Softball bounces back in WCWS game two

Softball bounces back in WCWS game two

After dropping the College World Series opener to No. 1 Texas (54-8, 23-4 Big 12), No. 8 Stanford (49-16, 17-7 Pac-12) bounced back in emphatic fashion beating No. 5 Oklahoma State (49-12, 21-6 Big 12) 8-0.

The team showcased a strong and balanced offense with 11 hits, two home runs and six different players scoring. The Cardinal scored in five straight innings for the first time this season. In the top of the second, it took two swings for freshman first-baseman Ava Gall to blast a home run that opened the score. “It was a changeup that she [OSU’s pitcher] just hung and my eyes got big and I went for it,” Gall said.

That’s all Stanford needed to swing freely and break the game wide open. In the third inning, freshman third-baseman Jade Berry doubled, plating senior catcher Aly Kaneshiro and junior left-fielder Dani Hayes. Right-fielder Kaitlyn Lim homered in the fourth and an inning later the Cardinal extended the lead with Kaneshiro and sophomore shortstop River Mahler scoring to put Stanford up 6-0. 

In the bottom of the fifth inning, an extraordinary catch by sophomore center-fielder Emily Jones denied the Cowgirls a home run.

Finally, in the top of the sixth, a pair of runs by graduate designated player Caelan Koch and Berry put Stanford in position to win on the 8-0 run-rule. In the bottom of the inning, sophomore pitcher NiJaree Canady finished the job. 

“NiJa is just a stud and so playing behind her is so easy, so fun because she motivates us because she is so good and just seeing her lead our team in the circle is pretty amazing,” Berry said about Canady’s performance.

The Softball Collegiate Player of the Year put on another clinic with just three hits, three walks and no runs.

Next up, Stanford will face UCLA (43-11, 17-4 Pac-12) looking to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins. The elimination game will be televised on ESPN2 at 4:00 pm PT and the winner will take on Texas for a spot in the final.

For the Cardinal, playing in elimination games is familiar territory. They have won all four matches with their back against the wall this postseason, outscoring their opponents 23-2.

“When you go through these things and you gain the confidence from these things,” said head coach Jessica Allister. “You are a different team when you come out on the other side. So, it’s great to be able to perform in those situations. It’s great for that belief to continue to grow.”

A key factor to escape elimination again will be Canady’s performance. Despite being very active in the postseason, she has two days to rest before facing the Bruins.

“NiJa is tired. She’s thrown a lot, and we’ve asked her to do a lot over the last couple of weeks,” Allister said. “We’ve had conversations with her. I’m being completely transparent this morning: Are you good to go? We’ve asked a lot of you. She said, ‘Yeah coach, I want the ball.’ I think that speaks to her as a competitor.”

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