By Jose Saldana
Stanford softball (10-7) finished 4-2 in the past six games starting with a double-header against Sacramento State on Thursday and then the Stanford Invitational starting on Friday.
The six games featured plenty of highs for the Cardinal. Stanford head coach Jessica Allister won her 300th career game as a head coach in dramatic fashion. Tied at 1-1 in the seventh, sophomore catcher Montana Dixon sent a single to left field to score freshman Carmina Nicolas for the walk-off win.
The pitching has elevated the Cardinal after starting the season 1-4. Freshman Maddy Dwyer and sophomore Kiana Pancino have emerged as a strong duo on the mound. Dwyer, who had a complete-game shutout in her first start, was sensational once again over the weekend. She allowed only four earned runs in 22.2 innings, and her ERA is a crisp 0.99.
Often relieving Dwyer, Pancino got the start in the second game against Sacramento State and in the first game against Santa Clara, both victories. She combined for five earned runs in 17 innings in four appearances over the weekend.
The offense, although not as prolific as in previous weeks, did enough to add Ws to their pitchers’ wins columns. Sophomore center fielder Alyssa Horeczko collected 10 hits in 20 at-bats and she scored five times in the six games.
Dixon, who often scores Horeczko, was brilliant outside of her walk-off single. She had seven RBI, including the game winner on Sunday afternoon.
She leads the team in home runs (3) and in RBI (20), and she is third on the team in batting average (.340).
The Cardinal got the action started with a split of the double-header against Sacramento State. In the early game, Dwyer pitched six innings and allowed one earned run, but her strong performance on the mound was for naught as the offense was baffled by Hornets pitcher Celina Matthias.
Stanford left nine runners on base as it lost 1-0.
The latter game went better for the Cardinal. The bats got going as Stanford put up five runs on six hits. Sophomore third baseman Teaghan Cowles had two hits and Dixon had two RBI.
With Dwyer exhausted from the first game, Pancino took the mound and pitched the entire game, allowing only one run to reach home plate. Her performance along with a more productive offense gave the Cardinal a 5-2 victory.
After the double-header, Stanford hosted their first home game on Friday against Santa Clara. Pancino again started and gave the Cardinal 6.1 innings, just a day after pitching 7 innings. She wasn’t as spotless, giving up three earned runs and walking six batters, but she was aided by the offense.
The Cardinal scored three runs on singles by Horeczko and sophomore shortstop Kristina Inouye. Then, they added two more in the fifth when senior first baseman Arden Pettit singled.
The 5-3 gave Pancino her fourth win of the season in five opportunities.
Cal Poly came to the Farm for a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back showdown. Dwyer got back on the mound for the first game, and this time she got run support, but she didn’t need much. Dwyer scattered five hits and shutout the Mustangs in 6.1 innings of work.
She was relieved by junior Carolyn Lee, who pitched 0.2 scoreless innings the previous day. Lee struggled, allowing three earned runs on three hits and two walks. However, she managed to strike out two batters to end the game.
The offense scored seven runs and Inouye, Horeczko and Dixon combined to hit 7-10 and score five runs, which helped the Cardinal win comfortably 7-3.
Dwyer was on the mound again for the Sunday game and she couldn’t get past the fifth inning, giving up four runs (one unearned).
Pancino took the rest of the game and completely blanked the Mustangs, allowing only two base runners in three innings. However, the damage was not enough for the team to overcome despite Horeczko’s best efforts (3-3, two runs) in the 4-2 loss.
Still at win 299, Coach Allister had one last chance to get her 300th win at home against Santa Clara. The Cardinal pitching did not disappoint her. After Pancino started and gave up a run in the first, Dwyer took over and shut down the Broncos for 6.1 innings. She struck out six batters and only allowed one hit.
Even with Dwyer’s efforts, the game was tied in the bottom of the seventh. With a runner on second base and two outs, Dixon hit a walk-off single to score the winning run and give Stanford a 4-2 home stand.
The Cardinal will travel to Fullerton, CA for the Judi Garman Classic, starting March 1 and ending March 3.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.