Cardinal To Face Pacific In Thursday's NCAA Regional Action
May 13, 2002
THIS WEEK IN CARDINAL SOFTBALL:
2002 NCAA Regionals--Thur., May 16- Sun., May 19
Fresno, CA (hosted by Fresno State)--All games played at Bulldog Diamond
#1 seed- (No. 9) Cal State Fullerton Titans...50-11, 22-2 Big West
#2 seed-(No. 8) Stanford Cardinal...43-18, 7-14 Pac-10
#3 seed-(No. 5) California Golden Bears...48-19, 12-9 Pac-10
#4 seed-(No. 14) Fresno State Bulldogs...49-18, 18-6 WAC
#5 seed-(No. 17) Pacific Tigers...42-15, 21-3 Big West
#6 seed-Evansville Purple Aces...34-25, 16-8 Missouri Valley
(national rankings in parantheses)
Games For Thursday, May 16
GAME 1:#1 Cal State Fullerton vs. #6 Evansville- 12 p.m.
GAME 2:#2 Stanford vs. #5 Pacific- 2:30 p.m.
GAME 3:#3 California vs. #4 Fresno State- 5 p.m.
GAME 4:Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2- 7:30 p.m.
Tournament Play Continues Friday, May 17- Sunday, May 19
***Friday's contest will be broadcast live on the internet by KZSU- Stanford's student radio station. Former Cardinal softball standout Ramona Shelburne will handle the broadcast chores.
Postseason play has arrived and No. 8 Stanford (43-18, 7-14 Pac-10) will continue its quest for a return trip to the Women's College World Series on the campus of Fresno State in Fresno, Calif., this weekend. The Cardinal has been tabbed as the No. 2 seed in one of eight NCAA Regional fields, and is scheduled to square off against No. 17 Pacific (42-15, 21-3 Big West), the region's fifth seed, on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. at Bulldog Diamond. Stanford, which finished in a sixth place tie with Oregon State in the conference stadings, has won six of its last 10 games heading into NCAA Tournament competition. The Cardinal closed out the regular season by defeating Oregon State last Friday and splitting a doubleheader with Oregon the following day. Pacific has been a familiar postseason opponent for Stanford, as the Cardinal routed the Tigers 9-1 in last year's NCAA Regional championship at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium to advance to its first-ever College World Series appearance.
The Road Begins In Fresno
Stanford will be making its fifth overall NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend when it travels to Fresno. The Cardinal, which advanced to its first-ever College World Series in 2001, will be tested in this year's regional bracket. Five nationally-ranked squads (No. 9 Cal State Fullerton, No. 5 California, No. 14 Fresno State and No. 17 Pacific) highlight the field along with Missouri Valley Conference champion Evansville. Stanford is just one of 48 NCAA Division 1 schools selected to compete at eight regional sites for a chance to advance to the College World Series, slated for May 23-27, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After hosting an NCAA Regional last season, the Cardinal will be facing an even tougher challenge by starting on the road this year.
A Look At The Field
#5 seed- No. 17 Pacific (42-15, 21-3 Big West) will be Stanford's opening round opponent at 2:30 p.m. when play begins on Thursday. The Tigers took second place in the Big West this year, finishing one game out behind first place Cal State Fullerton. Pacific enters this weekend having won eight of its last 10 contests and has dropped just three games overall since dropping a doubleheader to Washington on Mar. 29. The Tiger offense is led by Barbara Moody (.368, 70 H, 39 R, 37 RBI) and Cindy Ball (.360, 62 H, 11 HR, 46 RBI). In addition to her hitting efforts, Ball has been the top Pacific hurler this season (27-9, 0.85 ERA, 273 K's in 264.1 IP).
#1 seed- No. 9 Cal State Fullerton (50-11, 22-2 Big West) was awarded the top seed in the region and fourth overall. The Titans were crowned Big West champions after dropping just two games in league action. Even more impressive was the 32-game winning streak that the program reeled off from Mar. 1-Apr. 20, which included wins over Ohio State, California, Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona State. CSUF features an offensive lineup which includes Jenny Topping (.485, 63 H, 35 R) and Yasmine Mossadeghi (.362, 59 H, 12 HR, 41 RBI). The arms corps is led by a trio of capable starters: Gina Oaks (20-3, 0.74 ERA, 177 K's in 151.2 IP), Jodie Cox (17-4, 1.50 ERA, 167 K's in 130.1 IP) and Chris Robitaille (13-4, 1.72 ERA, 104 K's in 118.1 IP).
#3 seed- Joining the Cardinal in the regional field will be Pac-10 rival No. 5 California (48-19, 12-9 Pac-10). The Golden Bears concluded the regular season with a three-game sweep of the Oregon schools, but are just 5-5 in their last 10 games. Cal took fourth place conference honors, winding up one game behind Washington. The Golden Bears have five athletes hitting over .300, led by Veronica Nelson (.328, 44 H, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 91 BB) and Candace Harper (.320, 70 H, 41 RBI, 114 TB). The pitching staff centers around Jocelyn Forest (21-12, 1.25 ERA, 315 K's in 224.2 IP), while Jen Deering (13-3, 2.45 ERA, 97.1 IP, 8 CG) has been dependable as well.
#4 seed- No stranger to the postsason, host school No. 14 Fresno State (49-18, 18-6 WAC) checks in as the only program in Division 1 softball to have qualified for all 21 Division 1 NCAA Championships. However, the Bulldogs struggled a bit near the end of the season, splitting four straight conference doubleheaders. Fresno State, 6-4 in its last 10 games, relies heavily on its superb pitching staff. Jamie Southern (32-8, 0.41 ERA, 21 SHO, 380 K's in 327 IP) has been tremendous, and is joined by Leslie Poole (15-6, 1.69 ERA, 137 IP). Senior Lindsay Fossati (.325, 65 H, 15 2B, 30 RBI) is the leader of an offense that is hitting just .251 overall with eight home runs total.
#6 seed- The unranked Evansville Purple Aces (34-25, 16-8 Missouri Valley) are making their first-ever NCAA Regional appearance in school history. The Aces claimed the league title with an upset victory over top-seed Illinois State. Evansville went 7-3 in its last 10 outings down the stretch to claim a berth. Offensively, the Aces are spearheaded by sophomore Emily Winters (.358, 64 H, 29 R) and freshman Brooke Luker (.313, 50 H, 29 RBI). In the circle, the Aces rely on freshmen Casey Clutch (15-13, 1.75, 188 IP) and Katey Markle (15-11, 1.78 ERA, 129 K's in 168.2 IP).
Stanford vs. Postseason Opponents
Stanford has faced five of the six teams in its NCAA regional, excluding Evansville.
CAL STATE FULLERTON: The Cardinal went 3-0 against the Titans this year, with all of those victories coming in tournament play. Stanford edged CSUF 2-1 on Feb. 15 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, and twice at the NFCA Leadoff Classic: 6-1 on Feb. 22 and 1-0 two days later. Stanford is 9-1 all-time against the Titans.
CALIFORNIA: The Golden Bears took two out of three in the season series. Cal scored a 3-2 win in Berkeley on Mar. 29, and the teams split a twinbill the next day with Stanford winning the opener 6-0 and Cal snagging the nightcap 7-6. The Cardinal is just 12-18 in 30 meetings between the two rival programs.
FRESNO STATE: Stanford finished 3-0 against the Bulldogs in 2002. The Cardinal nipped the 'Dogs 1-0 in eight innings at the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Feb. 24, then swept a double-dip at home on Apr. 2 with shutouts of 5-0 and 1-0. In the all-time series, Stanford holds a slim 5-3 advantage.
PACIFIC: In its first road trip of the season, the Cardinal swept a doubleheader with the Tigers in Stockton as Stanford picked up 2-1(9 inning) and 8-2 wins. In 18 total meetings, both teams have won nine games.
EVANSVILLE: Stanford has never faced Evansville in softball.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford remained at No. 8 in the latest USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll, as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. The No. 8 ranking is the lowest for Stanford this year, while the Cardinal has been tabbed as high as No. 2- representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 17-15 against opponents ranked in the top-25, and faces five such squads this weekend. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 California, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Cal State Fullerton and No. 10 Texas.
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, the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year, picked up his 250th career victory in Stanford's 9-1 win over Arizona State on May 3 and has accumulated a 253-118-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.
Cardinal vs. NCAA Tournament Teams
Stanford has faced 17 of the 48 schools competiting in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal holds a 19-15 overall mark against 2002 postseason squads, including the following: UCLA (0-3), Eastern Kentucky (1-0), Arizona (0-3), Penn State (1-0), Arizona State (1-2), Massachusetts (0-1), Mississippi State (1-0), Cal State Fullerton (3-0), California (1-2), Fresno State (3-0), Pacific (2-0), Utah (1-0), Washington (0-3), Nebraska (0-1), Oregon State (3-0), Illinois-Chicago (1-0) and Florida Atlantic (1-0).
The Cardinal will be competing in its fifth NCAA Regional this weekend. Overall, the Red & White have a record of 8-9 in such contests. Stanford's performance at the 2001 NCAA Regionals was its most impressive in program history, as the Cardinal was the host site and went 4-1 to advance the College World Series. Top-seeded Stanford defeated Pacific 9-1 on the final day of Regional competition to earn a trip to Oklahoma City. This year will represent Stanford's second appearance in Fresno during NCAA Regionals, as the Card dropped its first two contests- Pacific (6-5) and Fresno State (5-2)- in 1999 to finish 0-2.
Stanford concluded the 2002 conference season with a 7-14 record, good for a sixth-place tie with Oregon State. UCLA (18-3) captured conference honors, edging out defending-champion Arizona (15-6). Washington (13-8) came in third, followed by California (12-9) in fourth, Arizona State (10-11) in fifth, Stanford and Oregon State in sixth at 7-14 and Oregon (2-19) rounding out the group.
Pac Your Bags
Despite the fact that seven of the eight Pac-10 squads made the 2002 NCAA Championship field- not to mention that all seven of those programs were ranked in the nation's top-15- no team was awarded a host site for NCAA Regionals. This year marks the first since the beginning of Division 1 softball play in 1982 that at least one Pac-10 school will not host a regional. UCLA and Arizona were tabbed as No. 1 seeds but shipped out to South Carolina and Minnesota, respectively. Four schools are No. 2 seeds- Washington (in Ann Arbor, Mich.), Arizona State (in Lafayette, La.), Stanford (in Fresno, Calif.) and Oregon State (in Iowa City, Ia.), while California checks in as the No. 3 seed in Fresno, Calif.
Stanford Takes 2 of 3 From Oregon Schools
STANFORD 10, OREGON 1 (MAY 11, 2002- Game One): Sarah Beeson belted her sixth homer of the season in the bottom of the first, a two-out solo shot to give Stanford a 1-0 lead. The Cardinal struck for three more runs in the second, scoring two runs on the first of three Oregon errors. After the Ducks charged back with a run in the fourth, the Cardinal stormed back with six runs in the fifth inning to earn the mercy-rule victory. Beeson and Kira Ching scored on an outfielder's error and one hitter later, Meghan Sickler plated Cassi Brangham with a fielder's choice for the seventh run. Walker capped the scoring with a three-run homer to left field for a 10-1 Cardinal win.
OREGON 4, STANFORD 0 (MAY 11, 2002- Game Two): Oregon hurler Connie McMurren held the Cardinal offense in check, allowing four hits over seven innings along with two strikeouts for the win in the nightcap. The Ducks broke through with a run in the top of the second, as Lakeesha Everseley came around to score on Rachel Tommasini's sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Oregon tallied an additional run in the fifth inning when Everseley's RBI single plated Lindsay Haij to increase the Duck's advantage to 2-0. In the seventh, Oregon registered two more runs on Mari Lyn Petrick's two-run double to round out the scoring. Stanford managed just four hits in the nightcap, as Mendoza, Beeson, Brangham and Allister all chipped in with singles.
STANFORD 2, OREGON STATE 1 (MAY 10, 2002): Robin Walker's RBI double in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the difference for the Cardinal, who swept the season series with the Beavers. The Cardinal opened the scoring by pushing a run across in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead on the Beavers, courtesy of Kira Ching's RBI single. Oregon State came right back in the top of the fifth with a run of its own to knot the game at 1-1. Stanford answered in the home half of the fifth, tacking on a single run to claim a 2-1 lead. Jessica Draemel reached base on an error with two outs in the inning and came around to score on Walker's RBI double to left. Starter Tori Nyberg (24-9) went the distance for the Cardinal, allowing five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Tigers A Familiar Foe
Stanford's opponent on Thursday will be a familiar one- the Pacific Tigers. In addition to squaring off against the Tigers every year since 1996, the Cardinal swept a doubleheader with UOP earlier this season in Stockton. The two programs battled four times last season, as Stanford swept a doubleheader on Feb. 10 (2-0 and 4-0) before facing the Tigers twice in NCAA Regional competition. Pacific notched a 2-0 win to give Stanford its first Regional loss in 2001, but the Cardinal came back to score a 9-1 triumph for a berth in the College World Series. Stanford and Pacific have met on three occasions in NCAA Regional play, including a 1999 matchup in Fresno which the Tigers claimed a 6-5 victory in the opening contest.
Stanford's Kira Ching has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters down the stretch. She has reached base safely in 10 of the last 12 games and is hitting .405 (15-37) with eight runs scored, 15 RBI and three home runs. Ching, who has set career highs in batting average, runs and home runs this year, is hitting at a .326 clip with 33 runs scored, nine homers and 42 RBI. She has 16 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI games to her credit.
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 60 of 61 games, and is hitting .372. She leads the club in runs (62), hits (67), triples (3), home runs (14), total bases (132), slugging percentage (.733) and stolen bases (28). She is currently the all-time Stanford leader in several offensive records: batting average, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, runs scored and stolen bases.
The squad must develop the ability to rally when down late in the game. Stanford sits at just 1-13 when the opponent leads entering the final frame. When the Cardinal scored seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-2 win at Oregon State on Apr. 7, it was 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.
Notes From The Dugout
***The Cardinal has outscored its opponents 297-128 this season, including a 66-17 edge in the first inning
***Stanford's 10 hits in a 9-1 win over Arizona State on Friday matched the club's total for most hits in a conference game this season (Apr. 5 vs. Oregon, Apr. 6 vs. Oregon State)
***Stanford has an 8-9 mark in one-run games, and is just 2-7 in one-run conference games. In addition, 13 of its 21 Pac-10 bouts have been decided by four runs or less
***Jessica Mendoza currently holds the longest hitting streak of the season at 11 games, and leads the squad with 19 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI games
***Sarah Beeson's .313 average with two outs is tops among starters
***Stanford has not had more than one sacrifice hit in a game all season
***Maureen LeCocq has played at six different positions this year (pitcher, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, designated player)
***Outfielder Cassi Brangham has not committed an error in 61 games this season
***Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .034 with the bases empty and .359 with runners on base
Notes From The Bullpen
***Tori Nyberg has yet to throw a wild pitch in 226.1 innings this season
***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)
***Cardinal starters Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq have been effective this season, both in different ways. Nyberg has recorded 648 outs (296 ground-ball, 154 fly-ball, 198 strikeout), while LeCocq has registered 441 outs (186 ground-ball, 193 fly-ball, 62 strikeout)
***Elizabeth Bendig has been effective in her first season on The Farm, notching two saves along with a 1-0, 3.33 ERA in 21 IP. She has yet to make a start for the Cardinal in 2002