Softball Blanks Pacific 7-0 On Opening Day Of NCAA Regionals

May 16, 2002

FRESNO, Calif. - No. 8 Stanford (44-18, 7-14 Pac-10) blanked No. 17 Pacific (42-16, 21-4 Big West) 7-0 in Thursday's opening round of the 2002 NCAA Regional Tournament in Fresno, Calif. The Cardinal, looking to advance to the College World Series for the second straight season, pounded out 11 hits in the victory and will move on in the winner's bracket.

Junior Kira Ching (San Lorenzo, Calif.) paced the Cardinal offense by going 2-3 with a triple, home run and four RBI. Stanford's Tori Nyberg (Belmont, Calif.) and Maureen LeCocq (Woodland Hills, Calif.) combined on the three-hit shutout.

'I believe our team is very well prepared for this weekend,' said Stanford head coach John Rittman. 'Today was a good win and we'll enjoy it for a little while. At the same time, I think this team is mature enough to recognize that this is a long tournament and we need to keep playing well if we expect to win.'

Stanford broke through with three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take an early 3-0 advantage. Seniors Robin Walker (La Palma, Calif.) and Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) opened the frame with back-to-back singles and came around to score on junior Ching's one-out triple. Cassi Brangham (Clovis, Calif.) followed with a walk, and Jessica Allister (Nacogdoches, Texas) singled through the middle to drive home Ching for a 3-0 Cardinal lead. Stanford would proceed to load the bases with one out, but fail to score.

The Cardinal tacked on two more runs in the fourth, courtesy of a two-out RBI single by Brangham. Mendoza and Sarah Beeson (Tucson, Ariz.) recorded consecutive singles with one out in the inning, and both runners advanced one base on Ching's fly ball to left. Brangham then lined a single through the right side of the infield to plate both runners for a 5-0 Cardinal lead.

After Nyberg (26-9) held the Tigers hitless over the first four innings, LeCocq came in to relieve the Cardinal starter. Pacific's first two hitters of the inning reached base with back-to-back singles, but LeCocq was able to settle down and retire the next three batters- two via the strikeout. LeCocq earned her second save by working three shutout innings.

Ching's two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the sixth would round out the scoring for Stanford, which defeated Pacific for the third time this season. The Cardinal swept a doubleheader with the Tigers (2-1 and 8-2) in Stockton back on Feb. 9.

With the victory, Stanford advances to Friday's 5 p.m. contest where it will face the winner of Thursday night's first round matchup between California and Fresno State.

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