April 11, 2009
Berkeley, Calif. -
After falling behind 6-0 early, the Stanford softball team exploded offensively this afternoon to make a valiant seventh-inning comeback. Yet, after the Cardinal took the momentum and battled back to tie, Cal shortstop Taylor Kelly sent a dagger to center field, hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh.
With the 8-6 loss, Stanford fell to 35-4 and 6-3 in Pac-10 play. The loss marked the first time this season that the Cardinal has suffered back-to-back setbacks and gave Cal (28-12, 5-4 Pac-10) the series for the first time in two years.
The loss came despite nine hits and six runs, both season highs against teams ranked in the top-20. Three of the nine hits were off the bat of rookie shortstop Ashley Hansen. Freshman Maya Burns was 2-for-3 with her second double in two days, while sophomore Melisa Koutz posted her second consecutive two-hit game. Junior Alissa Haber hit her sixth home run of the year to start the Cardinal scoring in the fifth, and senior Maddy Coon singled in the seventh to round out the Stanford offense. Coon scored her 136th career run in the seventh as well, joining Jessica Mendoza '02, Robin Walker '02, Lauren Lappin '06 and Catalina Morris '06 as the program's five top scorers of all-time.
Stanford left 10 runners on base, including five in scoring position. Cal hardly did better, stranding eight runners with three in scoring position.
Cal got hits from seven different players, with five registering multiple hits. Pitcher Valerie Arioto, left fielder Jamia Reid and second baseman Shannon Thomas all posted three-hit games. Center fielder Frani Echavarria was 2-for-2, while Kelly was 2-for-4 with the game-winning home run.
The 15 Golden Bear hits were the most against the Cardinal since March 3, 2007, when Northwestern posted 17 against the team. Cal was the first team this year to put double-digit hits on Stanford and its eight runs were the most any 2009 opponent has managed as well.
Senior Missy Penna started the game in the circle for Stanford, but was replaced by sophomore Ashley Chinn after an inning and a third. Chinn threw 4.2 innings, gave up 11 hits and took her first loss of the year (10-1) after allowing the game-winning home run in the seventh.
Arioto threw for the Bears, went a complete seven, allowed nine hits and improved to 12-3. The sophomore was also 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored.
The Bears scored in each of the first four innings, racing out to a 6-0 lead before Stanford could get its first run on the board.
In the first inning, a leadoff walk by Arioto and a double by Reid put two in scoring position for Gina Leomiti. The senior drove a ball down the right field line to plate both runners.
In the second inning, Kelly led off with a single and later scored on the first of Arioto's two doubles.
Catcher Sanoe Kekahuna hit a leadoff home run to make it 4-0 in the bottom of the third.
In the fourth, Echavarria reached on an infield single and scored on Arioto's second double in as many at-bats. Arioto scored on an ensuing single by Reid to make it 6-0.
With the Cardinal down six runs, Haber hit a home run to ignite the offense and prevent the shutout. The junior drove a ball over the left field fence in the top of the fifth to make it 6-1.
Stanford put two runners on with nobody out in the sixth, but couldn't cut into the deficit. In their half of the frome, the Bears used three hits to load the bases with no outs, but Chinn forced three consecutive pop-ups to strand all three runners.
In the top of the seventh, Stanford finally began to connect, exploding for five runs to tie the game. Hansen beat out a single to shortstop to start the inning, and Shannon Koplitz walked to put a second runner on. A single through the left side by Coon loaded the bases with no outs. Rosey Neill then stepped to the plate and grounded a ball to shortstop. The throw to get Koplitz at third was off target, and Hansen raced in to score. With bases still loaded and nobody out, Koutz crushed a single to right field that scored both Koplitz and Coon. Autumn Albers came in to pinch run for Koutz and took second on a wild pitch. With two runners in scoring position, Burns cracked a deep sacrifice fly to left field to score Neill. After a ground out moved Albers to third, Sarah Hassman hit a ball to the right side that was bobbled by the Cal second baseman and sent Albers in to tie the game.
Having given up six unanswered runs, the Bears came through to win in the bottom of the seventh. Thomas singled to lead off the inning and Kelly belted a ball over the center field wall to win the game.
Stanford will play a midweek game against Santa Clara on Tuesday before resuming Pac-10 play in Arizona next week. First pitch between the Cardinal and Broncos is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.