STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford kept pace with No. 1/2 Oregon for the third straight game Monday night but could not find the runs needed to pull the upset, falling to the Ducks 6-3.
The Cardinal (16-29, 1-14 Pac-12) pitching staff, which consists solely of position players due to injuries to starting pitchers, did well to keep Stanford within striking distance throughout the game. Kylie Sorenson (4-7) got the start in the circle and went 2.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks.
Sorenson was relieved by Erin Ashby who finished the game permitting two runs – one earned – on five hits and one walk.
“They do such a great job of limiting the big innings,” said Stanford head coach Rachel Hanson. “They work hard to keep the ball low and get us some groundball outs or routine fly balls. Great job by our defense for making some dazzling plays behind them to help them out.”
Sorenson and Ashby received consistent contributions from its defense the help limit Oregon's offense. Tylyn Wells, Kaitlin Schaberg, Arden Pettit and Jessica Plaza each made notable highlight worthy defensive plays.
Bessie Noll led Stanford at the plate with a 2-for-3 performance to extend her hitting-streak to six games. She has seven hits over the past six games consisting of three home runs, three singles and a double. Sorenson, Kayla Bonstrom and Ashby recorded a hit apiece.
“I'm really proud of the resiliency this team displays,” said Hanson. “To go up against the No. 1 team in the nation this weekend and battle down to the end. We've been close in the seventh inning every game this series and that's a testament to the fight of this team.”
For the third time in the series, Stanford found itself in an early deficit with Oregon scoring three runs in the first inning.
However, as the Cardinal had done in each of the past two games, it matched the Ducks run total in the bottom half of the inning. Tylyn Wells led off with a walk and moved to third when Sorenson doubled down the left field line.
Bonstrom delivered a RBI-single to bring in Stanford's first run. Ashby followed with a double to right-center field to bring in two runs and knot the game at 3-3.
Oregon took the lead in the top of the fourth inning when Janie Takeda singled up the middle to bring in a run.
The Cardinal threatened in the bottom half of the inning and chased Oregon starting pitcher Jasmine Smithson-Willett from the circle. However, Cheridan Hawkins (20-3) entered at pitcher and shut down Stanford's offense.
Oregon added two runs in the top of the sixth to provide an extra cushion. Stanford could not find the hits needed to generate a rally and mount a comeback.
The Cardinal travels to Arizona this weekend for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. (PT).