Exams are over for Stanford baseball,
but USC still provides a test
The second-ranked Stanford baseball team has been away from the office lately, taking nearly two weeks off to finish final exams in its academic world.
The Cardinal (13-2) restarts its season Saturday with a 1 p.m. game against visiting USC at Sunken Diamond, the first of three games in the Pac-12 Conference opener for Stanford.
The Trojans (1-2, 13-6) opened the season ranked in the top 25 and remain among teams receiving votes. They dropped two of three to Utah last weekend in their conference opener.
Stanford and USC also meet Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 4 p.m.
The Cardinal average 8.4 runs per game, with Stephen Piscotty leading the way with his .348 average and team-best 23 RBI.
The pitching staff has an ERA of 2.76, with the Cardinal's starting three going a combined 9-2.
Matt Foat leads the Trojans with a .386 average, while DH Kevin Roundtree has a .338 average and a team-best 14 RBI.
Stanford is 9-3 in its past 12 Pac-10 openers and won last year's matchup at Washington State. There doesn't seem to be any finals hangover for the Cardinal. Stanford won nine of its next 11 following the break last year and 14 of 20 in the two previous seasons combined.
Right-hander Mark Appel (3-1, 3.19), left-hander Brett Mooneyham (4-0, 2.33) and left-hander John Hochstatter (3-1, 1.09) are scheduled to start the weekend series for Stanford. All three pitchers have thrown at least six innings in 11 of 12 appearances.
Saturday's contest is the first of eight over the succeeding 10 days. Following the USC series, the Cardinal travels to UC Davis on Tuesday, travels to No. 5 Arizona (16-4) for a three-game series beginning next Friday and then returns to host Saint Mary's.
Stanford leads the nation in doubles per game (3.0) and ranks 32nd in team batting at .312, as Tyler Gaffney ranks fourth nationally in runs and three players -- Jake Stewart, Eric Smith and Kenny Diekroeger -- rank in the top-100 in doubles.
Stanford fencing team qualified nine of its members into the NCAA championships, which began Thursday on the campus of Ohio State.
The Stanford men, who received votes in the latest collegefencing360.com poll Tuesday, have five representatives, including Kian Ameli and Cole Connelly in epee, Turner Caldwell in foil and Jeremy Klepner and Cameron Lindsay in sabre.
Caldwell compiled a 34-3 record last year as a freshman, finishing seventh at the NCAA championships. Ameli was an NCAA All-American last year.
The women's team includes seniors Rebecca Chung and Ashley Titan in epee, freshman Lily McElwee in foil and freshman Julia Klepner in sabre. Titan competed at last year's NCAA meet.
Nationally No. 11 Stanford competes at the Pac-12 championships Saturday in Salt Lake City looking for its first conference title in four years and its ninth overall.
The Cardinal (10-3) is led by All-Pac-12 performers Alyssa Brown, Ashley Morgan and Nicole Pechanec.
Brown, a former Canadian national champion, competed on the beam most of the season and has added the vault as she fully recovers from an injury.
Pechanec, who has competed for the Czech Republic national team, ranks fifth nationally on the bars, while Morgan ranks 14th in the floor exercise. Shona Morgan ranks 19th on beam.
Stanford, seeded fourth for the meet, has six performers who have competed in previous conference championships, including Brown, Ashley Morgan, Shona Morgan, Pechanec, Nicole Dayton and Jenny Peter.
Ninth-ranked Stanford (25-3) opens the Pac-12 season Friday, hosting No. 2 California at 7 p.m. Saturday's game time is 1 p.m. and Sunday's series finale is set for noon.
The Cardinal will have been off for 12 days when it takes the field against the Bears (25-1).
Offensively, Stanford has three batters hitting better than .400, led by Hanna Winter at .471 (48-102) and Jenna Rich at .467 (42-90).
Teagan Gerhart (20-1, 1.35) has thrown the majority of innings so far but freshman Nyree White (5-2, 2.46) took on more of a load in Stanford's own Louisville Slugger Classic.
The Cardinal brings a 19-game winning streak into the conference opener.
Despite its unbeaten record (10-0), Stanford will take only a No. 4 ranking into Sunday's home match against Washington State at 11 a.m. UCLA currently sits atop the Campbell/ITA Rankings.