Stanford softball (7-3) brings a two-game winning streak into the Mary Nutter Classic today in Cathedral City California. The team first faces Bethune-Cookman, followed by Florida State, the No. 1 team in the country in an evening doubleheader. The competition, which brings top softball programs from around the country together, will be played out in quick succession, with Stanford playing five games in just three days.
For Stanford, the difference in quality between the teams it faces will be immense. Bethune-Cookman brings a 1-9 record into the contest, having lost seven straight games. Florida State, meanwhile, remains undefeated through 10 games and is the undisputed No. 1 team in the country, receiving 18 first-place votes – more than every other program combined. Not only will Stanford’s evening opponents pose threats hitting, but the Seminoles are also remarkable in the field and pitching. In nine of its 10 games this season, Florida State has held its opponents to one run or fewer.
Stanford, looking to gain credibility after the ghosts of past seasons, has looked more sound this season. Although conference play does not commence for over a month, Stanford has notched seven wins out of 10 games, including offensive explosions against UCSB where the team claimed a 16-2 win and an 8-1 victory against Pacific.
Freshman Cardinal pitcher Nikki Bauer will be critical in the games to come this weekend. She made two starts this past week, recording a slim 0.88 earned run average (ERA) and allowing just one earned run in eight innings of pitching. Sophomore Carolyn Lee should also provide reliable pitching, after her ERA dropped to just 1.75 in the past three games.
Offensively, Stanford hopes to continue the onslaught with freshman utility Teaghan Cowles and senior Kylie Sorenson leading the way. The two players combined for 11 RBIs this past week while both batting above .500 .
This coming stretch will be Stanford’s longest away streak of the season, with back-to-back tournaments on the road. After the doubleheader Thursday, the Cardinal will face St. John’s Friday afternoon, followed by a Saturday evening doubleheader against San Diego State and Purdue. The Mary Nutter Classic could provide Stanford with key non-conference win opportunities. With a staggering six other Pac-12 teams polled in the Top 25 in the nation, the games to come will be critical in laying the foundation for success when conference play commences later in March. The action gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, and will continue through Saturday night.
Contact Michael Spelfogel at mspel ‘at’ stanford.edu.