Fresh off of a second consecutive tournament completed with a winning record, Stanford softball (6-2, 0-0 PAC-12) heads to Baton Rouge, LA, for five games in the LSU Invitational from Thursday to Sunday, featuring host No. 7 LSU (9-2, 0-0 SEC). The Cardinal will also play two games against Cal State Northridge (CSUN) and one game apiece against Michigan and Memphis. The opener against LSU will mark the first time this season Stanford has faced a ranked opponent.
Stanford currently sits sixth in the Pac-12 behind UCLA, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona State and Oregon. These next five games will give the Cardinal a golden opportunity to move up in the rankings while potentially picking up a win against a ranked opponent.
The stiffest competition Stanford will face in this set of games will undoubtedly come from LSU. The Tigers play in a conference in which 10 of 13 teams rank somewhere in the nation’s top 25. Still, led by senior right-handed pitcher Carolyn Lee, who currently sits fourth in the Pac-12 in earned runs allowed with a 0.79 ERA, Stanford will try to reduce the Tigers to a version of themselves that resembles a certain bouncy friend of Winnie the Pooh.
In order to match up against LSU and to win a majority of their games, the Cardinal should continue their hitting in critical situations such as two-out or bases-loaded at bats. To this point, Stanford has accumulated 19 RBIs in two-out scenarios while batting five-for-six with the bases loaded with two doubles, a triple and a home run. It also helps the Cardinal offense that the leadoff hitter reaches 35 percent of the time (18-for-51) and that they have scored first in six of eight games thus far.
Though conference play will ultimately determine where Stanford places in the Pac-12, it doesn’t hurt to rack up as many wins as possible in these non-conference tournaments to provide a buffer above teams with fewer out-of-conference records. Also, because the Cardinal’s end goal will be to qualify for and make a long run in the NCAA tournament, play against ranked opponents who will likely be in the tournament is invaluable.
Stanford gets its first crack at a potential NCAA tournament opponent on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m PST.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu.