By Andrew Tan
From Friday to Sunday, Stanford softball (4-1, 0-0 PAC-12) compiled a 4-1 record at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, winning its first four games and getting narrowly edged out in its final contest. The weekend slate featured both high-powered offensive performances and stellar pitching from the Cardinal as Stanford got off to a strong start in regular season action.
Opening day started with a bang as Stanford blew out both of its opponents, beating Bradley 12-5 and Kansas 12-3 on run-rule. Against Bradley, the Cardinal headed into the top of the seventh tied 4-4 before busting it open with eight in the frame including senior Whitney Burks’ second home run on the day. Burks, who led the Cardinal in homers last season with five, led off the second with a blast to straight-away centerfield then capped off Stanford’s massive seventh inning with a three-run moonshot to left.
Besides Burks, five other players in the Stanford lineup had multi-hit games to contribute to the Cardinal’s 12 runs on 13 hits. Juniors Montana Dixon, Kristina Inouye and Alyssa Horeczko each had multiple RBIs, combining with Burks to account for all of the Cardinal runs.
Senior Carolyn Lee, who started the game for Stanford, retired the first nine batters she faced, before getting into trouble in the fourth and allowing Bradley, with the help of a couple errors, to tie the game at 4-4. The Cardinal would get all the runs they needed in the seventh however, putting the game to bed and giving junior Kiana Pacino, who took over for Lee in the sixth, the victory.
The day’s later game produced another blowout, but in a different fashion. The game was cut short after 4.5 innings on run-rule as the Cardinal exploded for 12 runs in just four offensive frames, powered by six from Inouye. After batting in six on a 3-for-3 line with a double, Inouye took her RBI total in the young season to nine. Junior Teaghan Cowles hit her first career home run in the game and sophomore right-hander Maddy Dwyer picked up the win. Stanford’s 12-3 drubbing of Kansas capped a successful opening day both of the tournament and season for the Cardinal.
Moving into day two with confidence and a 2-0 record, Stanford squared off against Western Michigan and Seattle University, besting both by scores of 5-1 and 6-4. The morning game was highlighted by the lights-out pitching performance of Lee and the hitting outburst of freshman Emily Klingaman. The right-handed ace Lee spun a complete game and allowed just one run on five hits, needing only 64 pitches through seven innings. On the other side of the ball, Klingaman accounted for nearly the entire Cardinal offense, going 2-for-2 with a triple, home run and four RBI. The three-run bomb was her first career homer for Stanford and gave the Cardinal a four-run lead that they would not relinquish.
An afternoon matchup against Seattle provided Stanford with its first save opportunity as the team had beaten its past three opponents by such wide margins. The Cardinal finished the day with a 6-4 victory over Seattle that featured an inside-the-park grand slam and a home run robbery. In the bottom of the third, freshman Emily Young came up to the plate with the bases juiced and slapped a gapper into left-centerfield before legging out a four-run homer. Dwyer would pick up her second win of the classic, allowing just one run on four hits before getting into trouble in the seventh. Pacino came in to close the door, allowing two inherited runners to score but ultimately getting the job done.
Perhaps the biggest momentum shift of the game, besides Young’s grand slam, came in the top of the sixth when Seattle’s Madison Cathcart sent a deep fly ball to the warning track before Cowles tracked the ball down and crashed into the fence; the catch preserved a three-run lead and turned out to be the difference in a two-run win.
On the final day of Kajikawa play, Stanford suffered its first defeat 2-1 to Weber State. Lee started her third game in as many days and was dealing. She allowed only two runs on five hits in 7.1 innings, but the Cardinal offense proved unable to muster up enough run support to get Lee the win. Instead, Stanford was stifled by eight innings of three-hit one-run ball from Tatiana Su’esu’e. Though the loss put a damper on the trip to Arizona, Stanford has some strong performances to build on going into the rest of the season.
Stanford now returns home to host Pacific, Iowa State, Portland State and Colorado State in the DeMarini Invitational from Thursday through Sunday.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu.