Cardinal Heads To NCAA Regionals

May 13, 2003

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It's Finally Here ...
Postseason play has arrived and No. 17 Stanford (40-24, 7-14 Pac-10) will continue its quest for a return trip to the Women's College World Series on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa this weekend. The Cardinal were selected as the No. 2 seed in one of eight NCAA Regional Fields, and is scheduled to square off against UT-Chattanooga, the region's seventh seed, on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Alabama Softball Complex. Stanford, which finished in a sixth place tie with Arizona State, has won four of its last five games heading into NCAA Tournament competition. The Cardinal closed out the regular season by defeating Oregon State last Friday night and splitting a doubleheader with Oregon the following day.

The Road Begins In Tuscaloosa ...
Stanford will be making its sixth overall NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend when it travels to Alabama. The Cardinal, which advanced to its first-ever College World Series in 2001 and finished 1-2 in last year's regional, will be tested on the road. Three nationally-ranked squads (No. 16 Alabama, No. 17 Stanford and No. 24 Southern Illinois) highlight the field along with Atlantic 10 Conference champion Massachusetts, Southern Conference champion UT-Chattanooga and Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern University. Stanford is just one of the newly expanded 64 NCAA Division I Schools selected to compete at eight regional sites for a chance to advance to the College World Series, slated for May 22-26, in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Scouting The Opponents ...
#1 Seed - No. 16 Alabama (45-19, 22-8 SEC) is the regional's host school and highest seed. The Crimson Tide received the Southeastern Conference's automatic bid by winning the SEC Tournament Championship last weekend. Alabama is riding on a four-game winning streak, with two wins over LSU including 3-1 in the title game. Three players are batting over .300 with Jackie McClain leading the way with a .365 average. She has also recorded 17 doubles, seven home runs and 46 RBI. Stephanie VanBrakle and Erin Wright have split the pitching duties, tallying 330 strikeouts.
#3 Seed - Massachusetts (36-13, 11-1 Atlantic 10) won its 16th conference tournament last weekend, advancing to the regionals for the ninth straight year. The Minutewomen defeated Tempe 1-0 to capture the conference crown. Aisha Franke heads the Massachusetts offense, hitting a .420 clip. Emily Robustelli has recorded 14 doubles and 34 RBI. Kaila Holtz has been tough in the circle, holding a 0.90 ERA with 182 k's in 186 innings of work for a 21-7 mark.
#4 Seed - Illinois (38-15-1, 11-7 Big Ten) is making its first-ever regional appearance and enters the week having lost its last two contests in the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. The Illini defeated Minnesota, but fell to Iowa and Michigan State. Rachelle Coriddi (.345) is one of three players batting over .300, while Erin Montgomery has registered 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 38 RBI. Amanda Fortune has seen most of the time in the circle, recording a 24-9 mark and holds a 1.78 ERA.
#5 Seed - Georgia Tech (36-23, 3-4 ACC) earned its second consecutive regional appearance and just its second time in program history. The Jackets have faced 15 teams (in 25 games) already selected for the NCAA Tournament, with 15 of their 23 losses coming to those opponents. Tara Knudsen leads the team with a .306 average, 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 37 RBI. Jessica Sallinger has been a force in the circle, recording 320 strikeouts, holds a 1.20 ERA and a 21-15 mark.
#6 Seed - No. 24 Southern Illinois (36-12, 18-6 MVC) dropped games to Creighton and Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference last weekend, but earned the program's first at-large bid to the regionals. The Salukis are led offensively by Lindsey Bonnell (.315) and Jenny Doehring (.280). Doehring also has 12 doubles and 27 RBI to her credit, while Katie Louis has hit a team-high 11 home runs. In the circle, Amy Harre posts a 1.05 ERA and a 20-9 mark.
#7 Seed - UT-Chattanooga (37-28, 12-8 Southern) earned an automatic bid by winning the Southern Conference Tournament, marking its fourth straight appearance. The Lady Mocs have won seven of their last eight games, the only loss being a 1-0 setback to East Tennessee State in the first championship game. Melissa Ramirez (.388) and Jennifer Reed (.347) are the only players batting over .300. Ramirez has a team-high 19 doubles, 12 home runs and 37 RBI. Awbrey Winckler (1.71 ERA) and Sara Meck (2.15 ERA) have split the pitching duties for a 36-25 mark with 325 k's.
#8 Seed - Southern University (19-10) won its Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament last weekend, receiving an automatic big the NCAA Regionals.

Earlier In The Season ...
Stanford has faced two teams in this weekend's NCAA Regional:Massachusetts - Tori Nyberg picked up her second win in 2003 against the Minutewomen. Nyberg went the distance, recording five shutout innings and allowed only five hits in the 2-1 Stanford victory on Feb. 7 at the ASU Fiesta Bowl Tournament. The Cardinal jumped on the scoreboard first, scoring in the first inning and added an insurance run in the top of the sixth to go up 2-0. Massachusetts started a rally of its own, but only managed one run.
Illinois - Catalina Morris delivered the game-winning double in the seventh inning as Stanford defeated Illinois 7-6 on March 8 in the Speedline Invitational. Stanford exploded for four runs on five hits in the third inning against the Illini, on Kira Ching's two-run double and Jessica Allister's two-run home run. The Cardinal added two more runs in the fourth resulting in a 6-0 advantage. Illinois came back and scored two runs and tied the game with four scores in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Morris smashed her second double of the game to right center scoring Katherine Hoffman for the win. Elizabeth Bendig, Ching and Morris each had two hits in the Cardinal's 11-hit attack. Tori Nyberg got the win, striking out three and scattering six hits.

National Rankings ...
The Cardinal fell two spots from last week's rankings and stand at No. 17 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Poll released May 6. 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. 8 and defending national champion California is ranked 9th. No. 15 Arizona State Stanford is followed by 17th-ranked Stanford and No. 18 Oregon.

Cardinal vs. NCAA Tournament Teams ...
Stanford has faced 25 of the 64 schools competing in this year's NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal holds a 24-22 overall mark against 2003 postseason squads, including the following: Arizona (1-2), Texas A&M (0-1), UCLA (0-3), Georgia (1-1), Fresno State (1-1), Long Beach State (1-1), North Carolina (1-0), Long Island (1-0), Arizona State (1-2), Southwest Texas State (1-0), South Florida (1-0), Oregon State (2-1), Washington (2-1), Nebraska (1-0), Pacific (2-1), CS Fullerton (0-1), Oklahoma State (0-1), Oregon (1-2), San Diego State (1-1), Penn State (2-0), California (0-3), Missouri (1-0), Western Michigan (1-0), Massachusetts (1-0) and Illinois (1-0).

Regional Review ...
The Cardinal will be competing in its sixth NCAA Regional this weekend. Since 1998, Stanford has a 7-9 mark in regional play and stands at 9-11 overall in the postseason. The Cardinal's performance at the 2001 NCAA Regionals was the most impressive in program history, as Stanford was the host site and went 4-1 to advance to the College World Series. Top-seeded Stanford defeated Pacific 9-1 on the final day of Regional competition to earn a trip to Oklahoma City. Last year in Fresno, the Cardinal beat Pacific 7-0 but fell to California (1-0) and CS Fullerton (4-1) to conclude their season at 44-20.

Pac-10 Wrap-Up ...
Stanford concluded the 2003 conference season with a 7-14 record, good for a sixth-place tie with Arizona State. Arizona (19-2) captured conference title honors, edging out defending champion UCLA (17-4). Defending national champion California (10-11) and Oregon (10-11) tied for third, followed by Washington (9-12) in fifth, Stanford and Arizona State in sixth at 7-14 and Oregon State (5-16) rounding out the group.

'LL' Making Her Mark ...
Freshman Lauren Lappin has had a huge impact in her first 58 games as a collegiate softball player. Lappin leads the team with a .339 batting average, recording her first hit as a Cardinal against Massachusetts on Feb. 7. Stanford's hitter has also tallied 31 runs, eight doubles, 15 RBI and holds a .433 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 also hit a team-high .322 with three doubles and five RBI.

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 20-10 on the year, holding a team-low 1.13 ERA, and has struck out 312 batters in 204.1 innings of work. Thus far in the season, Sorensen has 15 double-digit strikeout performances, which leads the Pac-10 and holds a conference-best 10.9 strikeouts per game average. Nationally she ranks fourth with her strikeouts per seven innings average. With her victory at Oregon (5/10) making 20 for the year, Sorensen tied former Cardinal Becky Blevins (1996-1999) for Stanford's career wins with 70. She also set the single season strikeout record with 312 in 2003.

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 122 of the squad's 213 RBI this season. They also have 20 of the team's 33 home runs and 40 of the 76 doubles. Allister leads the team with 40 RBI, followed by Ching's 37 and Brangham's 33. Allister also has 11 home runs and Ching has a team-leading 14 doubles to her name.

Morris On A Tear ...
Freshman Catalina Morris has quietly become one of Stanford's leading hitters this season. Despite missing the last seven games due to injury, the Sonoita, Ariz., native is second on the team with a .335 average and has 10 doubles, seven home runs and 27 RBI to her credit. She 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 in April hit two home runs at Arizona and one vs. Arizona State. Morris has also hit safely in 36 of 57 games, with 16 multiple hit contests.

Nyberg Standing Tall ...
At 5-11, senior pitcher Tori Nyberg has registered 31 starts and has 15 victories to her name in 2003. Nyberg has a 1.78 ERA in 161.0 innings of work. The Belmont, Calif., native has fanned 126 batters and held opponents to a .210 average. At the Stanford Classic, Nyberg fanned a season-high 10 batters against Texas A&M. She is also flexing a conference-best 9.3 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. 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.

Hitting The Books ...
The Cardinal placed two athletes on the 2003 Verizon Academic All-District VII University Division Softball Team. Seniors Cassi Brangham and Tori Nyberg are Stanford's representatives. Brangham, from Clovis, Calif, holds a 3.51 GPA in American Studies, while Nyberg, from Belmont, Calif., has a 3.43 GPA in Psychology.

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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