Stanford Heads To Florida For Speedline Invitational

March 4, 2003

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Heading To The Speedline ...
After a tough weekend in the Stanford Classic and a third place finish, the 11th-ranked Cardinal softball team looks to get back on track in their final preseason tournament in Tampa, Fla. The 2001 and 2002 Speedline Invitational champions, will try to make it three consecutive this weekend. Stanford is scheduled to open play on Thursday against Coastal Carolina and Western Michigan, and Friday will feature matchups with host South Florida and Long Island. The Cardinal has a contest with Illinois on Saturday before beginning tournament play, continuing through Sunday. Stanford, 14-6, is coming off a 2-3 weekend and has dropped four of its last six games, three of the four to ranked teams.

411 On The Invitational ...
The Speedline field includes 24 teams overall, playing in four pools. The tournament is round-robin format for seeding purposes with the single elimination championship round starting on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. The championship round of the tournament will include the top three seeds from each pool. The fourth seed will advance to a consolation round of the tournament. Of the 24 teams traveling to Plant City Stadium this weekend, seven have been mentioned in at least one of last week's top 25 polls. No. 4 Washington leads the field in the polls, while Stanford, the winner of last years Speedline, comes in ranked at number 11. The Speedline Tournament begins on Thursday, March 6 in Plant City at 10:00 a.m. and concludes with the championship game scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 9.

Cardinal History In The Speedline ...
Stanford will try to win three consecutive Speedline Invitationals this weekend, after capturing titles in 2001 and 2002. Kira Ching roped a double to score Jessica Mendoza in a 1-0 victory over Texas Tech in the 2001 title game. Stanford posted a 7-1 record that weekend, including six shutouts. Last year the Cardinal rolled to a 4-0 win over Florida Atlantic in the championship game. Stanford returned to The Farm with seven wins and outscored opponents 48-7 in the 2002 tournament.

National Rankings ...
The Cardinal moved up one spot from last week's rankings and stand at No. 11 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll released Feb. 26. All eight Pac-10 teams are featured in the rankings, led by top-ranked UCLA. Arizona stands at No. 2, Washington No. 4 and defending national champion California is ranked sixth. No. 10 Arizona State is followed by 11th-ranked Stanford, No. 17 Oregon State and 23rd-ranked Oregon.

Recapping The Stanford Classic ...
The Cardinal went 2-3 last weekend in their first-ever Stanford Classic at the Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. Stanford was handed a 2-0 defeat to Long Beach State in its first game of the tournament, but rebounded against No. 12 Georgia (2-0) behind junior pitcher Dana Sorensen, who threw her first career no-hitter and finished with 15 strikeouts. Stanford dropped two contests on Saturday, 7-3 to No. 21 Texas A&M and 2-0 to the Bulldogs. The Cardinal then beat the 49ers 3-2 on Sunday, to take third place in the classic. Stanford struggled offensively, hitting .165 on the weekend and scoring only eight runs in five games. Elizabeth Bendig led the offense, going 3-for-9 with a double. Catalina Morris accounted for three of the team's seven RBI on the weekend, while Jessica Allister hit her third bomb of the season against the Aggies. Sorensen picked up both of the Cardinal's wins this weekend, striking out 29 and allowing six hits in 18 innings of work.

'LL' Making Her Mark ...
Freshman Lauren Lappin has had a huge impact in only her first 20 games as a collegiate softball player. Lappin leads the team with a .400 batting average, recording her first hit as a Cardinal against Massachusetts on Feb. 7. Stanford's lead-off hitter has also tallied 13 runs, three doubles, eight RBI and holds a .486 on-base percentage. Lappin hit her first career home run against North Carolina at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, a solo shot over the left field fence.

Nyberg Standing Tall ...
At 5-11, senior pitcher Tori Nyberg has registered 12 starts and has seven victories to her name in 2003. Nyberg has a 1.38 ERA, 12 earned runs in 60.2 innings of work. The Belmont, Calif., native has fanned 55 batters and held opponents to a .211 average. At the Stanford Classic, Nyberg fanned a season-high 10 batters against Texas A&M. 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. On Feb. 14, 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. Last week at the Stanford Classic, she threw her first career no-hitter against No. 12 Georgia and fanned 15 batters. Sorensen is now 5-1 on the year, holding a team-leading 0.63 ERA, and has struck out 74 batters in 44.1 innings of work. At the NFCA Leadoff Classic against No. 3 Nebraska, Sorensen also recorded 11 strikeouts in the final five innings and did not allow a Husker on base.

Meghan's Making Her Mark ...
Sophomore right fielder Meghan Sickler has quietly become one of Stanford's leading hitters this season. The Houston, Tex., native is second on the team with a .289 average. In the No. 9 spot last weekend, Sickler went a perfect 3-for-3 against Long Beach State in the third place game.

Call Her Clutch ...
Sophomore Michelle Thiry is fourth on the team with a .269 batting average primarily as a designated player or pinch-hitter. She as two doubles, one home run and seven RBI to her name in 2003. Thiry is 1-for-3 as a pinch-hitter and 4-for-10 (.400) with runners in scoring position. The Washington native is also successful in advancing base runners 50% of the time.

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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