Stanford Hosts Saint Mary's On Wednesday

April 29, 2003

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This Week's Action ...
Stanford will take a break from Pac-10 Conference play this week to host Saint Mary's on Wednesday night. The single game will begin at 7 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal, coming off two tough one-run losses at No. 2 UCLA, stand at 35-20 overall and 5-10 in the league. Stanford will also host its final conference games this weekend against the Arizona schools. ASU comes to town on Friday night, and the top-ranked Wildcats make a visit on Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).

Scouting The Opponent ...
Saint Mary's will host a doubleheader with Santa Clara on Tuesday afternoon before coming to The Farm. The Gaels, 23-21 overall, went 3-1 last week, taking three games and dropping one against Pacific Coast Softball Conference opponent San Diego. Saint Mary's won the first three games of the four-game series by scores of 3-2, 9-1 and 4-1 before dropping the final contest 7-1. Junior designated hitter Jennifer Arnold recorded her sixth home run of the season last weekend, setting the Gael's single season record. Claudia Williams heads the SMC offense with a .323 batting average including six doubles, five home runs and 26 RBI. Jennifer Eaton (12-10) and Jordan Larsen (10-10) have split the pitching duties, combining for 149 strikeouts. Trisha Dean, a former Saint Mary's softball player, enters her second season as head coach of the Gaels.

National Rankings ...
The Cardinal moved up one spot from last week's rankings and stand at No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll released April 29. Oregon State dropped out of the poll but the rest of the Pac-10 teams are featured in the rankings, including the top two teams, led by top-ranked Arizona. UCLA stands at No. 2, Washington No. 5 and defending national champion California is ranked 9th. No. 15 Stanford is followed by 16th-ranked Arizona State and No. 21 Oregon.

Recapping Last Weekend ...
Stanford defeated Washington 8-0 in five innings last Friday afternoon at the Husky Softball Stadium. The Cardinal scored eight runs on eight hits to win the three-game series two games to one. Stanford was led offensively by Kira Ching who went 2-for-3, including a three-run double in the first inning. The Cardinal added another run in the second with a solo home run by Jessica Allister and four more in the third on two hits and two Husky errors. Dana Sorensen notched her 17th win of the season as she held Washington to three hits and struck out five. Lauren Lappin, Ching and Allister each finished with two hits to lead the Stanford offense.

A two-out sixth inning double by Toria Auelua gave the Bruins the run they needed to defeat Stanford by a score of 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Easton Stadium. UCLA broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Emily Zaplatosch drew a walk to score on a double by Auelua. The hit was just UCLA's second of the day, but was enough to secure the victory for the Bruins. Tori Nyberg took the loss for Stanford to fall to 14-9 on the year, despite throwing a two-hitter in the contest. The Cardinal outhit UCLA 6-2, led by Cassi Brangham's 2-for-3 performance at the plate.

For the second consecutive day, Stanford dropped a one-run heartbreaker at No. 2 UCLA. This time Natasha Watley hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Bruins defeated the Cardinal 3-2 on Sunday afternoon at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles. Both teams were held scoreless through the first two innings, but the Cardinal jumped on the board first in the third. Pinch runner Heather Shook scored the game's first run on Catalina Morris' sacrifice fly to left field. UCLA followed with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning for the 1-1 tie. Allister gave Stanford the 2-1 lead when she led off the fifth with a solo home run to left field. The Bruins answered right back with homer from Watley in the bottom of the inning. Stanford threatened in the sixth when Ching smashed a double off the wall in right center, but Leah Nelson was gunned down at the plate trying to score from first. The game went extra frames when either team could push a run across in the seventh. Stanford got an opportunity in the top of the eighth but could not score. Watley then took a 1-1 pitch from Sorensen over the center field wall to win the game for UCLA in the bottom of the eighth. For the second straight game, Stanford outhit the Bruins 6-3 but stranded nine base runners to UCLA's four. Ching led all hitters with a 3-for-4 outing, including a double. Sorensen took the loss for Stanford (17-8), striking out 12 Bruin batters and scattering three hits.

'LL' Making Her Mark ...
Freshman Lauren Lappin has had a huge impact in only her first 50 games as a collegiate softball player. Lappin leads the team with a .376 batting average, recording her first hit as a Cardinal against Massachusetts on Feb. 7. Stanford's hitter has also tallied 29 runs, eight doubles, 15 RBI and holds a .446 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 and since has two on the year. She had a 12-game hitting streak from March 29 vs. Washington to April 13 and has tallied 18 multiple hit games. In conference play, Lappin is also hitting a team-high .378 with three doubles.

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. At the Stanford Classic, she threw her first career no-hitter against No. 12 Georgia (2/28) and fanned 15 batters. She also had a huge weekend at the Speedline Invitational, striking out 55 in 29 innings, including a one-hit 14 k's in the team's upset of Washington (3-1) and earned the tournament's Most Valuable Pitcher honor. Against the Huskies (3/30) she recorded her second no-hitter of the year, finishing with 11 strikeouts. Sorensen is now 17-8 on the year, holding a team-low 1.12 ERA, and has struck out 274 batters in 175.1 innings of work. Thus far in the season, Sorensen has 13 double-digit strikeout performances, which leads the Pac-10 and holds a conference-best 11.15 strikeouts per game average. Nationally she ranks fourth with her strikeouts per seven innings average. With her 17 victories thus far on the year, Sorensen is three away from tying Stanford's career win mark (70) with 67 to date.

Upperclassmen Stepping It Up ...
Stanford's senior and junior class of Jessica Allister, Cassi Brangham, Kira Ching and Maureen LeCocq are the heart of the team's lineup. All together, they have recorded 107 of the squad's 191 RBI this season. They also have 17 of the team's 30 home runs and 35 of the 71 doubles. Ching leads the team with 33 RBI, followed by Allister's 32 and Brangham's 31. Allister also has eight home runs and Ching has a team-leading 13 doubles to her name.

Morris On A Tear ...
Freshman Catalina Morris has quietly become one of Stanford's leading hitters this season. The Sonoita, Ariz., native is second on the team with a .346 average and has 10 doubles, seven home runs and 27 RBI to her credit. She has also delivered in the clutch, going 6-for-13 when a runner is on third base. Morris also has two game-winning hits thus far in her young career and leads the team with 11 stolen bases. Earlier in the season she posted a seven-game hitting streak in February, and most recently hit two home runs at Arizona and one vs. Arizona State. Morris has also hit safely in 35 of Stanford's 55 games.

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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