No. 3 Softball Faces Oregon, No. 14 Oregon State This Weekend
No. 3 Stanford (30-5, 1-2 Pac-10) snapped its two-game losing streak on Tuesday, sweeping No. 11 Fresno State in a doubleheader at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal held the Bulldogs scoreless for the evening, notching a 5-0 shutout in game one and a 1-0 victory in the nightcap. Prior to Tuesday evening, Stanford had dropped three of its last four contests, including two losses to rival California last weekend to open conference action. Pac-10 competition resumes this weekend, as the Cardinal are scheduled to square off against Oregon in Eugene on Friday at 2 p.m., and will face No. 14 Oregon State on Saturday at 2 p.m. and again on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford checks in at 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. The Cardinal has held down the No. 2 spot twice this season, representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 13-4 thus far against opponents ranked in the top-25, and will face No. 14 Oregon State this week. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 California, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, No. 8 Arizona State, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Washington.
Scouting the Ducks
The Cardinal will travel to Eugene for a matchup against Oregon on Friday at 2 p.m. The Ducks (18-12, 0-3 Pac-10) were no-hit in the rubber game of their three-game Civil War series with rival Oregon State on Tuesday, 1-0. Oregon State completed the three-game sweep over the Ducks, who have lost four of six. The Ducks dropped the first game of the series- a 2-0 decision on Mar. 29 and then suffered a 3-2 defeat on Mar. 30 in game two. The Ducks are led on offense by Andrea Vidlund (.412, 33 H, 7 HR, 31 RBI), Alyssa Laux (.362, 25 H, 18 R, 32 TB) and Kristi Hall (.345, 20 H, 2 HR, 12 RBI). The Ducks have been employing a rotation of three starters to begin the season, and own a combined ERA of 2.26. The committee includes Anissa Meashintub (7-2, 1.70 ERA, 3 SHO, 55 K), Lindsey Kontra (5-4, 2.43 ERA, 5 CG) and Connie McMurren (6-3, 2.65 ERA, 7 CG). The Cardinal have won 10 of the 21 meetings with the Ducks, including three victories last season. Oregon is guided by first-year coach Brent Rincon.
Scouting the Beavers
No. 14 Oregon State (30-9, 3-0 Pac-10) will be the Cardinal's opponent on Saturday and Sunday to close the weekend road trip. The Beavers are off to a great start in 2002, and have won eight of their last nine. The last three wins came at the expense of rival Oregon in the Civil War series, highlighted by sophomore Monica Hoffman's third career no-hitter in Tuesday's 1-0 victory. Oregon State blanked the Ducks 2-0 in game one, and then edged their rivals by a 3-2 score on Mar. 30. The Beavers top hitting threats are Clare Burnum (.366, 41 H, 13 2B, 14 RBI, 7 SB) and Brynnan Guthrie (.328, 41 H, 23 R, 4 HR, 22 RBI). In the circle, Oregon State features a pair of 10-game winners: Kristen Hunter (10-3, 1.35 ERA, 83 K's in 82.2 IP) and Crystal Draper (10-2, 1.49 ERA, 136 K's in 98.1 IP). Monica Hoffman also has contributed in the early going with a 10-4 mark and a 0.79 ERA and 97 K's in 79.2 IP. Stanford is 17-10 all-time against Oregon State, and took two out of three in 2001. The Beavers, who have lost all nine games by three runs or less, are led by eighth-year head coach Kirk Walker.
The Rittman File
John Rittman is currently in 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 240-105-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.
Card Takes Bite Out of Bulldogs
Tremendous starting pitching efforts by Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq, along with clutch hitting and superb defense translated into a non-conference doubleheader sweep of No. 11 Fresno State on Tuesday evening at home. The Cardinal posted back-to-back shutouts against the 'Dawgs, winning 5-0 in the opener and 1-0 in the second game.
STANFORD 5, FRESNO STATE 0 (Apr. 3): Tori Nyberg tossed a four-hit shutout in the first game, striking out four while walking just one to improve to 18-3. Following three consecutive singles by Robin Walker, Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson to open the fourth inning, the Cardinal received back-to-back sacrifice flies from Kira Ching and Jessica Allister and an RBI single from Cassi Brangham to take a 3-0 lead off Bulldog starter Jamie Southern. Mendoza scored on an error and Brangham registered her second RBI single to round out the scoring.
STANFORD 1, FRESNO STATE 0 (Apr. 3): Maureen LeCocq extended her scoreless innings streak to 14 after blanking the Bulldogs in game two. LeCocq surrendered seven hits while fanning two to pick up the win. The only scoring of the game took place in the third inning, when Jessica Mendoza's double to center brought home Robin Walker, who led off the inning by scorching a single through the infield. Sarah Beeson, Kira Ching and Jessica Allister also recorded hits in the win, as the Cardinal defeated Fresno State for the third time in 2002.
Golden Bears Upend Cardinal
Stanford stumbled out of the gates in Pac-10 competition, dropping a 3-2 decision to California in the conference opener. The teams met on The Farm for a doubleheader the following day, where both squads split. Stanford blanked the Golden Bears 6-0 in the opener, while Cal claimed a 7-6 triumph in the second game.
CALIFORNIA 3, STANFORD 2 (Mar. 29): The Golden Bears scored three runs in the bottom of sixth to squeeze out the win in the Pac-10 opener. Jessica Mendoza homered in the first inning and Cassi Brangham added an RBI double in the seventh.
STANFORD 6, CALIFORNIA 0 (Mar. 30): Maureen LeCocq hurled a four-hit shutout in the first game of Saturday's double-dip, and Kira Ching's two-run double highlighted a four-run second inning for the Card.
CALIFORNIA 7, STANFORD 6 (Mar.30): Sarah Beeson and Jessica Mendoza homered, but it wasn't enough to offset seven Cal runs in the first four innings. Stanford scraped back with two in the bottom of seventh but fell short, 7-6.
LeCocq Heating Up
Maureen LeCocq continues to surge in the circle, extending her scoreless innings streak to 14 with a 1-0 shutout of Fresno State on Tuesday. LeCocq, who blanked Cal 6-0 last weekend at home, is now 11-2 overall with a 1.81 ERA for the Card. The junior has allowed 86 hits in 96.2 innings of work, while striking out 34.
She's At It Again
Three-time First Team All-American Jessica Mendoza continues to pick up where she left off last year. Overall, the senior centerfielder has started 34 of 35 games, and is hitting .457 (48-105). She leads the club in runs (41), hits (48), home runs (10), total bases (94) and stolen bases (16). She was named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week for games played between Mar. 4-10, in addition to her Pac-10 Player of the Week honor over the same time frame. Mendoza had her best weeks of the year in Tampa, as she hit 10-22 (.454) with four home runs, 10 runs scored and seven RBI.
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 18-3 overall on the season, and has allowed 84 hits in 132.2 innings pitched for a 1.16 ERA. In addition, she has walked just 34 while striking out 121 and limiting the opposition to a .177 average. The junior hurler was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 19-24 for her efforts, and was named Most Valuable Pitcher at the Speedline Invitational. She also made the All-Tournament Team at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Nyberg has notched 16 complete games and seven shutouts in 2002.
Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters in the early going. Beeson is leading the club with 31 RBI, and is second on the team in batting average (.434) and hits (44). She has also totaled 23 runs scored, 66 total bases and owns a .623 slugging percentage. Beeson has started all 35 games at first base and has eight doubles and four home runs.
Notes From The Dugout
Stanford's back-to-back shutout victories against Fresno State on Tuesday marked the first time the Cardinal had posted consecutive shutouts against the same team since blanking Saint Mary's 8-0 and 10-0 at home on Apr. 25, 2001...The Cardinal's last four victories against Fresno State have been of the shutout variety...In Stanford's last 10 wins, the opposition has scored just nine runs...The crowd of 962 for the first game of last weekend's doubleheader against California was the largest in Stanford softball history. .The previous high of 870 was achieved on May 20, 200, during Stanford's 9-1 victory over Pacific at NCAA Regionals...The Cardinal had not allowed more than five runs all season until last weekend's 7-6 defeat to California (a span of 32 games)...The Cardinal has outscored its opposition 201-58 this season and has outhit its foes by a .294-.198 clip....The first inning continues to be the inning of choice for Cardinal hitters- Stanford has outscored its opponents 45-5 in the opening frame...Jessica Allister has been impressive offensively (.255-5-27), as well as defensively (12-23 caught stealing)...The Cardinal pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.39 and opposing hitters are batting .198...Stanford is 21-3 when Tori Nyberg starts...The staff has combined for 25 complete games and 10 shutouts.