The Stanford softball team is one win away from its first berth in the Women's College World Series since 2004. Teagan Gerhart limited No. 2 Alabama to two runs on five hits and struck out eight in a 5-2 win Thursday to give No. 15 Stanford a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Super Regional series in Tuscaloosa.
The Cardinal can clinch a trip to Oklahoma City with a win on Friday at 1:30 p.m. PST (ESPNU). If Alabama wins, the teams will play the deciding game at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Crimson Tide was a perfect 20-0 at Rhoads Stadium this season entering Thursday's game. The SEC regular season champion committed only one error and outscored its opponents 26-3 in sweeping through last weekend's Regional round. In its first game against the Cardinal, Patrick Murphy's squad committed three errors and trailed 3-0 by the end of the second inning.
"It was one of the first bad games we have played all year," Murphy said.
Gerhart helped her own cause with an RBI groundout to give Stanford a 1-0 lead in the second before Sarah Hassman delivered a two-out, two-run single off of Alabama starter Kelsi Dunne, who struck out 10. The Cardinal added two more runs in the third on an error by Kayla Braud.
Ashley Hansen, one of three finalists for USA Softball's Collegiate Player of the Year Award, was 2-for-3 with a walk. Hansen entered the game batting an even .500 -- yes, .500 -- for the year, with nine home runs and 45 RBI. The other two finalists for the award are Arizona State's Katelyn Boyd and Missouri's Chelsea Thomas. Boyd is batting .444 with 17 home runs and 60 RBI for the Sun Devils, who host Texas A&M in Super Regional action tonight. Thomas enters this weekend's Super Regional against Washington with a 29-6 record and a 0.82 ERA. She's given up only 15 extra base hits in her 39 appearances.