Stanford’s starting nine had struck out just 32 times in 18 games coming into Saturday’s matchup against the University of Alabama softball team at Rhoads Stadium.
Then the Cardinal met Alexis Osorio. Alabama’s junior ace struck out 18 in a one-hit shutout to lead the ninth-ranked Crimson Tide to a 4-0 victory.
Alabama added a 10-0 victory over Drake – with Madi Moore and Sydney Littlejohn combining on a no-hitter – to run its winning streak to 11 heading into Sunday’s final day of play in the Crimson Classic. UA will host Jacksonville at 1:30 p.m.
The high strikeout totals are nothing new for the riseball specialist, who had already had tallies this year of 19, 15 and14 (twice), as well as 11 in four innings of no-hit work against Jacksonville less than 24 hours before.
One of those strikeouts against Jacksonville was the 600th of her career. She could eventually catch Kelsi Dunne’s school career record of 1,219.
“We’re getting spoiled,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “It wasn’t her best performance, either, which is scary.”
Stanford kids are smart. Osorio left them baffled.
“She spots it well,” Stanford coach Rachel Hanson said. “She’s got up movement that she can throw really anywhere in the zone, and that makes it really difficult.”
It was also difficult for the Cardinal to tell what was a strike and what wasn’t. They struck out swinging on balls out of the zone and took eight third strikes when they were either frozen by offerings or realized too late that the pitches were in the zone.
“If you’re not attacking the first good strike you see, you put yourself behind and you’re in trouble,” Hanson said. “She just spins the ball extremely well.”
Osorio (9-1) walked three and gave up a third-inning single.
“She wants to dominate, and that’s what she does,” catcher Reagan Dykes said. “She doesn’t miss very often, so it’s easy to catch her.”
Fielders haven’t been getting much action.
“We’re still talking the whole time to make sure, here comes the ball, it’s going to come to me, just in case,” third baseman Marisa Runyon said.
But it doesn’t.
Before one inning, Osorio told the defense she was going to let them get some work.
“Nope,” Runyon said. “Three strikeouts.”
Outfielder Merris Schroder tripled in three runs in the first inning. In the fifth, she doubled and scored on a single by Dykes.
Stanford fell to 12-7.
Alabama (18-2) got a mercy-rule victory over Drake in five innings. Moore (3-1) threw three no-hit innings, but left after taking a shot to the nose blocking the plate for the final out in the top of the third. Littlejohn closed it out, striking out five with one walk.
Carrigan Fain hit a three-run home run to lead UA and Bailey Hemphill doubled and drove in two runs. Claire Jenkins hit a two-run homer.
Drake fell to 12-8.