Cardinal Hosts Stanford Invitational

Feb. 14, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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THIS WEEKEND: The Stanford softball team continues its first home stretch this weekend, hosting the first of two Stanford Invitationals, Friday through Sunday. In addition to the Cardinal, the tournament will feature Santa Clara, Pacific and Missouri. The tournament kicks off with a 10 a.m. contest between Pacific and Santa Clara and concludes with the championship game on Sunday at noon. Stanford's first game of the tournament is set for Friday at 2 p.m. against Santa Clara.

ON DECK: Stanford heads to Miami, Fla. for the FIU Adidas Invitational, Feb 22-25. The Cardinal will play five games, including meetings with Florida International, Texas State, Purdue and Syracuse. Action begins with a 7 p.m. contest with host FIU on Feb. 22.

SEASON TO DATE: The Cardinal went 3-2 at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. this weekend. On Friday, the team bested Western Michigan, 11-1, in five innings and topped Utah, 5-2, behind a home run by freshman Rosey Neill. On Saturday, the Cardinal was edged by No. 4 Northwestern, 3-1, despite a school record 16 strikeouts by sophomore Missy Penna. In the second game of the day, No. 17/18 Texas used a four-run first inning to top the Cardinal, 7-6. On Sunday, Erin Howe blasted a grand slam home run and Stanford cruised past Northwestern State, 8-0, in six innings. In the team's home opener on Tuesday, Stanford blew by Sacramento State, 13-2.

ROOKIE WATCH: Four Cardinal freshmen made their collegiate debuts at the Kajikawa Classic last weekend. Alissa Haber started all five games in center field, and notched seven hits in 16 at bats. The Newark, Calif. native's first collegiate hit was a fourth-inning double to right field. On Saturday, Haber posted two of the team's three hits against Northwestern, including a solo home run in the sixth inning. She continued her success against Texas, with a team-leading three hits in five tries. Haber added another pair of hits in Tuesday's home opener, going 2-for-3 against Sacramento State. She currently boasts a .474 average and leads the team with nine hits. Fellow freshman Rosey Neill has started all six games behind the plate for the Cardinal, caught three runners stealing and drilled a shot to right center field for her first collegiate home run. Michelle Schroeder and Shannon Koplitz have both made multiple appearances for the Cardinal, and scored a combined six runs.

IT'S RAINING K'S: Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna tied a school record with 16 strikeouts against No. 4 Northwestern on Saturday. The Miami, Fla. native struck out the side in three of the seven innings and retired at least two batters in six innings. The 16 K's were the most since Dana Sorensen registered 16 against New Mexico on Feb. 16, 2001. Penna finished the weekend with 32 strikeouts and a 1.67 ERA. After picking up another win against Sacramento State on Tuesday, she now boasts a 3-1 record.

SENDING IT DEEP: As a team, Stanford recorded six long balls in five games at the Kajikawa Classic. Junior Erin Howe was responsible for two of the blasts, including a grand slam against Northwestern State. Maddy Coon and Anna Beardman launched their tenth and fourth career home runs, respectively, and freshmen Alissa Haber and Rosey Neill notched their first. Last season, Coon led the team with nine home runs and the Cardinal tallied 28 as a team.

HOWE COMES UP BIG: Stanford junior Erin Howe collected six hits and led the team with nine RBI over the weekend. In just the first weekend of action, she doubled her 2006 home run total and collected nearly half of her 2006 RBI total. Howe finished the weekend with a .429 batting average, while starting all five games at first base.

TRIPLE TIME: Anna Beardman tallied her seventh career triple on Tuesday, with a third-inning hit through the left side. Beardman finished 2006 second on the single-season triple chart last year, with five. All of the junior's hits this season have been for extra bases, and she has driven in four Cardinal runs.

SCOUTING THE SANTA CLARA BRONCOS: Santa Clara finished the 2006 season third in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference with a 24-34 record. For 2007, the team has added young talent, including freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Rauschnot and catcher Emily Batt. Center fielder Angela Kabanuck is the top returning offensive player for the Broncos, finishing 2006 with a .284 average and 12 doubles. The Broncos have dropped their first five contests this season and have been led by the bats of Kabanuck and junior Ashley Blier, with five hits and three hits respectively. Freshman Jennifer Clarke led the team in its most recent outing with Fresno State, going 3-for-4 with two doubles.

SCOUTING THE MISSOURI TIGERS: Missouri returns eight of nine starters to a team that finished 2006 with a 26-27 overall record and placed seventh in the Big 12 Conference. So far this season, the squad is 4-3 and has been led by senior Kathy Masterson with a .563 average, two doubles and two triples. Sophomore Andee Allen, senior Leanne Bowers and junior Micaela Minner have five RBI apiece and have combined for 22 hits. The top pitcher for the Tigers is sophomore Megan Dennis with a 3.09 ERA and a shutout against UMKC.

SCOUTING THE PACIFIC TIGERS: Pacific has started the 2007 season 5-0, with a series of wins at the Alexis Park Kickoff Tournament in Las Vegas. The Tigers finished 2006 with a 26-25 record and placed sixth in the Big West. Twelve letterwinners and six starters return, led by Big West Player of the Year Gina Carbonatto. Carbonatto hit .403 last season, while fellow senior Jennifer Curtier hit .350. This season, 10 players are hitting over .300 and four are hitting over .500. Curtier leads the way with 10 hits in 17 at bats, five doubles and 10 RBI. Carbonatto is close behind with a .526 average and eight RBI. Alyce Jorgenson is currently the top pitcher for the Tigers, with two wins, 11 strikeouts and a 3.15 ERA.

THE 2007 CARDINAL: Stanford returns ten letterwinners to the field in 2007, and adds four new faces. Seven starters return for the Cardinal, including three players who hit over .300 last season. Infielders Maddy Coon and Michelle Smith, outfielder Jackie Rinehart and pitchers Becky McCullough and Missy Penna make up a group of solid returning All-Conference performers. Coon led the team with nine homeruns last season, while hitting .353, and Rinehart started all 60 games and was one of the squad's top three offensive players. Smith set the single-season homerun mark in 2005, while McCullough and Penna combined for 32 wins and 252 strikeouts last season. This year, Stanford will be looking for its tenth consecutive 40-win season and its tenth-straight trip to the postseason.

2006 IN REVIEW: The Cardinal is coming off of a successful 2006 season, during which the squad posted a 42-18 record and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Stanford closed out the regular season with a home Pac-10 sweep, topping Washington and posting a pair of upsets over UCLA. The Cardinal went 4-1 in its first postseason weekend to claim the Region VI Championship and advance to the NCAA Super Regional. The Cardinal fell to Alabama, 4-1, in the first game, before dropping an 8-7 decision in extra innings to end the season. Shortstop Lauren Lappin was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, and Lappin and Catalina Morris were named to the All-Conference First Team. Maddy Coon earned Second Team honors, while Becky McCullough, Missy Penna, Jackie Rinehart and Michelle Smith earned Honorable Mention. Morris was named to the All-Regional First Team, while Lappin was an All-Regional Second Team honoree.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Head Coach John Rittman has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Nine Cardinal opponents appear in the preseason top-25, and 15 participated in the NCAA Championship last season.

COON, RINEHART NAMED TO TOP-50 WATCH LIST: Sophomore Maddy Coon and senior Jackie Rinehart were among the players listed on the Top-50 Watch List for the 6th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, the award is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The 2007 Preseason Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 33 schools and 11 different NCAA Division I Conferences.

NATIONAL POLLS: The first weekend of action saw a shake-up in both the USA Today/NFCA Poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll. Tennessee moved into the top spot in both polls, followed by the Pac-10's Arizona State. The Cardinal fell from No. 8/9 last week to the No. 12/13 spot.

CONFERENCE RANKINGS: Stanford has been selected by conference coaches to finish fifth in the Pac-10 this season. Arizona, the defending National Champion, earned five first-place votes to take the top spot, followed by UCLA, the defending Pac-10 Champion, with three first-place votes. Arizona State came in third in the poll, followed by Oregon State and the Cardinal. The Pac-10 set a record in 2006 with seven teams, including Stanford, winning NCAA Regionals. Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington all advanced to Super Regionals last season, with the Wildcats, Sun Devils, Beavers and Bruins moving on to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Pac-10 teams represented half of last year's WCWS field, the most of any conference in the nation.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: Beginning his 11th season at Stanford, Head Coach John Rittman has accumulated a 430-199-1 (.683) record on the Farm and brought Stanford softball from a non-scholarship club-level program to a fully-funded championship contender. He has coached the team to nine consecutive 40-win seasons and nine-straight postseason appearances. Under Rittman, Stanford has claimed a share of its first conference championship and made two appearances in the Women's College World Series.

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