By Sally Egan
This weekend softball (31-13, 7-8 Pac-12) will take on No. 2 UCLA (43-2, 17-1 Pac-12), arguably the Cardinal’s toughest opponent yet, in Stanford’s final regular season home series.
Despite starting the season strong, the Cardinal have since lost some momentum, losing last weekend in a home series against Arizona State (28-17, 8-10 Pac-12). Stanford began the season 30-7, their best start since 2010, and this season still should be considered extremely successful. Amazingly, their seven Pac-12 wins this season are more than the previous four seasons combined, an indication of the tremendous growth the team has gone through this year.
UCLA is a formidable opponent, but nevertheless there is reason to believe the Cardinal will find success this weekend. Last time the teams met, Stanford won in an upset — beating the Bruins 4-1 in Los Angeles. UCLA was ranked third at the time, and the game was the first time the Cardinal had beaten the Bruins since 2014.
The massive upset came with help from several players still on the team — including senior Carolyn Lee, sophomore Maddy Dwyer and juniors Teaghan Cowles, Hannah Howell and Kristina Inouye. Howell in particular had a fantastic game, going 3 for 4 with 1 RBI. Cowles and Inouye each went 1 for 3 and Inouye picked up 2 RBI. Dwyer pitched 3.2 scoreless innings and Lee did the rest.
If the Cardinal beat the Bruins this year, it would be considered much less of an upset. Stanford has already beaten both Oregon and Michigan, the only two teams UCLA has lost to, showing that a victory is certainly in sight.
The key for Stanford will be to keep the game close and not allow any big scoring innings for the Bruins. Last weekend against Arizona State, the Cardinal held the Sun Devils to a tight game for the majority of the time in each game of the series. However, in each game, Arizona State would have one big scoring inning that would prove to be too big of a hole for Stanford to get out of. If the Cardinal can keep the games against the Bruins close, they have proven able to pull out the close victory, as they have gone 12-3 in games decided by one run.
This season has already been a wildly successful one for the four Cardinal seniors: Lee, Whitney Burks, Molly Fowkes and Lauren Frost. Winning the series at home against the second ranked team in the country would make it even more memorable.
The first game begins at 5 p.m. PST tonight at Stanford, and the seniors will be recognized in Sunday’s game at noon.
This article has been corrected to reflect that Lauren Frost is a senior and Teagan Cowles is a junior. The Daily regrets this error.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.