By Andrew Tan
On Sunday, No. 24 Stanford softball (25-5, 4-1 PAC-12) secured a 2-1 series victory over rival Oregon (13-18, 1-8 PAC-12) with a 7-6 comeback win to cap a three-game set against the Ducks over the weekend.
The Cardinal set program records in the Friday opener after overcoming a four-run first inning deficit, ultimately winning by a final score of 8-6. In doing so, Stanford matched both its overall and Pac-12 win totals from last year, indicative of the drastic improvement the team has made in the short span of a year. Initial victory over Oregon coupled with two prior wins over Cal also gave Stanford its best start to Pac-12 play in program history.
At the outset of the opener it did not appear that Stanford would achieve these marks, as senior pitcher Carolyn Lee was ambushed in the top of the first by Oregon with a grand slam off the bat of Allee Bunker. The Stanford bats did not respond immediately and after two full innings the Ducks were flying high.
It was not until the third that the Card began to chip away at the lead with two runs in the third, one in the fourth and a five-run explosion in the fifth. Junior Teaghan Cowles accounted for the run in the fourth with her fifth home run on the season, a laser of a solo shot. Cowles finished 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI.
After Oregon cancelled out Cowles’ homer with a run of its own in the top of the fifth, Stanford seized control of the game by scoring five on three hits, highlighted by a two-run single from freshman Emily Klingaman, one of four Cardinal batters — the others being Cowles, junior Hannah Howell and freshman Emily Young — to record two hits on the day.
From there, Stanford did not look back, as junior Kiana Pancino took the ball from Lee with a two-run lead in the sixth and retired the next five hitters in order. Lee recorded the win and moved to 8-2 on the season. The win snapped a staggering 19-game losing streak against the Ducks
Saturday proved a road bump in the series for Stanford, as it dropped the second game 7-2 after falling into an early hole yet again. Sophomore Maddy Dwyer allowed five runs in the first inning and the Cardinal would never get close to erasing the deficit. The only bright spots on the day for the lackluster Card were another 3-for-4 day from Cowles, including an RBI double, and an RBI triple from freshman Emily Schultz, her first career three-bagger.
Stanford then entered the pivotal third game of the series with a lot on the line, as it sought to maintain a strong conference record and get a series win against a vulnerable Ducks team that has been uncharacteristically bad this year.
For the third time in as many games, Stanford pitching ceded multiple runs to Oregon in the first inning, digging itself another early hole. The Ducks scored twice in the first and three runs in the third before Stanford even got on the scoreboard. At this point, the Cardinal’s chances at victory appeared slim and even after scoring two in the bottom of the fourth, Stanford still trailed by three. However, once the Card started scoring, it couldn’t stop.
Young hit a two-run bomb in the fourth, three scored in the fifth and small ball, with a bunt from Klingaman, sacrifice fly from junior Kristina Inouye and Cowles coming home on a couple wild pitches, plated two more in the sixth, including the winning run. Pancino was credited with the win after tossing the final four innings and allowing only one run.
Stanford’s next games will be a doubleheader against Sacramento State starting on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu.