No. 3 Softball To Compete In Red Desert Classic

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Feb. 26, 2002

Fri., Mar. 1...vs. UNLV (9-9)...12 p.m...St. George, UT...12 p.m. MST/11 a.m. PST
Fri., Mar. 1...vs. Eastern Kentucky (3-2)...St. George, UT...2 p.m. MST/1 p.m. PST
Sat., Mar. 2...vs. Southern Utah (9-9)...St. George, UT...12 p.m. MST/11 a.m. PST
Sat., Mar. 2...vs. UC Santa Barbara (9-12)...St. George, UT...2 p.m. MST/1 p.m. PST
Sun., Mar. 3...vs. Utah (7-19)...St. George, UT...11 a.m. MST/10 a.m. PST

Cardinal Update
The tournament season continues for Stanford this weekend, as the Cardinal are scheduled to compete at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, beginning Friday, Mar. 1. The tournament is the third in as many weeks for the Card, who enter the weekend with a 13-2 overall mark and are ranked No. 2 in the nation. The annual event is hosted by the University of Utah and features teams from various conferences participating in a pool play format. Things have been going well lately for Stanford, which went 4-2 at last week's NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., and were crowned consolation champions of the Gold Bracket. The Cardinal will be hoping for similiar performances this weekend when it goes up against its five scheduled opponents: UNLV, Eastern Kentucky, Southern Utah, UC Santa Barbara and Utah.

Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford softball dropped one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 in the latest USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll, as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. After achieving the highest ranking in program history in the last poll (No.2), Stanford finished 4-2 at last weekend's NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Cardinal will battle 11 teams currently ranked in the top-25, while competing in arguably the strongest conference in the nation. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 ULCA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 California, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 10 Pacific.

A Look at the Field..........2002 RED DESERT CLASSIC
St. George, Utah, is the next stop on Stanford's preseason tournament swing, where the Cardinal are set to compete at the Red Desert Classic. The Cardinal holds a 9-0 overall record at the three-day tourney, which follows a pool play format. All games will be played at the City of St. George Softball Complex on five different fields. First up for Stanford will be UNLV (9-9), which has lost four in a row including a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Pacific on the final day of last weekend's Las Vegas Tournament. Eastern Kentucky's (5-2) doubleheader with Louisville on Tuesday was postponed due to inclement weather, however the Colonels began the 2002 season last weekend with a runner-up finish at the Mercer Classic. The Cardinal's third opponent of the tournament, Southern Utah (9-9), swept a doubleheader last week against Utah State after losing the previous four contests. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara (9-12), which also competed at the Campbell/Cartier Classic along with Stanford two weeks ago, are just 3-7 in their last 10 games despite blanking Santa Clara 2-0 in its last game. The final opponent of the weekend, host Utah (7-19), is hitting just .217 on the season and has lost 10 of 11.

The Rittman File
John Rittman begins his sixth season at the helm of the Stanford women's softball program after being named head coach on July 12, 1996. In just five years on The Farm, Rittman has brought the Stanford softball program from a non-scholarship club-level program to a fully-funded championship contender. The 2001 season was the most impressive campaign under Rittman's tenure, as the Cardinal finished with its best single-season overall record at 54-16-1 and highest ranking at No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA national poll. Rittman was awarded the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year honor and currently has accumulated a 210-100-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.

Strong Showing At NFCA Leadoff Classic
Competing among 24 of the nation's best squads in what is considered to be one of the most prestigious preseason tournaments, the Cardinal won four of its six games over the weekend. Stanford finished 2-1 in pool play before breaking off into the Gold Bracket, where it was crowned consolation champions on the final day of play.
For the second time in a week Stanford bested Cal State Fullerton- this time by a 6-1 score. Tori Nyberg pitched her third complete game ofthe year, scattering four hits and striking out five. Jessica Mendoza hit a two-run homer in the first and Sarah Beeson went 3-3 at the dish to pace an 11-hit Cardinal attack.
After falling behind 1-0, Stanford's Maureen LeCocq drew a bases loaded walk to force in the tying run and the Cardinal scored three times in the fifth to secure the 4-1 win. LeCocq went the distance and allowed just two hits, while Sarah Beeson singled home pinch runner Jessica Draemel for the go-ahead run.
Massachusetts, which had been shutout in its first two tourney games, scored two runs in the top of the seventh to earn the 3-1 upset win. Jessica Mendoza's RBI double in the first inning gave Stanford a 1-0 lead until the Minutewomen tied it a t 1-1 in the second inning. Maureen LeCocq suffered her first loss of the year.
Tournament MVP Peaches James of Nebraska limited the Cardinal to just one hit on the evening as the Huskers blanked the Cardinal 2-0 in 1:33. Nebraska's Kim Ogee 's two-run homer in the third inning was the only scoring in the contest. Heather Shook, making her first start, had the only Cardinal hit with a single in the third.
For the third time this year, the Cardinal upened the Titans- this time 1-0. Despite only managing two hits on the day, Stanford advanced with the win. Sarah Beeson homered in the bottom of the sixth inning for the only run of the game and Tori Nyberg threw a three-hit shutout and struck out three for her seventh win.
STANFORD 1, FRESNO STATE 0 (8 innings):
In the Gold Bracket consolation championship, Stanford scored in the top of the eighth to edge Fresno State 1-0. Jessica Draemel came around to score from second after Cassi Brangham's fly ball was dropped by a Bulldog outfielder. Tori Nyberg held Fresno State to just two hits over eight innings and whiffed six hitters.

One of the reasons the Cardinal has been able to get off to such a fast start has been the solid pitching of junior Tori Nyberg. Nyberg is now 8-1 overall on the season, and has allowed just 24 hits and four earned runs in 56.2 innings pitched for a 0.49 ERA. In addition, she has walked just 13 while striking out 57 and limiting the opposition to a .128 average. The junior hurler was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 19-24 for her efforts, and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the NFCA Leadoff Classic after recording three wins in four starts and allowing just three runs in 28 innings while striking out 23.

It Won't Happen This Week
And that's because the Titans of Cal State Fullerton aren' t competing at the Red Desert Classic. Stanford has squared off with CSUF three times already this season, including two last weekend in Columbus, Ga., at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Not that it's a bad thing- the Cardinal are 3-0 in those meetings and have outscored their Big West rivals 9-1. Stanford bested Cal State Fullerton 6-1 in its opener last weekend before recording a 1-0 shutout against the Titans again on Sunday in bracket play.

Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters in the early going, as the All-American leads the squad in batting average (.500), hits (20), doubles (5), RBI (13), total bases (28), slugging percentage (.700) and on-base percentage (.608). Beeson's solo home run against Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 24 gave Stanford a 1-0 win at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, where she was 6-16 with two runs scored and three RBI in six games.

What Else Is New?
Three-time First Team All-American senior Jessica Mendoza has started all 15 games so far and is hitting .319 with 15 runs scored, 12 RBI and six steals. Mendoza was equally tough at the dish in 2001, leading the Cardinal with a .405 average in 71 games started. She also led Stanford in the following categories: runs (70), hits (83), home runs (14), total bases (151), slugging percentage (.737), on-base percentage (.504) and stolen bases (31).

Tourney-Tested Road Warriors
Just two tournaments remain on the schedule before a Mar. 23 doubleheader against BYU at home. After this weekend's Red Desert Classic, the Cardinal will finish tournament play with an appearance at the Speedline Invitational in Tampa, FL (Mar. 7-10) after hosting Baylor next Tuesday at 5 p.m. Stanford has competed at the Campbell/Cartier Classic and NFCA Leadoff Classic already this season.

Notes From The Dugout
A .253 overall average won't get it done, and that's what the Cardinal have dropped to after its bats went silent at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Stanford entered last weekend's tourney hitting .317, but managed to record four hits or less in five of its six games...Sarah Beeson has the longest hitting streak of the season at nine games...Beeson and Jessica Mendoza laed the team with five multiple-hit contests...Scoring early hasn't been a problem (65 runs in the first five innings) compared to later in the game (8 runs over the final two frames)...Where would the Cardinal be without Jessica Draemel, who scored the only run as a pinch runner against Fresno State in the eighth inning and ignited a three-run rally against Missouri by scoring the go-ahead run follwing Sarah Beeson's fifth inning single.

Notes From Around The Bullpen
The Cardinal pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.25, and has allowed just 61 hits and 18 earned runs in 101 IP...Opponents are hitting just .174 thus far...Maureen LeCocq has been a dependable arm for the Card this season, and is 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 36.2 inning pitched. LeCocq went 1-1 in two starts last week at the NFCA Leadoff Classic....Freshman Elizabeth Bendig has made two appearances in relief and has yet to allow a hit.

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