Broncos team with a .320 batting average and a .377 on-base percentage this season. Other than her efforts, however, Santa Clara’s bats have been as cold as ice, and the rest of the Bronco lineup owns less than a .250 batting average on the season.
Even though the Cardinal have struggled, the team should have a rare opportunity to be considered the favorite in this upcoming matchup. Stanford will hope to add to its win tally behind a solid performance from probable starter Lee. Barring a horrendous outing from the Cardinal batters, Stanford should find more opportunities for hits against a scrambling Santa Clara pitching rotation as well.
The first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Santa Clara.
Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.