Lincoln, Neb. - The Stanford Cardinal clinched a spot in a third straight regional final with a 4-1 victory over Northern Iowa in an elimination matchup at the NCAA Lincoln Regional on Saturday night.
Teagan Gerhart fired a complete-game four-hitter and struck out 10 to earn the victory and improve to 21-12 on the year. Her win came after she took the loss in Saturday's first game against Nebraska. Gerhart and her Cardinal teammates get another shot at the Huskers at 1 p.m. on Sunday in a nationally-televised game on the Big Ten Network. A Stanford victory would force an if-necessary game at 3:30 p.m. with a trip to the Eugene (Ore.) Super Regional on the line.
Northern Iowa, which won its first NCAA Tournament game in school history earlier Saturday against Tulsa, ended its season with a 27-26 record. Jamie Fisher (22-15) took the loss for UNI, allowing four runs on 11 hits in a complete-game effort. Eight of the 11 hits she allowed were infield singles. In Stanford's two-run third and fourth innings, five of the Cardinal's six hits were infield singles.
Stanford jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. The Cardinal produced two runs on three hits in the frame, including RBIs from Kayla Bonstrom and Jenna Rich. Stanford had a chance to extend the lead with runners at second and third and only one out, but had to settle for a two-run inning following a pair of ground outs.
The Cardinal added two more runs in the top of the fourth. A pair of infield singles, a wild pitch, an RBI ground out from Leah White and an RBI double from Kayla Bonstrom gave Stanford a 4-0 lead.
Four runs were enough for Gehart, who missed her seventh shutout of the season after allowing back-to-back two-out doubles to Micalla Rettinger and Gina Brown in the bottom of the sixth inning. A diving play from center fielder Sarah Hassman on a ball hit in the gap off the bat of Kristin Lock prevented another run from scoring.
Gerhart then retired the Panthers in order in the seventh.