Arizona State (25-17, 5-10 Pac-12) ventures into the Bay Area this weekend to take on Stanford (31-10, 7-5 Pac-12) as the Sun Devils look to snap a nine-game losing streak against a Cardinal team who is having an impressive season under second-year head coach Jessica Allister.
Allister has her team over the 30-win plateau and they are entering one of the toughest portions of their schedule. Stanford was swept and run ruled twice at No. 5 Arizona last weekend.
Additionally, the Cardinal have yet to play No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Washington. With a chance to make up ground in the conference standings, this weekend’s series is pivotal in regards to fourth place and a possible postseason regional host, which the Sun Devils are still in contention for.
ASU is behind the Cardinal right now and they can gain traction if they get back on track this weekend.
Head coach Trisha Ford will return to a place where she used to coach as an assistant in Palo Alto, and she will square off against her former catcher in Allister.
“Jess has done a great job and obviously, I have a really good relationship with her,” said Ford of going up against Stanford. “She’s somebody that when I coached there, she played there...I think they (this year’s Stanford team) reflects who she is - Scrappy, hard-nosed. They aren’t fancy but they get it done. I think that’s exactly what Jess is. She’s somebody that wasn’t flashy but she was probably one of the best catchers I’ve ever coached and been around...We have to match their scrappiness.”
Game one: Friday, April 26 (7:00 p.m. MST)
Game Two: Saturday, April 27 (5:30 p.m. MST)
Game Three: Sunday, April 28 (1:00 p.m. MST)
*All three games can be viewed on the Stanford live stream.
A Look at the Cardinal
Stanford has been led offensively by junior infielder Teaghan Cowles, who is batting .400 with five home runs and 17 RBI’s. Freshman utility player Emily Young has also provided pop, batting .318 with three homers and 16 RBI’s.
In the circle, three different arms have primarily hauled most of the innings for Stanford. Junior Kiana Pancino, senior Carolyn Lee, and sophomore Maddy Dwyer have shared an even amount of time. Junior Nikki Bauer has also seen time. As a staff, the Cardinal has a 3.09 ERA and Lee leads the group in strikeouts with 89.
On paper, this series has the looks of a competitive matchup. ASU’s potent offense will face-off on The Farm against a Stanford team that is on the rise.
The Cardinal will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2014 and they are more than on pace to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Above everything, ASU is hungry to snap their losing streak after a rough stretch of three straight series’ against top-10 teams. After a hiatus with an off week, the Devils return to action Friday night.
“We have a standard here and the last couple weeks, we haven’t played to our standard,” Ford said. “It’s not about the losses, it’s about us coming out and playing our ballgames. We were all talking about it, we are itching to get back out on the field. As much of a long season as it is...We are all missing it. For us, it’s to get that energy and that focus back and play our softball and not what’s kind of showed up on the field the last couple of weeks.”