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The softball season ends in the semifinals of WCWS for the second year in a row

No. No. 8 Stanford (50-17, 17-7 Pac-12) ended the season with a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Texas (55-8, 23-4 Big-12). This was the second year in a row that the team reached the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series (WCWS).

The game was dominated by excellent pitching performances on both sides. Sophomore pitcher NiJaree Canady struck out seven, allowing zero walks and only five hits. Teagan Kavan threw a one-hit shutout for the Longhorns. However, the freshman got significant help from her defense, which made spectacular plays in the outfield to prevent Cardinal hits. The Longhorns have yet to allow a run in the WCWS. Kavan, who faced only one batter above the minimum, threw only 79 times, while Canady had 103 pitches.

Going into the last inning, the semi-final was tied at 0-0. The top of the seventh inning opened with a fielding error by second baseman Taryn Kern, putting Alyssa Washington on first base. Then, to make matters worse, Joley Mitchell hit a double to left center.

With runners on first and third base and no outs, all Texas needed was a sacrifice. The Longhorns played small ball. Ashton Maloney laid down a bunt. Washington appeared to be caught in a run-down between third place and home. Sophomore shortstop River Mahler ran down the third base line and tried to tag Washington. When Mahler couldn’t make the tag, she threw the ball to freshman first baseman Ava Gall. But it was too late. Washington reached for the tag and scored the only point of the match.

Texas scored and had runners on second and third base with no outs. Nevertheless, Canada got out of trouble. But despite her efforts, the damage was already done. Stanford was unable to respond in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Stanford had a remarkable season. After four starters and a co-starting pitcher left the program, it seemed impossible that the team would end the season in another WCWS semi-final. The Softball Collegiate Player of the Year carried the team, especially in the postseason, where she pitched in all of the final 39 innings of the season for a total of 581 pitches in a 10-day span.

“Of course NiJa was fantastic all week, fantastic today. Possibly one of the best Oklahoma City performances I’ve seen,” Allister said. “We had her on a short leash today. We were watching her closely, ready to make a change, and she said, absolutely not. I think the competitor in her is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

“I think I’m most proud of the way this team fought until the very last out. I will choose us every time,” Canady said.

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