By Inyoung Choi
Stanford softball finished its final home invitational with walk-off wins in all five games this weekend, matching the longest run of run-rule victories set in 2008. The Cardinal began with a clean 8-0 win against the University of Pacific, followed by 9-1 and 8-0 routs of Saint Francis University (SFU) and 13-3 and 9-1 triumphs over Rhode Island to finish the invitational.
“I thought we got some good offensive performances up and down the lineup,” head coach Jessica Allister said.
The team’s senior leadership was pivotal to the success, especially in the batter’s box.
Senior Teaghan Cowles started off the weekend by setting a new program record when she hit her 19th career triple in Friday’s game against Pacific. Previously, she was tied with Ashley Hansen ’12 at 18.
This season, Cowles has demonstrated her capacity as a senior impact player. Cowles ended last year with a batting average of .338, which is the eighth-best record in program history. She currently has an improved batting average of .397, second only to senior Hannah Howell’s impressive .444.
The numbers may be premature, given that conference play has yet to begin, but Cowles’ offensive plays attest to her potential for her final season.
On Friday’s game against Pacific, Cowles settled for a 1-for-3 effort at bat, the lone hit being her record-breaking triple, but managed two runs and three RBIs.
In the first of two games against Saint Francis, Cowles was 1-for-3 but secured a run for the Cardinal on a hit from sophomore Emily Schultz. In the second game, Cowles hit 2-for-3, including a single at the bottom of fifth to push sophomore Emily Young home.
In the first of two games against Rhode Island, Cowles went a perfect 2-for-2 with a single-double pair. She also secured two runs in the first two innings. Her second game against the Rams mirrored her first: Cowles went 2-for-3 with another single-double pair and scored two runs for the Cardinal in the first two innings as well.
“I think this tournament show that we’re really good offensive team…as well as defensively,” Cowles said following the dominant performances by Stanford throughout the weekend.
Senior Montana Dixon stunned audiences with two homers over the three-day invitational. In the first game against SFU, Dixon drilled a round-tripper at the bottom of second and followed up with another in the bottom of third in Sunday’s game against Rhode Island.
“I think that I’ve just been continuing to make adjustments and stay with it,” Dixon said of her weekend. “I allowed myself to trust what I have and know I can do it and just take off.”
“[Dixon’s] started to string together some good at bats; I think she really found that confidence,” Allister said.
Dixon finished the weekend with 1-for-2, 0-for-3, 1-for-2 and 1-for-2 efforts for the four games. In the final two games against the Rams, she scored three runs.
Howell also secured a collection of doubles at this invitational. In Saturday’s game against SFU, Howell’s double brought home both senior Kristina Inouye and Schultz. In similar fashion, a double from Howell later that day sent Schultz home in Stanford’s 13-3 win over Rhode Island.
“I think our team really turned the switch from last week,” Howell said. “I think we’re starting to really get into the flow pretty well.”
The senior leadership led the perfect weekend of play, but the younger players clearly contributed their part to the team’s success as well.
Freshman Kaitlyn Lim hit two home runs against Rhode Island, bouncing back from a weak start where she finished the first two games of the invitational without a hit.
Schultz ended the first game against Saint Francis with a perfect 2-for-2 showing in the batter’s box, where she used a triple to bring home sophomore Taylor Gindlesperger.
Gindlesperger started off the weekend with a strong 2-for-3 effort in both games and ended her final game against Rhode Island with a triple and two runs for the Cardinal.
The strong offensive play is nothing short of exciting for the Cardinal, which has typically relied on pitching in previous games of the season to add wins to its 18-3 record .
“I’m ready to win and just keep on with what we’re doing right now,” Dixon said.
The Cardinal heads to Tennessee this Friday for its final non-conference contest before launching its campaign in Pac-12 play.
“I think the whole team, we set ourselves up for a really good weekend in Tennessee,” Cowles said. “I’m excited to see how this preseason ends. I think it’s going to be really exciting.”
Stanford takes the first bat against Toledo on Friday, March 6 at 9:30 a.m. PT.
Contact Inyoung Choi at ichoi ‘at’ stanford.edu.