Walk-Off Homer Lifts Cal Over Stanford

April 11, 2009

Berkeley, Calif. - After falling behind 6-0, the Stanford softball team exploded offensively to made a valiant seventh-inning comeback. With the momentum of Stanford's side however, Cal shortstop Taylor Kelly ripped a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh, handing Stanford its second straight loss.

With the 8-6 decision, Stanford fell to 35-4, with a 6-3 mark in Pac-10 play. Cal (28-12, 5-4 Pac-10) took the series from the Cardinal for the second time in three years.

Stanford came up with nine hits, three of which 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, and senior Maddy Coon singled in the seventh to round out the Stanford hits.

Cal got hits from seven different players, five of which registered multiple hits. Pitcher Valerie Arioto, left fielder Jamia Reid and second baseman Shannon Thomas all posted three-hit games.

The 15 Bear hits were the most against the Cardinal since March 3, 2007, when Northwestern posted 17. Cal was the first team this season to put double-digit hits on Stanford. Its eight runs were a 2009 best against the second-ranked Cardinal.

Senior Missy Penna started the game for the Cardinal, but was replaced by sophomore Ashley Chinn after 1.1 innings. Chinn threw 4.2 innings, gave up 11 of the hits and took her first loss of the year (10-1) after allowing the game-winning home run in the seventh.

Arioto 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, center fielder Frani Echavarria reached on an infield single and scored on Arioto's second RBI 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 went to work to prevent the shutout. The junior drove a home run over the left field fence in the top of the fifth to make it 6-1.

Stanford put two runners on in the sixth, but couldn't cut into the deficit. In their half of the sixth, 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 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 into 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.

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