Stanford, Calif. - Playing their first NCAA tournament game since 2007, the Pacific softball team could not get out of its own way as costly mistakes were the difference in a pitchers' duel as the Tigers feel 3-0 to the No. 11 ranked Stanford Cardinal on Friday, May 20. The loss dropped the Tigers to 37-18 overall while the Cardinal improved to 39-15.
In a rematch from a contest on April 19, the Tigers sent sophomore Nikki Armagost to the circle to take on Stanford's ace, Teagan Gerhart. Even better than the previous meeting, the two sophomore aces found themselves locked in a duel in the circle that ultimately became decided by defensive execution behind them in the field. As was the case a month prior, the Tigers suffered from mistakes in the field as a pair of errors in the bottom of the third inning would cost Pacific all three of the Cardinal runs and with it the game.
Racing through the Cardinal lineup the first time around, Armagost retired the first eight batters she faced before the first hiccup allowed the Cardinal life in the third. Fittingly, Armagost's counterpart in the circle, Gerhart, was the first Cardinal to reach base in the game as an error allowed the sophomore to reach with two outs in the third to bring the top of the order back to the plate. A wild pitch and another error by the Tigers allowed the Cardinal to score their first run of the inning while an infield hit and a double by Jenna Rich finished off the two-out rally by Stanford.
After allowing her first hits of the game in the third, Armagost would give up just one more hit overall, a single in the fourth, to finish with just four hits against in six complete innings pitched. The sophomore suffered just her 10th loss on the year to fall to 19-10 overall while seeing her ERA drop .08 points to 2.46.
On the other side of the ball, Gerhart was at her best late while holding the lead as the sophomore improved to 23-11 on the year. After giving up four hits to the Tigers' vaunted offense a month prior, Gerhart held Pacific to three hits in seven innings of work to pick up her second win over the Tigers. Despite her late control of the game, the Tigers did have their chances early against the Cardinal starter as the Tigers left runners on in both the first and the second with a pair of runners in scoring position coming in the second.
The Tigers best chance of the evening came in the second inning after sophomore Amy Moore led the inning off with a double into the right-center gap. After junior Alexa Rivera was struck by an errant pitch with one out in the inning, the Tigers nearly pushed a run across the plate when senior Lindsey Pierce slapped a shot down the third base line. However, her ball landed just inches foul of the bag, sending both runners back and the senior back to the plate. She would later ground out, moving the runners to second and third where they would be left stranded.
Other than Moore, freshman Megan Foglesong, who picked up the first hit of the night for the Tigers, and sophomore Megan Allen were the only Tigers to record hits against Gerhart. With 0-for-3 lines in the scorebook for the night, sophomore Megan Hom saw her season-high 14-game hitting streak come to an end while junior Nicole Matson snapped a 25-game on-base streak.
The Tigers will take on No. 16 Nebraska on Saturday, May 21, in an elimination game at the NCAA Regional tournament at Smith Family Stadium. The game is scheduled for 3:00 pm with the winner immediately taking on the loser of game three which will be played between Stanford and Fresno State at 12:00 pm.