On its final trip away from Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium, Stanford softball (13-29, 0-18 Pac-12) will be looking for its first conference win as it heads to Arizona State (27-22, 3-15) this Friday through Sunday.
The Cardinal are coming off a tough series against their rival, California, in which the team was swept by the Bears and extended its losing streak. Despite the final results, however, Stanford did have a few golden opportunities to push its Pac-12 wins count into positive territory. The Cardinal held Cal to just one run in the middle game of their series and were tied going into the last inning in their final outing, but, in both cases, the team couldn’t quite find the inspiration it needed to complete the upset.
Still, Stanford will hope to focus on these stretches of strong play as it prepares to face off against another one of the conference’s weaker teams. The Sun Devils are on a 12-game losing streak and have not won a home game since they faced Texas Tech on March 26. Arizona State has struggled to find consistent pitching in its recent games, and the Cardinal will hope to exploit this weakness to help get their bats back on track.
Stanford’s own pitching has seen its ups and downs as well, with the team’s two starters seemingly alternating between in-form stretches and difficult runs of play. Sophomore Hayley Snyder appears to have the hottest hand right now after allowing just five hits in the team’s one-run game against Cal, although she failed to build on this result in the series finale. Freshman Carolyn Lee has also seen stretches of excellence, though recently more of her efforts have fallen short.
The team’s pitching staff has generally received little help from its bats, part of the reason for the Cardinal’s slide. Stanford did receive some good news against Cal in the reemergence of senior utility Kayla Bonstrom, who was one of the team’s best hitters before she went silent in Pac-12 play, but it will need a more consistent effort across the board if it wishes to steal one against Arizona State.
Ultimately, the weekend’s results will likely come down to which team wants it more. Stanford has never had a winless season in conference since joining the Pac-12 and will hope to end its losing streak to avoid going down that road.
The Cardinal will open their series against the Sun Devils at 7 p.m. Friday on Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Andrew Mather at [email protected]