No. 3 Softball Advances To Semifinal Round Of Speedline Invitational

March 9, 2002

PLANT CITY, Fla. - No. 3 Stanford softball advanced to Sunday's semifinal round at the Speedline Invitational in Tampa, Fla., as it recorded two wins on Saturday afternoon to improve to 6-0 during its weekend stay at the tournament. The Cardinal, which is 13-1 all-time at the event, downed Penn State 4-2 in its first game on Saturday and blanked Mississippi State 7-0 in the nightcap.

Jessica Allister (Nacogdoches, Texas) homered twice against Penn State in the final game of pool play competition, as the Cardinal (24-2) downed the Lady Lions (8-10) 4-2 to begin the day. Allister had two of Stanford's three hits in the contest, with a three-run home run in the top of the first inning proving to be the game-breaker.

The Cardinal increased its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third inning when Allister went deep for the second time in as many at-bats. Robin Walker's (La Palma, Calif.) single was the only other Stanford hit of the day against Penn State, which tallied seven hits and left nine runners on base.

The Lady Lions would scratch back single runs in the fourth and seventh innings to round out the scoring. Catcher Mandy Nuxoll paced the squad with a 3-4 day at the plate.

Stanford hurler Maureen LeCocq (Woodland Hills, Calif.) improved to 9-1 on the season, as the junior worked all seven innings for her sixth complete game effort.

Facing a seasoned Mississippi State squad that had already defeated powerhouse Arizona earlier this season, it looked as if the Cardinal would have its hands full with the Bulldogs.

However, the Cardinal (25-2) was able to generate some early scoring before breaking open the game in the fifth inning for a 7-0 shutout victory over the Bulldogs (17-10).

Tori Nyberg (Belmont, Calif.) notched her fifth shutout of 2002 as the Cardinal lineup mustered 14 hits in the win. Sarah Beeson (Tucson, Ari.) was 3-3 at the plate and freshman Elizabeth Bendig (Santa Ana, Calif.) chipped in with two hits and two RBI.

Cassi Brangham (Clovis, Calif.) and Meghan Sickler (Houston, Texas) smashed back-to-back singles to open the second inning before Jessica Draemel (Omaha, Neb.) was hit by a pitch. Bendig followed with an RBI double plating Brangham and Sickler for a 2-0 lead.Stanford added a third run in the following inning, when Beeson came around to score on a throwing error by Mississippi State's Kellie Wilkerson.

A four-run fifth inning would secure the win for the Card, which has now won its last 14 games. After opening the inning with three consecutive singles, Walker scored on Allister's fielder's choice to make it 4-0. Kira Ching (San Lorenzo, Calif.) came around to score on LeCocq's single to give Stanford a 5-0 edge, before Brangham roped a double to center to bring home Allister for a 6-0 lead. Sickler's sacrifice fly to deep right field plated LeCocq completed the scoring for the Cardinal, which received at least on hit from all nine starters.

Nyberg continued her impressive first half of the season in the circle, posting her 12th complete game. The junior hurler allowed just four hits on the evening, while walking just one and fanning eight Bulldog hitters.

Stanford will face Florida Atlantic in Sunday's semifinal round contest, which gets underway at 10:30 a.m. EST/7:30 a.m. PST. Should the Cardinal prevail, it would face Houston- a 7-5 winner over Illinois-Chicago in the quarterfinals- in the championship game at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST.

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