By Sally Egan
It was a bittersweet weekend for the Cardinal softball team (32-15, 8-10 Pac-12) in their last home series of the season. Stanford upset No. 2 UCLA (45-3, 19-2 Pac-12) on Friday but then fell to the Bruins on Saturday and Sunday. While losing the series may have been disappointing, few in the nation were expecting the Cardinal to win any of the three games. Friday night’s victory could prove important for postseason seedings.
In the first game of her career home finale, senior Carolyn Lee pitched her sixth complete game of the season in a masterful fashion, allowing just one run and five hits over seven innings. This is especially impressive considering the Bruins had the third best batting average in the nation at .352 going into the game. The Bruins had several opportunities to score, leaving a total of seven runners on base over the course of the game, but Stanford’s defense came in clutch every time.
Offensively, Stanford played much better than UCLA, bringing in seven hits over the course of the game. Despite this strong offensive showing, only one of these hits brought in runs. In the bottom of the second, freshman Emily Schultz blasted a homer, bringing in fellow freshman Emily Young. Both freshmen had strong games, each finishing with two hits. Freshmen Taylor Gindlesperger and Emily Klingaman also each had hits, showing off the strength of this freshman class. At the end of the day, Stanford won 2-1.
UCLA came into the next game much more wary of the up and coming Cardinal. All-American pitcher Rachel Garcia started for the Bruins, and she certainly showed why she had earned this distinction. Through the first three innings, Garcia didn’t allow any hits while the Bruins offensive took advantage of the fact that Stanford freshman pitcher Molly Millar was making her first career start. The Bruins brought in four runs and seven hits through the first four innings, showing why they’re one of the top hitting teams in the country.
When UCLA made a pitching switch in the bottom of the fourth, though, Stanford capitalized as junior Hannah Howell doubled and was brought home on a two-run homer by junior Montana Dixon. Unfortunately, the sixth inning proved to be the downfall for Stanford, as UCLA brought in three runs on four hits and an error. While the Cardinal responded well, scoring two off a two-run RBI by senior Whitney Burks, they didn’t manage to score any more, resulting in a final score of 7-4 with UCLA on top.
Sunday’s game was full of tension and excitement for both teams. UCLA was determined to show they were still the powerhouse the nation had thought they were before Stanford’s victory on Friday. Stanford was determined to get one more home win for the seniors.
It was UCLA that started off strong though, earning two runs in the top of the first off of three hits and an error. While junior Teaghan Cowles started the bottom of the first with a nice single to left field, the Cardinal was unable to bring her home. Stanford’s defense was strong the next two innings, as the wind made all of the hits curve in crazy ways. In the top of the third, Stanford retired two UCLA batters by catching foul balls, in part due to this wind.
Unfortunately, UCLA had home runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, create a tough hole for the Cardinal to dig out of. The effort was clearly there throughout the entire game, though, including an impressive diving catch of a foul ball by Dixon in the top of the sixth. Stanford’s bats just weren’t as effective as UCLA’s in this game, and they fell 4-0 to lose the series.
Stanford has one more regular season series at No. 3 Washington (42-7, 17-4 Pac-12) this weekend before the NCAA Championship bracket is announced on May 12.
Contact Sally Egan at egansj18 ‘at’ stanford.edu.