No. 3 Softball Captures 2002 Speedline Invitational Championship
March 10, 2002
PLANT CITY, Fla. - Jessica Mendoza was just another spectator in the Cardinal dugout on Saturday night, watching as Stanford blanked Mississippi State 7-0 to advance to Sunday's semifinal against Florida Atlantic. After sitting out the first game of her four-year career against the Bulldogs with an elbow injury, she more than made up for it on Sunday afternoon.
Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) homered twice and drove in three runs to pace the Cardinal, as No. 3 Stanford defeated No. 13 Florida Atlantic 4-0 in the championship game of the Speedline Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday afternoon. Stanford improves to 26-2, while Florida Atlantic is now 25-4.
Both programs were slated to compete in the semifinals earlier in the morning before the other remaining semifinalists- BYU and Houston- were unable to participate on the final day. Therefore, the semifinal between the Cardinal and the Owls was moved up one hour and recognized as the 2002 tournament championship.
Stanford (26-2), which has now won 15 straight games since a 2-0 loss on Feb. 23 loss to No. 4 Nebraska, got on the board early when Mendoza drilled an 0-2 pitch over the center field fence for a solo home run to give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead.
After Robin Walker (La Palma, Calif.) singled to open the third inning, Mendoza smashed her second home run of the day to right field to put Stanford up 3-0. The blast was her team-leading seventh of the season and fourth of the tournament. Maureen LeCocq (Woodland Hills, Calif.) singled home Kira Ching (San Lorenzo, Calif.) later in the frame for the fourth Cardinal run.
Junior Tori Nyberg (Belmont, Calif.) provided the Cardinal with yet another impressive outing in the circle, notching her 13th complete game and sixth shutout of the season to improve to 16-1 overall. She allowed eight hits on Sunday afternoon, while walking two and striking out four.
Florida Atlantic, which had yet to lose a game at the tournament prior to Sunday's semifinal, stranded nine runners on base.
Four Cardinal athletes were awarded 2002 Speedline Invitational honors. Jessica Mendoza was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, while Tori Nyberg was tabbed the Most Valuable Pitcher. Also garnering tourney accolades were Kira Ching and Sarah Beeson (Tucson, Ari.).
Stanford will be idle this week and return to action Saturday, Mar. 23, when it squares off against BYU in a doubleheader at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium beginning at 12 p.m.
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