No. 8/9 Stanford Heads to Worth Classic

Feb. 28, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK: The Cardinal softball team remains on the road this weekend, and will compete at the Worth Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The team kicks off the weekend against Cal Poly, with an 11:15 start on Friday. Later that evening, Stanford will take on host Cal State Fullerton in a 6 p.m. contest. On Saturday, the Cardinal will play back-to-back morning games with Texas Tech and No. 8/12 Northwestern, before closing out the tournament against Minnesota on Sunday at 9 a.m.

ON DECK: Stanford will host its second tournament of the year, Mar. 9-11, at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium. In addition to the Cardinal, the Stanford Classic will feature San Diego State, UC Santa Barbara, Loyola Chicago and Sacramento State. Action begins on Friday at 10 a.m. and continues through the weekend, with the tournament championship set for noon on Sunday.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is on a 12-game win streak, and now stands at 14-2 in 2007. 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. The Cardinal won another title at the FIU/Adidas Invitational last weekend, with a perfect 5-0 record at the Golden Panthers' tournament in Miami, Fla. The squad shutout four opponents during the weekend, behind an impressive performance by Missy Penna. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 101-23 this season and is batting .331 as a team.

PENNA PERFECTION: Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna pitched a near-perfect weekend in her hometown of Miami, Fla. this weekend. For the week, Penna was 4-0 with no runs allowed in 23.1 innings. She allowed just six hits and three walks while striking out 38 batters and was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for her efforts. Penna improved her overall record to 10-1, the most wins in the conference. Her 0.82 ERA is second in the Pac-10 and her 99 strikeouts are tied for third. Opponents are hitting just .123 against Penna so far, the best opposing average of any Pac-10 pitcher. As a team, Stanford has allowed fewer hits than any other team in the conference.

KOPLITZ DELIVERS: Cardinal freshman Shannon Koplitz had a chance to shine this weekend and wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity. In just her second collegiate start, Koplitz cracked a homerun over the center field fence to put an exclamation point on the team's 9-2 win over Syracuse. Less than 24 hours later, Koplitz did it again, belting a long ball over the left field fence in the sixth inning against Marist. Koplitz went 2-for-3 in the game and made an impressive play from her knees at shortstop to save Missy Penna's second one-hitter of the weekend. Koplitz has made 10 appearances for the Cardinal and is batting .417.

HITTING FIVEFOLD: Senior Jackie Rinehart tied a career record with five hits against Syracuse on Saturday. The 5-for-5 performance was the best Cardinal outing since Rinehart cracked five hits against Cal State Northridge on Mar. 5, 2004. The performance tied a program record for single-game hits against a Division I opponent.

FABULOUS FRESHMEN: The Cardinal rookies have made an immediate impact at the plate this season. Center fielder Alissa Haber is one of the top hitters on the team with a .396 average. She recently ended a 10-game hitting streak, stands second on the team with six multiple-hit games and is one of just two Cardinal players to have multiple 3+ hit games. Catcher Rosey Neill is batting .361 with two homeruns and leads the team with 18 RBI. She has registered a hit in 8 of her last 9 games and hit .571 during that time. At the FIU/Adidas Invitational this weekend, Neill went 7-for-11 and led the team with a .636 average. In 12 at bats, Shannon Koplitz has notched five hits and two homeruns for the Cardinal, while Michelle Schroeder has scored five runs. As a group, the Stanford freshman have been responsible for nearly half of the team's homeruns, 40 of the team's hits and 34 of the teams runs.

FINDING A WAY: Stanford freshman Rosey Neill may not have the best batting average in the Stanford line-up, but the Cardinal catcher knows how to get herself on base. Neill has been walked a team-leading 14 times this season and has been hit by a pitch a team-leading three times. Combined with her .361 batting average, Neill finds a way on more than anyone else on the team with a .545 on-base percentage. Neill leads the conference with a combined 17 free trips to first base.

IN CONFERENCE: Maddy Coon is one of the top-10 players in the Pac-10 in six categories. The Cardinal sophomore leads the league with eight doubles, and carries one of the top slugging percentages and on-base percentages as well. Jackie Rinehart's .415 batting average makes the conference top-10 and the senior stands third in the conference with 22 hits and tied for sixth with teammate Alissa Haber with 16 runs scored. Haber is fourth with 21 hits and tied for fifth with four doubles, while Rosey Neill is tied for fifth with 18 RBI.

BACK AGAIN: The Cardinal is 14-4 all-time at the Worth Classic and will be competing in the tournament for the fourth-straight year. Last season, Stanford went 3-1 at the tournament with wins over Northwestern, Purdue and Cal State Fullerton and a loss to UC Santa Barbara.

SCALING THE CHARTS: Six Stanford players have etched their names on the Stanford career top-10 charts and are continuing to climb. Jackie Rinehart pulled into a tie with Jessica Allister (`04) for eighth all-time in hits with 217. Rinehart is also eighth in career runs scored (108), eighth in career triples (4) and eighth in stolen bases (20). Junior Michelle Smith added another homerun to her collegiate tally this weekend, and now stands tied for fifth with 24. Smith is now seventh with 104 RBI and tenth with 22 doubles. As just a sophomore, Maddy Coon has already made the top-10 chart with 11 homeruns and junior Anna Beardman stands sixth all-time with seven triples. Pitchers Missy Penna and Becky McCullough are climbing the charts in victories, strikeouts and innings pitched.

SCOUTING THE CAL POLY MUSTANGS: The Mustangs return from a 27-23 season, during which they finished third in the Big West. Nine starters and 13 letterwinners return, including four All-Big West selections. Center fielder Lisa Modglin was an All-West Region honoree and a First Team All-Big West selection in 2006, while Jackie Gehrke-Jones, Sarah Iwata and Robyn Kontra were also honored by the conference. Modglin leads the 10-4 Mustangs with a .500 average, 22 hits and six homeruns this season, while Gehrke-Jones is close behind with a .487 average and 19 hits. Kontra is the top pitcher for Cal Poly with a 1.83 ERA in seven appearances. Stanford is 6-2 all-time against Cal Poly.

SCOUTING THE CAL STATE FULLERTON TITANS: Cal State Fullerton won the Big West title last season and posted a 37-24 overall record. The Titans advanced to the Fresno Regional but were eliminated by the Cardinal in their third postseason game. Nine letterwinners and eight starters return for 2007, and so far the team has gone 9-7. Junior Jessica Doucette has a .360 average and leads the team with 18 hits and eight doubles. Five All-Conference players return including seniors Candice Baker, who is hitting .325 and Ashley Von Boxmeer, who leads the team with three homeruns. Baker is the top pitcher for the Titans, with five shutouts and a 1.47 ERA this year. Stanford is 13-3 all-time against Cal State Fullerton.

SCOUTING THE TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS: Texas Tech went 19-35 in 2006 and finished 10th in the Big 12. The team returns 17 letterwinners and nine starters, however, including All-Big West selection Ashley Parker. So far, the Red Raiders are 11-5 and Parker is the most dangerous player at the plate with 24 hits and a .429 average. Junior Jennifer Corkin leads the team with 17 RBI and junior Devin Zaragoza has racked up 17 hits. Stanford is 7-0 all-time against Texas Tech.

SCOUTING THE NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS: The No. 8/12 Wildcat squad was the NCAA runner-up last year, finishing second to Arizona at the Women's College World Series. The team finished with a 50-15 overall record and claimed the Big 10 conference title outright for the first time in nearly two decades. The Wildcats take the field with three returning NFCA All-Americans: Eileen Canney, Garland Cooper and Tammy Williams. Northwestern is 10-5 this season, led by Williams' 23 hits, 12 RBI and .469 average. Stanford is 2-4 all-time against the Wildcats and dropped a close 3-1 decision to the team earlier this year at the Kajikawa Classic. Missy Penna struck out 16 of the 26 Wildcats to come to the plate, but a pair of homeruns gave the Wildcats the win.

SCOUTING THE MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota was 17-33 last year and won just one Big-10 game. This year, however, the Golden Gophers have started with a 7-3 mark. Junior Casey Wheeler leads the team with 10 RBI while junior Katie Meyer and senior Megan Higginbotham have ten hits apiece. Higginbotham was the team MVP last season with a .331 average, and is hitting .278 this year. Rene Konderik is currently the best pitcher for the Golden Gophers with a 3.41 ERA. Sunday will mark the first-ever meeting between Stanford and Minnesota.

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: After a 5-0 weekend, Stanford stayed put at No. 8 in the Softball poll but jumped to No. 9 in the USA Today/NFCA poll. Tennessee remains No. 1 in both polls, and Arizona, Arizona State, Alabama and Texas A&M round out the top-five. All eight Pac-10 schools are ranked in both polls 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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