Cardinal Prepares for Midweek Contest with Saint Mary's

April 10, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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UP NEXT: The Cardinal returns home for a midweek game against Saint Mary's before continuing Pac-10 play on the road. The contest with the Gaels is set for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium.

ON DECK: Stanford heads to the Arizona schools for a road series in the desert, Friday through Sunday. The weekend will begin in Tucson on Friday night, with a 7 p.m. showdown with the defending National Champion Arizona Wildcats at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Cardinal then heads to Tempe for a pair of games with Arizona State, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 26-9 overall in 2007 and carries an even 3-3 record in the Pac-10. On Feb. 9, the Cardinal opened the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., 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 the following 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. At the Worth Classic in Fullerton, Stanford went 2-3, with wins over Texas Tech and Minnesota. At the Stanford Classic, the team picked up five wins and another home tournament title. At its final home tournament, the team went 2-1 and dropped its first home contest of the season to Portland State. During the first weekend of conference play, Stanford topped No. 17/19 Oregon State, 2-1, before splitting with the No. 13/13 Oregon Ducks. Stanford continued Pac-10 play against Cal last weekend, and dropped the series, two games to one. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 172-85 this season and is batting .300 as a team.

WEEKEND CYCLE: In her final six at bats this weekend, freshman Alissa Haber hit for the cycle, notching a double and a triple on Friday and a single and a homerun on Saturday. For the weekend, Haber led the team with a .556 average, five hits and three RBI. The freshman has started all 35 games in center field for the Cardinal, and currently leads the team with 43 hits and a .381 batting average.

BRINGING `EM IN: Junior Michelle Smith added another tally to her team-leading RBI total this weekend, driving in a key run for the Cardinal in Friday's 8-6 win over Cal. Smith leads the team with 31 RBI this season, thanks in part to her team-leading six homeruns.

HITTING WHEN IT COUNTS: Freshman Alissa Haber is the best bet at the plate for the Cardinal in clutch situations. The Newark, Calif. native is hitting a team-high .590 (23-for-39) with runners on base and a team-high .500 (13-for-26) with runners in scoring position. She is the most likely to come through for the Cardinal with two outs, as well, with a .414 (12-for-29) average under two-out pressure. Junior Erin Howe has been strong in bases loaded situations, however. In her four at bats with bases loaded, Howe has singled, doubled and belted a grand slam homerun.

GETTING ABOARD: A trio of Stanford freshmen have led the way in getting aboard this season, as Shannon Koplitz, Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber are three of the four most likely Cardinal players to reach base. Koplitz, who earned her starting spot in late February, currently gets on half the time with a team-leading .500 on-base percentage. Neill has started 34 games behind the plate for the Cardinal, leads the squad with 24 walks and is second on the team with 28 RBI. Haber is the team's top hitter with a .381 season average.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cardinal is 13-2 at home this season and dropped its first contest of the year at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium on Mar. 25. Stanford has outscored opponents 73-20 at its home venue this year. Freshman Shannon Koplitz has been the most successful Cardinal player on familiar turf, boasting a team-leading .364 average at Smith Family Stadium.

SCALING THE CHARTS: Seven Stanford players have etched their names on the Stanford career top-10 charts and are continuing to climb. Jackie Rinehart remains sixth all-time with 234 hits in a Stanford uniform and is alone in seventh in career runs scored (117). The senior is also tied for sixth on the career stolen bases chart (24), stands tenth on the career at bats chart (674) and ranks eighth on the career triples chart (4), three behind teammate Anna Beardman who stands sixth all-time (7). Junior Michelle Smith's collegiate homerun tally (29) is good for fourth on the career chart. Smith also stands sixth with 122 RBI and tied for tenth with 24 doubles. As just a sophomore, Maddy Coon has already made the top-10 chart with 12 homeruns and 24 doubles. Junior Erin Howe stands sixth in career putouts, with 648 to date.

PITCHING LEADERS: Although Stanford has just two active pitchers, the staff is one of the most successful combinations in Stanford history. As just a sophomore, Missy Penna stands fourth in Stanford history with 378 career strikeouts, and seventh with 41 career wins. Penna is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per game, with 199 K's this season, the fifth highest single-season tally in Stanford history. Penna's 19 wins this year is already one of the top-10 single-season marks as well. Junior Becky McCullough is tied for sixth on the career strikeouts chart with 264 and stands eighth on the career wins chart with 38.

IN CONFERENCE: Maddy Coon is tied for third in the Pac-10 with 11 doubles this season and also boasts one of the top-10 slugging percentages in the conference. Coon and teammates Rosey Neill and Shannon Koplitz are some of the most likely players to be hit by a pitch in the conference, and Neill stands eighth in walks after drawing 24 already this season. Missy Penna remains one of the top pitchers in the conference with the third best opposing batting average (.166) in the league, the second most wins (19) and the fourth most strikeouts (199). She also stands seventh in the conference with a 1.63 ERA. Since the conference season began, freshman Alissa Haber has been one of the most dangerous offensive players in the Pac-10. In conference play, the Cardinal center fielder leads the league in runs scored (7), hits (10) and total bases (17). She is second in the league with a .526 conference batting average and now ranks ninth with a .381 overall average. As a team, Stanford's .291 conference batting average ranks second, topped only by Oregon's .320 clip.

NOTES FROM THE DUGOUT: Stanford's longest winning streak was 12 games between Feb. 11 and Mar. 2 ... The team scored a season-high 15 runs against Oregon on Apr. 1 ... The squad's 16 hits against the Ducks were also a season-high, as were the five homeruns ... The team's six doubles against Minnesota (3/4) was a season-high ... Alissa Haber leads the team with 13 multiple-hit games ... Rosey Neill leads the team with nine multiple RBI games ... Haber's 10-game hitting streak between Feb. 10 and Feb. 22 stands as the longest by a Cardinal player this season ... Haber and Missy Penna are currently on four-game streaks ... Stanford has posted 11 shutouts this season and been held scoreless four times ... Stanford has scored 10 or more runs four times this season and run-ruled seven opponents ... Rinehart's five hits against Syracuse (2/24) tied a Stanford single-game record for hits against a Division I opponent ... Missy Penna's 16 strikeouts against Northwestern (2/10) tied a single-game school record.

SCOUTING THE SAINT MARY'S GAELS: The Gaels are coming off of a rough 5-49 season, but 13 returning letterwinners and five newcomers are out to best that mark this season. The squad already has 17 wins in 2007, the most since the 2003 season, and has won two of its last three games. Junior Molly Bergeson is the top offensive threat for the Gaels. The Cleveland, Ill. native is batting .409 with a team-leading 52 hits. Senior Lauren Mello is the power-hitter of the group with 12 doubles, six homeruns and 24 RBI. The Gaels have a large pitching staff, but so far, senior Kate Albaugh has been the best bet with a 3.60 ERA and five wins.

THE SERIES WITH SAINT MARY'S: Stanford is 22-6 all-time against the Gaels and edged the local squad in a wild 1-0 contest at home last season after Lauren Lappin scored on a foul fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. Stanford has won the last four meetings between the two teams, last dropping a contest to the Gaels during the 2004 season.

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.

NATIONAL POLLS (APR. 4): Stanford stayed at No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, and climbed back to No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Tennessee continues to hold the top spot in both polls and Oklahoma and Alabama round out the top-three. Seven of the eight Pac-10 schools are ranked in both polls, with the two Arizona schools remaining in the top-10 in both. Stanford has been listed at No. 8 three times this season, the squad's highest ranking of the season.

PAC-10 POLL: 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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