By Jeremy Rubin
“We have a lot of different ways we can win,” said head coach Jessica Allister of Stanford softball’s opening-weekend performance.
Under Allister’s direction, the Cardinal (5-1, 0-0 Pac-12) finished the GCU Kickoff Tournament in Phoenix, AZ with a 5-1 record. Wins came in a variety of ways — from a walk-off to multiple shutouts — highlighting the versatility of the team.
After a 3-0 victory against Grand Canyon University in the season opener, the Cardinal swept their Friday doubleheader, which included a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over New Mexico and a second 3-0 shutout against GCU.
After giving up five runs in the first two innings against the Lobos, Stanford settled down in the circle and on the field. Sophomore pitcher Molly Millar threw 4.2 shutout innings in relief.
The Cardinal stormed back from the 5-0 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, capped off by a walk-off, two-out, two-run single by freshman Tatum Boyd.
Boyd continued her scorching hot start to the season by starting the game in the circle against GCU. In just 70 pitches she threw a complete game, three-hit shutout. Although unable to break the game open, Stanford struck out just once in the contest and was able to put the bat on the ball and challenge the opposing defense to make plays. The Cardinal finished with 11 hits, including three apiece from seniors Teaghan Cowles and Kristina Inouye, to plate three runs.
After two hard-fought victories, the Cardinal had a quick turnaround before a Saturday morning game against New Mexico. This time the Lobos, backed by a complete-game effort by pitcher Brianna Sanchez, subdued Stanford’s bats. Junior pitcher Maddy Dwyer, winner of the weekend opener against GCU, took the tough-luck loss in the effort, allowing two runs in 5.2 innings.
The third innings proved to be the difference in the two contests against Weber State. Stanford plated seven and nine runs, respectively, en route to 9-2 and 12-3 victories to finish off the tournament. Boyd again was immaculate, pitching a combined 6.1 innings of shutout softball in the wins. Freshmen pitchers Gabi Peters and Alana Vawter, along with senior pitcher Kiana Pancino, also saw time in the circle. The offense came alive with 24 hits, including home runs by Vawter and freshman Sydney Steele.
“We just had to play the next game,” Allister said with regard to the team’s ability to put the New Mexico loss behind them. “Offensively, we had a better game plan, we had more competitive at-bats.”
The tournament showcased a glimpse of the Cardinal pitching staff this season. Seven players saw time in the circle, combining to allow just 13 runs in six games.
“Depth for our staff is going to be a strength,” Allister said. “Boyd had a great weekend. Dwyer gave us some good innings. Kiana finished down a couple games which is her role, and she does a great job in that role.”
“It’s going to take everybody, and it’s good to get everybody on the mound,” she added.
Softball will now return to the Farm for a doubleheader against Seattle on Thursday. Despite there being room for improvement — specifically in consistency on the offensive end — the team finished the four days with five tallies in the win column.
“We’ve got depth on the mound, [and] we’re able to play a lot of different people in different positions and put together different offensive lineups,”Allister said. “I think it’s exciting that it’s not just one or two people we’re relying on. On any given night, on any given day, we have a good chance.”
Contact Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.