Shelby Weeks set the table with some aggressive base running and Taylor Cotton continued her solid performance in the circle to help spark the Oregon State softball team on Friday.
Weeks had three hits, including her first home run of the season, and scored three runs, while Sammi Noland was a triple short of the cycle to pace a 14-hit attack.
Cotton, meanwhile, allowed just four hits and struck out nine while walking two in a complete-game performance.
That equated to an important Pac-12 series-opening 6-0 win over Stanford at the OSU Softball Complex.
“We need these wins if we want to go to the postseason so we’re determined to get to regionals,” Cotton said.
Oregon State (23-18, 5-8) and Stanford (17-23, 0-13) will play the second game of the series at 1 p.m. Saturday. Sunday’s finale is set for noon.
“It’s always good to come out with a first-game win of a series but the next two games are the most important ones,” coach Laura Berg said. “We have to have better energy in the dugout than what we had today and take care of business.”
Weeks set the tone in the first inning as she used some heads up base running to be in position to score the Beavers’ first run.
After reaching on an infield single, Weeks went first to third on a slow roller to third by Alysha Everett. One pitch later, Weeks scampered home on a wild pitch.
“Just reading the defense,” Weeks said. “I saw nobody was there at third and the corners were up, the shortstop was over so I said I’ll take it, free bag. Thank you.”
Berg said that run helped the Beavers get off to the start they needed against a Stanford team that is winless in conference play.
“That’s huge for her to be able to be that aggressive on the bases,” Berg said. "It causes havoc (and) it makes people make errors and things like that and they’ve got to be heads up. If Shelby doesn’t do that, then we don’t get a run in that first inning where it really set the tone.”
Oregon State loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Noland, Lovie Lopez and Stephanie Merwin in the second. However, a 1-2-3 double play and a pop up to second ended the threat.
The Beavers tacked on three runs in the third thanks to a run-scoring double from Noland that drove home Weeks, and a two-run single from Lopez with Everett, who singled, and Noland scoring to make it 4-0.
Weeks gave the Beavers a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth as she drilled her first home run of the season to right.
“This week I’ve really been working on my swing, staying stacked with my body and not letting my hands float away from me,” Weeks said. “That swing was great. It felt good and it’s good that I’ve been working on something and it’s really paid off.”
Noland joined the three-hit club for the day when she homered to right-center, her seventh of the season, to make it 6-0 in the fifth.
With the Beavers in control, Cotton settled into a nice groove. After allowing a leadoff single to Kylie Sorenson in the third, Cotton retired 12 of the next 13, with only a two-walk over that span, to keep the Cardinal off the board through six innings.
Cotton, who has tossed two shutouts in her last three starts, including one against UCLA last week, said her pitches have been working well, except maybe one.
“I’m still trying to work on my changeup, I throw it here or there but not my most consistent," she said. "But all my pitches so far have been working pretty well."
Cotton, a senior, improved to 9-4 and lowered her ERA to 2.19 for the season.
“Taylor’s been capable of doing that all three years,” Berg said. “Sometimes for seniors it just clicks and it's clicked with her and it’s great.”