Offense Keeps Rolling, Stanford Heads To Championship Sunday
May 16, 2009
Stanford, Calif. - With junior Alissa Haber and freshman Ashley Hansen once again leading the way, the Stanford softball team (46-9) continued to roll today. The Cardinal run-ruled Nevada (40-18), 9-1 in five innings, and advances to play for its sixth regional title tomorrow.
Senior pitcher Missy Penna threw a two-hitter, with a solo home run by Jessica Haight the only thing preventing a shutout. She walked two and struck out five in the game and improves to 33-6.
Nevada starter Katie Holverson (28-10) took the loss after allowing six runs in 3.2 innings of work.
Stanford's offense was fueled by Haber and Hansen for the second straight day. Both players were 3-for-4, and both recorded their 23rd double of the season to tie Sarah Beeson's school record. Haber had four RBI, while Hansen added two.
Nevada threatened first, using Penna's only two walks of the game to get two on with nobody out in the first inning. Penna struck out the Wolfpack clean-up hitter, then forced a ground ball to get out of the jam, then was two hits short of perfect the rest of the way.
After a slow start, the bottom of the Stanford order started a rally that would ignite the offense. Maya Burns led off the third inning with a single through the left side, and with two outs, Haber pushed her forward with a single. Hansen then stepped up and bashed a double to center field. The record-tying double scored both Burns and Haber, giving Stanford a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Stanford exploded again, this time batting through the order, scoring four runs and forcing Nevada to put in relief pitcher Mallary Darby. Melisa Koutz started the rally with a one-out walk, advanced on a ground out and scored on Burns' double. Burns advanced on an ensuring Nevada error and Jenna Becerra stole second to put two in scoring position for Hassman. The freshman grounded a ball to third base and reached when the Wolfpack tried to get Becerra at third base. Burns scored on the play, and after another Cardinal stolen base, two were in scoring position for Haber. Haber came through with a single up the middle, pushing the lead to 6-0.
Haight responded with her solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, but that would be the only damage Nevada could manage. Stanford surged into run-rule territory in the fifth, and held on for the win.
Stanford's fifth-inning rally came on three hits, including Haber's record-tying double. For the second time, Koutz walked to start the rally. The sophomore advanced on a single by Rosey Neill and scored on a two-out single by Hassman. Hassman picked up her second stolen base of the game, and later scored on Haber's double.
Stanford will advance to play the team that emerges from today's two elimination games. Stanford must take just one of two tomorrow to claim its sixth regional title. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and Smith Family Stadium.