No. 8/11 Stanford Looks to Continue Streak at FIU/Adidas Invitational

Feb. 20, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK: The Stanford softball team hits the road this week, traveling to Miami, Fla. to participate in the FIU/Adidas Invitational. On Thursday night, Stanford kicks off the weekend with a 7 p.m. contest against host Florida International, and follows with a 3 p.m. meeting with Texas State on Friday. On Saturday, the Cardinal will take on Purdue at 9 a.m. and Syracuse at 3 p.m. The team will close out the tournament on Sunday with an opponent to be determined.

ON DECK: Stanford will remain on the road Mar. 2-4, competing in the Worth Classic in Fullerton, Calif. In the course of the tournament, the Cardinal will get a re-match with No. 7/12 Northwestern and battle Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, Texas Tech and Minnesota.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 9-2 so far in 2007, and has won seven-straight games. The Cardinal opened the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. Feb. 9-11 and went 3-2, with a trio of solid wins and a pair of losses to No. 4/4 Northwestern and No. 17/18 Texas. Stanford closed out the weekend with a decisive win over Northwestern State, however, and came home to dominate six games on its home field. After topping Sacramento State in the home-opener, the Cardinal went a perfect 5-0 and shutout two opponents at the Stanford Invitational to claim the tournament championship.

DRIVIN' `EM IN: Freshman Rosey Neill led the team with eight RBI this weekend, heating up at the plate in the last four games of the tournament. In those games, Neill tallied five hits on ten tries and drove in seven of her eight RBI. She stepped up against Pacific and cracked her first collegiate double in the sixth inning and, in the tournament championship, tied the game in the fifth inning with a solo homerun to left center field. Overall, Neill is tied for second on the team with 10 RBI and is one of the most consistent players to get on base. Teammate Maddy Coon leads the team with 13 RBI, after driving in three with the game-winning homerun against Missouri on Sunday.

IN THE CIRCLE: Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna increased her record to 6-1 this week, collecting four wins and shutting out two opponents. The Miami, Fla. native gave up just three runs in 24.2 innings and struck out 30 batters, including 11 against Missouri on Friday. Penna led the Cardinal to the Stanford Invitational Championship, pitching three complete games and finishing the weekend with a .33 ERA. Penna now has 61 strikeouts on the year. Junior Becky McCullough also had a successful weekend in the circle for Stanford. The Moraga, Calif. native pitched two complete games, gave up just one earned run and picked up her second and third wins of the season.

DOUBLE DUTY: Stanford cracked eight doubles this weekend at the Stanford Invitational, three of which came off the bat of freshman Alissa Haber. Just two weeks into her freshman season, Haber stands second on the team with four doubles and has the top batting average among Stanford starters (.429). Sophomore Maddy Coon, who led the team with 13 doubles last season, currently leads the Cardinal with six doubles.

AGGABAO FINDS HER STRIDE: Junior Tricia Aggabao showed opponents just how dangerous she can be at the plate this weekend. After starting the season 1-13, Aggabao tallied seven hits this week, hit .438, drove in eight runs and cracked her first two doubles of the season. The junior now stands tied for second on the team with 10 RBI. Aggabao is one of three returning players who finished 2006 with an average above .300.

SLAPPING SUCCESS: Jackie Rinehart led Stanford starters with a .471 batting average at the Stanford Invitational. The senior slap-hitter reached on eight infield hits, and scored four runs for the Cardinal. On the year, Rinehart is one of four Cardinal players batting at least .400 and stands second on the team with 14 total hits.

SCOUTING THE FIU GOLDEN PANTHERS: Florida International finished 2006 with a 30-28 record and just missed an NCAA berth with a second place finish in the Sun Belt Conference. Ten letterwinners return to the squad, led by senior catcher Tabitha Embry, the top hitter for the Golden Panthers last season. The team is looking for its first win of 2007 at its home tournament, after starting the season 0-10. Embry has led the team so far with a .333 average and nine hits, while senior Deomni Murray has eight hits and a .276 average.

SCOUTING THE TEXAS STATE BOBCATS: Texas State finished last season with a 34-22 record, and placed second in the Southland Conference. The team is led by senior pitcher Sarah Lancour, who finished last season with a 2.24 ERA and tallied 137 strikeouts. Sophomore Alex Newton is the top returning offensive player for the Bobcats, with a .282 average and six homeruns last year. This year, the team has started 4-6, but has already faced three top-10 teams. Sophomore Karen Taylor has the top batting average going into the weekend (.357) and sophomore Jetta Weinheimer leads the team with seven hits.

SCOUTING THE PURDUE BOILERMAKERS: Purdue went an even 30-30 last year and finished ninth in the Big 10. Eleven players return from the squad, including pitchers Brooke Baker and Melissa Burns, who combined for 180 strikeouts last season. Junior Ashley Hall hit .330 last year and led the team with 20 stolen bases, while senior DaQueta Johnson led the team with 47 RBI. The team has started 2-8 this year, competing in the Bulldog Round Robin in Starkville, Miss. and the Ragin' Cajun Invitational in Lafayette, La. Hall has led the team so far with a .353 average and 12 hits, but sophomore Kelly Miller is close behind with a .333 average and freshman Jenna Alexander leads the team with seven RBI.

SCOUTING THE SYRACUSE ORANGE: The Orange finished with a 36-21 overall record last year and placed fourth in the Big East. Twelve letterwinners and eight starters return for 2007, led by Big East Co-Rookie of the Year Tonye McCorkle who hit .369 last season. Sophomore Heather Kim was an All-Regional and All-Conference honoree in 2006, with a .348 average and 35 RBI. Junior Erin Downey is the squad's top returning pitcher with a 2.89 ERA and 263 strikeouts in 2006. Like the Cardinal, Syracuse competed at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Feb. 9-11, but went 0-5. McCorkle has been the top offensive player so far, with four hits and a .444 average.

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.

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 opponents appeared 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: Stanford moved up in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and the USA Today/NFCA poll this week. In the former poll, the Cardinal jumped from No. 12 to No. 8 and in the latter the squad went from No. 13 to No. 11. Tennessee remains in the No. 1 spot in both polls, while Texas A&M and Arizona State have split the No. 2 and No. 3 slots. All eight Pac-10 schools are now ranked, as Oregon jumped into the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll at No. 25 this week.

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: At the start of his 11th season at Stanford, Head Coach John Rittman carries a 430-199-1 (.683) career record and has 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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