Stanford Travels To NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 19, 2003

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Stanford Heads For Georgia ...
Riding on a seven game winning streak, the 12th-ranked Stanford softball team hopes to keep its winning ways when they compete in the NFCA's eighth annual Leadoff Classic, Feb. 21-23 in Columbus, Ga. The tournament will feature 24 of the nation's top collegiate softball teams, 19 of which competed in NCAA postseason play in 2002. The Leadoff Classic consists of six, four-team pools. Following pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams, will advance to the gold championship bracket. The remaining four second place teams along with four at-large teams will be placed in the silver championship bracket and the remaining eight teams will be assigned to the bronze championship bracket. Stanford's pool consists of Nebraska, North Carolina and Southern Mississippi.

Scouting The Opponents ...
Nebraska, ranked No. 3 in the latest poll, holds a 9-1 record having lost 5-1 to top-ranked UCLA. Lisa Wangler leads the Husker offensive, hitting .441 with four doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI. Peaches James and Summer Tobias have split time in the circle, with Tobias holding a perfect 4-0 record and 1.77 ERA. North Carolina will play a doubleheader with UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday before heading to Columbus. The Tar Heels picked up two wins against Rutgers and Dayton at the Triangle Classic in Raleigh to stand at 3-3. Tiffany Tolleson leads North Carolina with a .526 batting average, while Jaclyn Holden has a team-high eight RBI. Crystal Cox has pitched 16 innings, recording 26 strikeouts for the Tar Heels. Southern Mississippi (4-3) has a single game contest with Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night before the Leadoff Classic. Sarah Boyd (.450) and Amanda Brown (.389) lead the Lady Eagle hitters, both earning all-tournament honors at the Gator Invitational last weekend. Jessica Holaway is 2-2 on the year with two saves and has recorded 20 strikeouts in 27.2 innings of work.

Cardinal History In The Leadoff Classic ...
This season marks the fifth consecutive year that the Stanford softball team has competed in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. In 1999 the Cardinal won the consolation championship of the gold bracket by beating South Carolina 8-0. Stanford claimed the silver division title in 2000 with a 5-2 win over Alabama and in 2001, the Cardinal went undefeated in pool play setting up a gold bracket championship game with the Gamecocks. The contest was called after five innings of play with the score tied at 0-0 due to weather. Last year the Cardinal finished 2-1 in pool play to advance to the gold bracket. Stanford was then crowned the consolation champions with a 1-0 win over Fresno State in eight innings.

Preseason Rankings ...
The Cardinal moved up two spots from debuting at No. 14 and stand at No. 12 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll released Feb. 19. All eight Pac-10 teams are featured in the rankings, led by top-ranked UCLA. Arizona stands at No. 2 and defending national champions California are ranked fourth. Washington checks in as the fifth-ranked team, followed by No. 12 Stanford, No. 14 Arizona State, No. 18 Oregon State and 25th-ranked Oregon.

Recapping The Stanford Invitational ...
The Cardinal finished 5-0 at their tournament to capture the Stanford Invitational title. Stanford cruised to shutout victories in the first day over Penn State (6-0) and Kentucky (8-0) and continued the next with wins over Missouri (5-2) and Penn State (2-1). In the championship game, Dana Sorensen picked up her second win of the year and Michelle Thiry recorded three RBI en route to a 4-1 victory over Kentucky. Catalina Morris (7-for-11) and Lauren Lappin (10-for-16) both had an outstanding weekend offensively, while the Cardinal pitching staff fanned 36 batters in 33 innings. Tori Nyberg and Sorensen each picked up two victories for Stanford in the circle.

'LL' Making Her Mark ...
Freshman Lauren Lappin has had a huge impact in only her first 12 games as a collegiate softball player. Lappin leads the team with a .543 batting average, recording her first hit as a Cardinal against Massachusetts on Feb. 7. Stanford's lead-off hitter has also tallied eight runs, seven RBI and holds a .619 on-base percentage.

Nyberg Standing Tall ...
At 5-11, senior pitcher Tori Nyberg has registered seven starts and has six victories to her name in 2003. Nyberg has a 0.55 ERA, allowing only three earned runs in 38.0 innings of work. The Belmont, Calif., native has fanned 29 batters and held opponents to a .207 average. Last season, Nyberg was Stanford's ace in the circle recording a 26-11 mark with a 1.51 ERA in her first full season as a starter.

Look Who's Back ...
After missing last season due to a knee injury, junior two-time All-American Dana Sorensen saw her first action in more than a year at the ASU Fiesta Bowl Tournament. Sorensen pitched the final inning against UNLV, striking out two batters in her first appearance in 2003. Last weekend Sorensen recorded her first start since Feb. 2, 2002 against Penn State. The San Diego, Calif., native went the distance, striking out eight and allowing only three hits in Stanford's 2-1 win over the Nittany Lions. Sorensen is 2-0 on the year, holding a 0.93 ERA, and has fanned 24 batters in 15 innings of work.

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.

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.

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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