No. 5/6 Stanford Opens Pac-10 Play At No. 2/3 UCLA, No. 14 Washington

March 29, 2006

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COMING UP: No. 5/6 Stanford Softball (26-4) will open Pac-10 Conference action this weekend at No. 2/3 UCLA and No. 14 Washington. The Cardinal will first face the Bruins in Los Angeles on Friday, March 31 (1:00 pm). Stanford will then travel to Seattle to take on the Huskies on Saturday, April 1 (2:00 pm) and Sunday, April 2 (1:00 pm). The Cardinal's first game against Washington will be televised live on Fox Sports Northwest.

STANFORD REMAINS UNDEFEATED AT HOME: The Cardinal won four straight games last weekend at the Stanford Invitational II, including wins over Illinois, Princeton and UC Davis, to remain undefeated at home. In the first of two games against UC Davis on Sunday, junior Lindsay Key hit Stanford's first grand slam of the season to end the game in the sixth inning. Junior Jackie Rinehart led the squad with a .615 average over the weekend, including three runs and three RBI. Freshman Missy Penna and sophomore Becky McCullough each went 2-0 in the circle, with Penna pitching her first no-hitter against the Aggies.

NO. 2/3 UCLA BRUINS: UCLA has accumulated a 28-2 record and for a brief time claimed the top spot in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA polls (3/22). The Bruins have only dropped two games this season to Long Beach State (2/15) and No. 16 Northwestern (3/26). Senior Caitlin Benyi leads the UCLA squad in hitting with 19 runs, 20 RBI and seven home runs for a .367 average this year. Sophomore Anjelica Selden is 15-2 in the circle with a 0.43 ERA, while junior Lisa Dodd is 13-0 with a 1.14 ERA. UCLA leads the all-time series against the Cardinal, 32-9, with Stanford winning two of three conference games last season. As a team, the Bruins are hitting .301 with a 0.75 ERA and .963 fielding percentage.

NO. 14 WASHINGTON HUSKIES: The Huskies are 25-8 heading into conference play, winning two games over Pacific and one over Nevada last week in Stockton. Washington went 6-2 during its eight-day road trip to California. Sophomore Ashley Charters leads the Husky hitters with a .459 average, 30 runs, 19 RBI and one home run. In the circle, freshman Danielle Lawrie is 14-5 with a 1.80 ERA, while sophomore Caitlin Noble is 11-3 with a .174 ERA. Washington leads the all-time series against Stanford, 25-15, with the Cardinal winning two of three games last season against the Huskies. Washington is hitting .308 as a team with a 1.77 ERA and .976 fielding percentage.

RECORD REVIEW: Freshmen pitcher Missy Penna came close to Dana Sorensen's single-game strike out record (16) earlier in the year against Nevada, tallying 13 strikeouts. Penna has totalled 115 strikeouts in 18 appearances, putting her near the all-time top-10 list with at least 26 games to play. Fellow newcomer Maddy Coon has homered nine times this year, one home run out of the all-time top-10 list. Sophomore Anna Beardman has collected four triples thus far, tying her for second on the all-time list for a single season.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST: The Amateur Softball Association announced its initial watch list on February 2 for the 5th annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Seniors Lauren Lappin and Catalina Morris and junior Jackie Rinehart have been named to the Watch List. A list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 10, followed by a list of three finalists to be announced May 31. The winner will be announced during the WCWS in Oklahoma City.

NATIONAL POLL: Arizona bounced back to the top spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll with 495 points, but only climbed to third in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Texas took over the top ranking in the USA Today/NFCA poll with 724 points, followed by UCLA with 720. The Bruins also dipped down to third in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll after topping both polls last week. Stanford fell one spot in the USA Today/NFCA poll to sixth with 621 points.

PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL: Stanford was selected by conference coaches in the preseason poll to finish third in the Pac-10 this season. UCLA earned seven first-place votes to take the top spot, followed by Arizona in second with one first-place vote. Bay Area rival California is ranked fourth in the conference. UCLA, Arizona and California all advanced to the WCWS in 2005, with UCLA losing to Michigan in the championship series. 2005 marked the 19th-straight season in which a Pac-10 team played in the WCWS championship game.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: Now in his tenth season on The Farm, head coach John Rittman has tallied a 388-181-1 overall record (nine full seasons) and coached his team to the school's first-ever conference championship last season. Rittman recently celebrated his 400th career win against Maryland at the Palm Springs Classic. In 2004, Rittman was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year and went on to help coach Team USA to a gold medal at the Athens Summer Olympics.

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