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Stanford brings underrated pitching duo, speedy offense into series with Arizona State softball

Pitchers that aren’t household names

Courtesy of Stanford Athletics

Stanford (22-8, 3-3 Pac-12) comes into Tempe for its third conference series of the season. The Cardinal have swept Utah and been swept by Arizona thus far.

Jessica Allister’s team has flown under the radar again because of an underrated pitching duo and an offense built on speed.

The Pitching Duo

Arizona State’s bats aren’t facing another elite pitcher this upcoming weekend. However, Alana Vawter and Regan Krause have been solid for the Cardinal.

Similar to the Sun Devils’ Lindsay Lopez and Allison Royalty, Vawter, a sophomore, and Krause, a freshman, are facing the Pac-12 for the first time.

The young pairing had a rough time last week against Arizona.

Krause allowed 11 earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Wildcats. She previously had only given up 13 runs this season entering that series. Nevertheless, Krause has pitched well against Nevada, Utah, Cal, San Jose State and Loyola Marymount.

Vawter had a better showing. She threw two complete games and allowed four earned runs in the first game.

In the series finale, Arizona’s two runs were unearned and she surrendered just four hits. She stalled Utah’s offense over 14 innings and the Utes managed three earned runs in that span.

Vawter still holds a 0.95 ERA this season and Krause’s sits at 2.26.

The Sun Devils have beat the Cardinal 12 straight times and in the 2019 sweep, they scored 27 combined runs. Stanford didn’t have Vawter and Krause then, and Arizona State shouldn’t take the duo lightly.

Run, run, run

Stanford enters the series with a conference-low 11 home runs. The lineup doesn’t provide a lot of power, but presents a ton of speed. The team’s 43 stolen bases and 15 triples coming into the week leading the Pac-12.

The production comes from the top. Teaghan Cowles, Taylor Gindlesperger and Emily Young all bat in the first three spots in the lineup and are the only three qualified Cardinal batters with batting averages over .300.

Gindlesperger, the Arizona native and Hamilton High graduate, leads the team in hits (36), triples (five) and home runs (four). Cowles has been a perfect 16-for-16 on stolen base attempts. Gindlesperger and Young have combined to add 17 stolen bases as well.

Other Pac-12 Notes

  • UCLA appears to be ready to play again after a COVID-19 pause. The Bruins head to Oregon in a series that could determine the Pac-12 title. UCLA’s lone loss this season was to Brooke Yanez and the Ducks. However, Oregon has been the most consistent team in the conference throughout the season and only has two losses itself. It’ll be interesting if UCLA can match its level of play it was at when it last played, which happened to be against ASU, and equal Oregon’s play.
  • Oregon State hosts Washington. The Beavers are coming off a series loss to Oregon, but took a conference game and played the Ducks well all weekend. Oregon State held its in-state rival to four or less runs in all four games. The offense simply didn’t do enough. It’ll be interesting to see if the Beaver pitching staff can continue its success and if the bats can find enough production, especially against non-Gabbie-Plain pitchers to grab a win or two.
  • Cal and Utah face off in the other conference series. Utah really needs a series sweep to help any chance of reaching the postseason after a quick start to the season. The rebuilding Golden Bear team could earn coach Chelsea Spencer’s first conference series win against a struggling Utah squad.
  • Arizona has the non-conference weekend and will host New Mexico State and Team Mexico. The Wildcats are ASU’s next conference opponent, and the offense has certainly turned around since struggling against UCF, Florida State and Washington. Arizona has won eight straight and scored 55 runs during that stretch. The Wildcats scored six runs in six games against UCF, Florida State and Washington. It’ll be important for Lopez and Royalty to build off their recent success against Stanford because any type of wavering confidence against an experienced, talented Arizona lineup will spell out a long weekend for the Sun Devils.