No. 7 Cardinal Looking To Rebound At Home This Weekend

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April 22, 2002

THIS WEEK IN CARDINAL SOFTBALL
Wed., Apr. 24- Sacramento State (15-25, 4-11 Big West)- 5 p.m. (DH)...Stanford, CA
Fri., Apr. 26- No. 8 Washington (37-13, 6-5 Pac-10)- 7 p.m...Stanford, CA

****Televised by Silicon Valley Community Communications****
Sat., Apr. 27- No. 1 UCLA (40-6, 8-3 Pac-10)- 7 p.m...Stanford, CA
Sun., Apr. 28- No. 1 UCLA (40-6, 8-3 Pac-10)- 1 p.m...Stanford, CA

Cardinal Update
No. 7 Stanford (35-11, 4-8 Pac-10) endured its second three-game losing streak in as many weeks, dropping three hard-fought defeats to the Arizona schools last weekend at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal was edged 2-1 by top-ranked Arizona on Friday, before falling 4-0 and 1-0 to No. 6 Arizona State. Prior to its weekend conference games, Stanford was able to sweep a midweek doubleheader with UC Santa Barbara, downing the Gauchos 7-2 and 8-3. The squad will hope to turn things around again this weekend, as Sacramento State, No. 8 Washington and No. 1 UCLA visit The Farm. The action begins Wednesday at 5 p.m., as the Cardinal take on the Hornets in a non-conference twinbill. Stanford will then host the Huskies- who have already claimed two wins against the Card- on Friday at 7 p.m., before playing host to UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bruins topped Stanford 3-2 two weeks ago when the clubs faced off in Los Angeles. After this weekend, just 10 regular season contests (six of which are Pac-10 bouts) remain on the 2002 schedule.

Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford checks in at No. 7 in the latest USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll, as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. The ranking is the lowest for the Cardinal this season, as the team dropped four spots from last week's No. 3 ranking. The Cardinal has held down the No. 2 spot twice this season, representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 15-10 against opponents ranked in the top-25, and will face No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 Washington this weekend. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 6 California, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Cal State Fullerton and No. 10 Florida Atlantic.

Scouting the Hornets
Stanford continues its 10-game homestand on Wednesday evening against Sacramento State (15-25, 4-11 Big West) with a double-dip slated for 5 p.m. Sacramento State enters the matchup having dropped its last five games, with the last three losses (13-3, 9-0, 5-1) coming in a three-game series against Long Beach State. The Hornets, who are hitting .252 as a team and have only hit three home runs overall, are led by Jillian Bivert (.342, 41 H, 16 R, 11 RBI) and Erin Coyne (.319, 36 H, 45 TB). The pitching staff has a cummulative 2.61 ERA and is spearheaded by Nicole Deatherage (8-6, 1.55 ERA, 122 IP) and Bivert (5-12, 2.69 ERA, 11 CG, 106.2 IP). Sacramento State is guided by head coach Kathy Strahan, who is in her 10th season at the helm of the program. The Cardinal had little trouble with the Hornets last year, sweeping a doubleheader in Sacramento late in the season. Overall, Stanford holds a 10-4 edge in the series.

Scouting the Huskies
No. 8 Washington (37-13, 6-5 Pac-10) owns two victories against Stanford already this season, besting the Cardinal 11-3 and 3-0 in Seattle just two weeks ago. Stanford will look to salvage the final game between the two schools when the clubs hook up on Friday at 7 p.m. The Huskies are riding a five-game winning streak, in which they have outscored their opponents 24-4 and posted three shutouts. Washington's lineup features two prominent offensive threats: All-American Jamie Clark (.441, 67 H, 49 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI) and Kristen Rivera (.368, 51 H, 15 HR, 54 RBI). Rita Roach and Becky Simpson have at least 50 hits apiece, and the Huskies have four players with at least 15 stolen bases. Anchoring the pitching staff are starters Ashley Boek (15-2, 1.06 ERA, 114 K's in 118.2 IP) and Tia Bollinger (16-7, 1.16 ERA, 141 K's in 138.1 IP). The Huskies are guided by head coach Teresa Wilson and have won 22 of 29 in the all-time series between the two schools.

Scouting the Bruins
Stanford will conclude its weekend with two contests against No. 1 UCLA (40-6, 8-3 Pac-10). The Bruins, who have picked up seven consecutive victories, are scheduled to host Washington on Wednesday and travel to Berkeley for a single game against California on Friday before its Saturday tilt with the Cardinal. The Pac-10's leading squad has been hitting the ball well this season, as UCLA boasts a .350 batting average and 10 athletes have totaled 25 hits to date. Stacey Nuveman (.542, 64 H, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 122 TB) paces the lineup, along with Natasha Watley (.503, 85 H, 51 R, 11 2B, 31 SB) and Tairia Sims (.343, 46 H, 23 R, 7 HR, 36 RBI). The arms corps has been equally brilliant, with starters Keira Goerl (21-4, 0.49 ERA, 14 SHO, 202 K's in 157 IP) and Amanda Freed (17-2, 0.81, 134 K's in 130 IP) leading the way. The staff has an overall ERA of 0.66 and has notched 25 shutouts so far. UCLA is directed by 14-year head coach Sue Enquist, and the Bruins are 22-6 all-time versus Stanford.

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. Rittman was awarded the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year honor and currently has accumulated a 245-111-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.

Pac-10 Bumps
Following its doubleheader sweep of UC Santa Barbara, the Cardinal were rudely reminded just how tough Pac-10 conference play can be. Stanford dropped its next three games (2-1 to No. 1 Arizona and 4-0 and 1-0 to No. 6 Arizona State), extending its conference losing streak to six. Of those six losses, three have been of the one-run variety. With just nine conference matchups remaining (six at home), it will be important to gain some ground this weekend. Stanford suffered through a similiar stretch late last year, when it dropped seven consecutive conference games in a two-week span. Among the culprits: UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State.

Arizona Schools Bring The Heat
The tough starting pitching of Arizona's Jennie Finch and Arizona State's Erica Beach was too much to overcome last weekend, as the Cardinal tallied just nine hits and one run in three games. The lack of hitting translated into a 2-1 loss to Arizona on Friday, and 4-0 and 1-0 defeats to ASU over the next two days.
(4-19-02: Arizona 2, Stanford 1) Jennie Finch improved to 24-1, allowing just three hits and fanning five in a complete game effort on Friday. A fourth-inning RBI single from Sarah Beeson plated Jessica Mendoza, who doubled with one out, to give Stanford a 1-0 lead entering the final frame. However, Arizona's MacKenzie Vandergeest hit a two-run homerun to center to rally the Wildcats to a victory, spoiling a terrific effort by Cardinal starter Tori Nyberg, who limited Arizona to two hits while striking out eight over seven innings of work.
(4-20-02: Arizona State 4, Stanford 0) ASU put three runs on the board in the top of the first inning and Erica Beach did the rest, holding the Cardinal to two hits with five strikeouts in five innings. Stanford's Robin Walker led the Red & White with two hits as Stanford stranded nine runners on base. Junior Maureen LeCocq suffered the tough-luck loss, going the distance and fanning five hitters on the evening.
(4-21-02: Arizona State 1, Stanford 0) The Cardinal was blanked by the Sun Devils for the second straight game, collecting just two hits in a 1-0 loss to Arizona State. Beach notched her 24th win, pitching six innings of two-hit ball with two K's. Cassi Brangham and Jessica Allister registered the only hits of the afternoon for Stanford. The Cardinal left eight runners on base in the loss and wasted another solid outing from Tori Nyberg, who recorded her 20th complete game in a four-hit, five-strikeout effort.

Reverse Trend
After not being shutout since a 2-0 loss to Nebraska at the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Feb. 23, the Cardinal have now been held scoreless in three of its last six games. Washington (3-0 on Apr. 15) and Arizona State, with its two shutouts last week, are the only other schools who have kept Stanford's bats silent for nine innings. The Cardinal would prefer to be on the other side of the ledger, as it has been most of this year. 11 of Stanford's 35 triumps in 2002 have been of the shutout variety. However, as impressive as that may seem, last season was even better. The Cardinal recorded 33 shutouts in 2001, and had blanked 25 opponents through its first 38 games of the year.

Late-Inning Magic
The squad simply must develop the ability to rally when down late in the game. Stanford sits at just 1-7 when the opponent has the lead entering the final inning. The Cardinal faced such opportunities last weekend, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh in a 4-0 loss to Arizona State and stranding a runner on second with one out in a 2-1 defeat to Arizona. When the Cardinal scored seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-2 victory against Oregon State on Apr. 7, it represented the first time in 2002 that the team had notched a comeback win. And it was about time- Cardinal fans hadn't seen their team rally when trailing after six innings since the 2000 season. Stanford was 0-14 last season when opponents led in the seventh.

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 45 of 46 games, and is hitting .409. She leads the club in runs (49), hits (56), home runs (12), total bases (112), slugging percentage (.818), on base percentage (.506) and stolen bases (22). She was named Co-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. She is currently the all-time Stanford leader in several offensive records: batting average, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, runs scored and stolen bases.

Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters so far. Beeson is leading the club with 37 RBI, and is second on the team in the following categories: batting average (.396), hits (53), on base percentage (.497) and slugging percentage (.560). Beeson has started all 46 games at first base and has hit four home runs. She was recently invited to participate in USA Softball team camp, May 30-June 3 to compete for a spot to represent the U.S. this summer in international competition.

Notes From The Dugout
***Robin Walker has 14 doubles so far this year, twice as many as last season's total of seven. Walker also leads the club with 17 multi-hit games
***Jessica Mendoza currently holds the longest hitting streak of the season at 11 games. She leads the team with 10 multi-RBI games
***Maureen LeCocq has been a valuable asset to the Cardinal lineup this season, having played at five different positions (pitcher, second base, third base, outfield, designated player)
***Outfielder Cassi Brangham has not committed an error in 46 games this season
***Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .038 with the bases empty and .367 with runners on base
***Jessica Mendoza is second on the club with 35 RBI, but is hitting only .167 with the bases loaded
***The team's overall batting average dipped to .280 after batting at a .121 (9-74) clip in three losses to the Arizona schools over the weekend
***Head coach John Rittman is five wins shy of the 250 mark for his career.
***While Stanford has been able to get consistent production from the Nos. 1-5 spots in the lineup, the bottom of the order has been somewhat inconsistent. The following combination has proven to be steady thus far. Record in parantheses indicate team's overall mark in that situation.
No. 6- Maureen LeCocq (16-2)
No. 7- Cassi Brangham (17-1)
No. 8- Leah Nelson (17-5)
No. 9- Jessica Draemel (17-4)

Notes From The Bullpen
***Tori Nyberg, who picked up her 20th win last Tuesday against UC Santa Barbara in the Cardinal's 7-2 win, set a season high and brought her career win total to 32
***Additionally, she has not thrown a wild pitch in 177.2 innings this season
***Cardinal starters Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq have been effective this season, both in different ways. Nyberg has recorded 508 outs (241 ground-ball, 110 fly-ball, 157 strikeout), while LeCocq has registered 346 outs (151 ground-ball, 149 fly-ball, 46 strikeout)
***Both Stanford starters have been awarded the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honor this season, LeCocq (Apr. 1-7) and Nyberg (Feb. 19-24)
***Freshman Elizabeth Bendig, who has worked seven innings in four appearances, notched her first career save in a 7-2 win over UC Santa Barbara last Tuesday

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