Riding high after a dominant weekend at home against the Washington Huskies, No. 10 Stanford (37-14, 18-9 Pac-12) will travel to Washington State (24-26, 10-17) for last weekend of regular season play. Senior staff writer Olivia Hummer and editors Lorenzo Rosas and Laura Anderson discuss how the Cardinal can ensure a winning weekend against a lesser opponent and the future of the team in years to come.
The Cardinal are coming off a three-game sweep of Washington over the weekend and have won 18 of their last 20 games. While the team as a whole has been successful this season, who are the players most likely to provide a spark for Stanford on its final road trip against Washington State and in the NCAA regionals?
Olivia Hummer (OH): One of the biggest assets for this Stanford squad has been its depth. Nearly every member has the ability to step up and make a big contribution in a big spot. That being said, it’s worth keeping an eye on the top of the order where Matt Winaker, Nico Hoerner and Quinn Brodey have been putting up strong showings nearly every game. But, again, you can discount anyone on this team. Junior Jesse Kuet – who stepped up off the bench to fill in for injured third baseman Mikey Diekroeger – went 10-for-18 (.556) this week with six RBI and was named Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week. It’s a strong lineup from top to bottom and anyone on this Cardinal team can start a rally.
Lorenzo Rosas (LR): What has been the most incredible aspect of the Cardinal’s successful season thus far – in which Stanford has guaranteed its best finish since the Pac-12 expansion – is the quality on the mound from Stanford’s pitching staff both from a quartet of left-handed starters and locked-in relievers that effectively close the door on opponents.
Left handed pitchers freshman Erik Miller, sophomore Kris Bubic, junior Andrew Summerville and senior Chris Castellanos comprise four of the five starters for the Cardinal this season as Stanford has started a left-hander in 42 consecutive games and all but two of its 45 games on the season. In relief, Stanford is an undefeated 26-0 when leading after six innings in addition to going 9-2 during one-run games this campaign.
The combination of the two have propelled Stanford to 24th-best in the nation on the mound by Earned Run Average and continue to be a major reason behind the Cardinal’s success thus far. If the pitching staff continues to throw lights out against opponents, I can’t imagine a mediocre Washington State lineup (seventh in the Pac-12 with a .271 team batting average) challenging the high-flying Cardinal.
Laura Anderson (LA): I agree with Olivia that the Cardinal have benefitted throughout the season from their depth on offense. When every part of the order can contribute, Stanford can start long rallies and come back from deficits like on Sunday against Washington. Brandon Wulff and Jesse Kuet are holding career-high hit streaks heading into this weekend, and Daniel Bakst has been really impressive in his freshman season.
Although the offense has impressed, the pitching has perhaps been even more clutch this year. If the team can get a lead early in the game, Colton Hock can shut any opponent down. That the Cardinal closer can be lights out game after game and power through long saves like the eight-out save on Saturday gives the team an edge heading into its final series.
This weekend against the Washington State Cougars is the final regular season series for the Stanford seniors and head coach Mark Marquess. Marquess has spent 41 years at the helm, shaping the program for nearly half a century. What will be the key factors for the baseball program to continue building on Marquess’ legacy?
OH: It’s tough to imagine Stanford baseball without Nine at the helm. That being said, he’s set this team up for success in the future. It’s stocked with young talent on both sides of the ball, with sophomore pitching stars Kris Bubic and Tristan Beck (last season’s opening day starter who was sidelined with a back injury this year) and offensive performers like freshman Daniel Bakst and sophomores Hoerner and Wulff, all of whom have already made major marks on the season.