Stanford Softball Hosts Pacific On Saturday

Jan. 29, 2003

Stanford, Calif. -

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And They're Off ...
The 14th-ranked Stanford softball team will open its 2003 campaign with a doubleheader against the University of Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 1. Game time is set for 12 p.m. at the Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal are coming off their fifth consecutive 40-win season after concluding last year with a 44-20 overall mark. Stanford swept Santa Clara last year in its home opener, leading to an 11-game winning streak to start the 2002 season.

Looking Back At 2002 ...
Despite not reaching the College World Series in 2002, the Stanford softball team still had plenty to be proud of. The Cardinal concluded last season with a 44-20 overall record, recording their fifth consecutive 40-win season, and advanced to the postseason for the fifth straight year. The club finished in sixth place in the Pac-10, sporting a 7-14 conference ledger. The 2002 squad also remained among the nation's top-10 throughout the season and peaked as high as No. 2 - the highest ranking in program history. Stanford won 16 games in a row at one point, and opened the season by winning its first 11 contests. The Cardinal finished with a 1-2 mark at the NCAA Regionals in Fresno, which featured five teams ranked in the nation's top-20.

Preseason Rankings ...
The Cardinal debuted at No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Preseason Poll released Jan. 29. Seven Pac-10 teams are featured in the rankings, led by top-ranked UCLA. Arizona and defending national champions California round out the top-three. Washington checks in as the sixth-ranked team, followed by No. 13 Arizona State, No. 14 Stanford and 23rd-ranked Oregon State. As of right now, the Cardinal are scheduled to face 13 of the top-25 teams.

Scouting Pacific ...
Saturday's game will be the season-opener for the Tigers. Pacific received a No. 21 ranking in the 2003 preseason poll after advancing to NCAA Regional competition last year for the fourth time in five seasons. The Tigers also recorded their seventh consecutive winning campaign. Senior Barbara Moody led the club last year with a .352 batting average and needs just eight doubles to become the Big West Conference career leader. Senior Estee Okumura collected 39 RBI last season and is just 18 shy of becoming Pacific's career RBI leader. Brian Kolze is in his 11th season as head coach of the Tiger softball program. The winningest coach in program history, he owns a 314-247-1 overall record and last season he became the first coach to reach the 300-win plateau.

411 On The Series ...
Pacific leads the all-time series 17-10, but Stanford has won each of the last four and eight of the last nine meetings in the series. Most recently, the Cardinal defeated the Tigers 7-0 in the first game of the 2002 NCAA Regional at Fresno. In the team's doubleheader last year, Stanford swept Pacific in Stockton 2-1 in nine innings and 8-2 in the nightcap.

Cardinal Picked Fourth In Pac-10 Preseason Poll ...
Stanford was tabbed to finish fourth in the conference as selected by the Pac-10 coaches in the annual preseason poll. UCLA, the 2002 conference champion, was picked as the top team in 2003. The Cardinal garnered 30 points to tie California for fourth place. Arizona was chosen to finish second, followed by Washington, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State, Oregon State and Oregon. The Pac-10 placed seven of its eight squads in the NCAA Tournament last season, with four teams advancing to the World Series.

Welcome To The Farm ...
Stanford has a solid freshmen class of four players coming in this season. Infielder Megan Bordelon (Laguna Niguel, CA), shortstop Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, CA), outfielder Catalina Morris (Sonoita, AZ) and pitcher Laura Severson (Frankfort, IL) will all see their first action in the Cardinal and White this spring. Stanford also welcomes sophomore outfielder Katherine Hoffman (Kansas City, MO), who joins the squad after running for the Cardinal cross country team in 2000.

2002 Region And Conference Selections Return ...
Senior second baseman Kira Ching returns for her final season after earning NFCA Pacific First Team All-Region honors. Ching finished with a .326 batting average, 11 doubles, 10 home runs and led the team with 46 RBI. Stanford has the services of three All-Pac-10 selections in 2003. Senior Tori Nyberg made the conference's second team after posting an 26-11 record and a 1.51 ERA last season. Junior catcher Jessica Allister and Ching were named to the Honorable Mention team. Allister was one of only three Cardinal to start all 64 contests in 2002 and finished with a .272 clip and 41 RBI.

Back On The Mound ...
One of the main reasons for the Cardinal's success in 2002 was the emergence of Tori Nyberg in the circle. As Stanford's staff ace, Nyberg went a career-best 26-11 with a 1.51 ERA in her first full season as a starter. She tossed seven shutouts and 26 complete games, and allowed just 161 hits in 240.1 innings of work with 203 strikeouts. Nyberg went the whole year without throwing a wild pitch and held opponents to a .188 batting average.

Cha-Ching ...
Stanford's Kira Ching had perhaps the best second half of any other Cardinal players in 2002. Ching, an all-tournament selection at NCAA Regionals, notched career-high bests in several offensive categories including batting average (.326), runs scored (35), home runs (10), hits (60) and RBI (46). The starting second baseman had the second-highest batting average during regionals (.333), with a home run, four RBI and eight total bases. Ching also chalked up 17 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI contest to her credit in 2002.

The Rittman File ...
John Rittman begins his seventh season at the helm of the Stanford women's softball program after being named head coach on July 12, 1996. Rittman's 2002 squad finished 44-20 overall and earned a sixth place finish in the Pac-10 at 7-14. The 2001 season was the most impressive campaign under Rittman's tenure, as the Cardinal finished with its best single-season overall record at 56-16-1. 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, 2002 and has accumulated a 254-120-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.

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