Stanford Softball: Year in Review
Back to the Postseason
Stanford softball was selected for the NCAA tournament for the 18th time in program history, earning the No. 2 seed in the Fayetteville Regional. The Cardinal was joined at the regional by host-Arkansas, South Dakota State and Manhattan – with Stanford finishing the tournament 2-2 after advancing to the regional title game for the first time since 2013.
The postseason appearance was the second-straight for the Cardinal, with the 2020 postseason being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stanford is now 44-40 all-time in the regional round, while head coach Jessica Allister has led the program to nine postseason appearances – spanning her time as a player, an assistant coach and a head coach.
A Delayed Start
The context around Stanford's highly successful season is what makes what the program has accomplished in 2021 all the more impressive. Due to restrictions from Santa Clara County, the Cardinal was not able to have its roster on campus for the fall quarter. Only graduate students were allowed on campus, and equipment could not be shared across more than two households.
Due to continuing county restriction at the turn of the new year, Stanford's first day of team practice was Feb. 4 – leaving a 15-day build-up to the season opener against San Jose State on Feb. 19. Players arrived on campus for the first time on Jan. 23, and then completed a 10-day quarantine period.
A Pair of Milestones for Allister
In her fourth season on The Farm, Allister achieved a pair of milestones this season. On March 27, Allister won her 100th game as the head coach at Stanford with an 8-0, run-rule victory over Utah, becoming only the second coach in program history to win 100 games (John Rittman). The Stanford alumna is 112- 77 at Stanford.
Allister also won her 400th game as a head coach, again with an 8-0, run-rule victory over No. 5 Washington, May 14. She is the fourth active Pac-12 coach to achieve 400 career wins, regardless of institution, with a 402-185 record. Her .686 winning percentage is 21st among active head coaches with at least 10 years of experience.
The Harder the Schedule, the Sweeter the Results
No schedule is easy when one resides in the Pac-12, and Stanford had one of the toughest closing stretches of the season. Over the final 25 games, Stanford played 20 games against Top 15 teams, 16 games against Top 10 teams, and its final eight games of the season were against Top 5 teams. To make matters more difficult, the conference moved to a format of four game series with doubleheaders on Saturday – only the first game of the doubleheader counted towards the conference standings.
Stanford was one of 19 teams in the country with 20-or-more victories against the top 100 in RPI.
Pac-12 Put on Watch
Despite the difficult schedule and the delayed start to team activities, Stanford won nine Pac-12 games – its most conference victories since the 2013 season (13-11). This is despite the series against California, the eighth-place team in the conference standings, being canceled due to COVID-19 developments within the California program. Stanford went 2-1 against the Bears in three nonconference games – we will let you draw whatever conclusion you can there.
Stanford won a game at No. 13/14 Arizona State (April 9), its first win in Tempe since 2011, and trailed the Sun Devils on run-differential by only four runs, 22-18. Two weeks later, the Cardinal picked up its first Top 10 victories on the road, and its first wins in Eugene since 2011, splitting the weekend series against No. 6/7 Oregon. Stanford closed the season by splitting the weekend series against No. 5 Washington, May 13-15.
Plenty of Honors for the Cardinal
Stanford collected six All-Pac-12 honors on the season, with five players landing on the all-conference teams. Alana Vawter led the Cardinal by landing on the first team and the all-freshmen team – becoming the first Stanford player to earn first-team honors since 2015. Teaghan Cowles and Emily Young earned the second All-Pac-12 honors of their career with both landing on the third team. Taylor Gindlesperger and Montana Dixon picked up their first all-conference honors, landing on the second team and all-defensive team, respectively.
Both Vawter and Gindlesperger were named to the NFCA All-West Region's first and third teams, respectively.