No. 12/17 Stanford Continues Pac-10 Play in the Desert

April 12, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK: 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 at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

ON DECK: The Cardinal will play its first full Pac-10 home series, Apr. 20-22. The weekend begins with a Friday night match-up with defending conference champion UCLA, and continues with two games against Washington, Saturday and Sunday. The Apr. 21 and Apr. 22 games will both be televised live on CSTV.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 27-9 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, but came home to dominate Saint Mary's, 8-0, Wednesday night. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 180-85 this season and is batting .303 as a team.

NO-HITTER FOR PENNA: Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna threw her second career no-hitter against Saint Mary's on Wednesday night, striking out eight batters, inlcuding her 200th of the season, and improved to 20-3 on the year. Penna has thrown three one-hitters this year alone, and now has two career no-hitters, with the first coming on March 26, 2006 against UC Davis. Penna's 207 K's this season is one of the best single-season marks in Stanford history, bested only by All-American Dana Sorenson in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

WEEKEND CYCLE: In her final six at bats last weekend against Cal, 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. Against Saint Mary's, Haber reached on all four of her appearances at the plate and cracked an RBI double in the first inning. The freshman has started all 36 games in center field for the Cardinal, hit .714 over the last five games and currently leads the team with 44 hits and a .386 overall batting average.

BRINGING `EM IN: Junior Michelle Smith added two more tallies to her team-leading RBI total against Saint Mary's, driving runs in the first inning and sixth inning with a pair of singles. Smith leads the team with 33 RBI this season, thanks in part to her team-leading six homeruns.

LOTS ON LITTLE ONES: Senior Jackie Rinehart beat out three slap hits against Saint Mary's on Wednesday, and finished 3-for-4 on the night. The Cardinal left fielder has 42 hits this year, and leads the team with four 3+ hit outings.

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 .600 (24-for-40) 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 nearly half the time with a team-leading .487 on-base percentage. Neill has started 35 games behind the plate for the Cardinal, leads the squad with 25 walks and is second on the team with 29 RBI. Haber is the team's top hitter with a .386 season average.

LIFE ON THE ROAD: The Cardinal is 4-3 on the road this season and 3-2 on the road in Pac-10 play. Three Cardinal freshmen have been the most successful hitters on the road, with Alissa Haber, Shannon Koplitz and Rosey Neill all hitting at a clip of .400 or above in away contests.

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 237 hits in a Stanford uniform and is alone in seventh in career runs scored (119). The senior is also tied for sixth on the career stolen bases chart (24), stands tenth on the career at bats chart (678) 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 124 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 386 career strikeouts, and tied for sixth with 42 career wins. Penna is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per game, with 207 K's this season, the fourth highest single-season tally in Stanford history. Penna's 20 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: Entering the week, Maddy Coon stood tied for third in the Pac-10 with 11 doubles boasted one of the top-10 slugging percentages in the conference. Coon and teammates Rosey Neill and Shannon Koplitz were some of the most likely players to be hit by a pitch in the conference, and Neill stood eighth in walks after drawing 24. Missy Penna remained 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 stood 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, at the beginning of the week, ranked 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 and Michelle Smith lead the team with nine multiple RBI games apiece ... 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 five-game streaks ... Stanford has posted 12 shutouts this season and been held scoreless four times ... Stanford has scored 10 or more runs four times this season and run-ruled eight 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 ARIZONA WILDCATS: The Wildcats posted an impressive 54-11 record last season and went 10-2 in the postseason to claim the program's seventh National Championship. The squad returns 11 letterwinners from the 2006 team, and currently boasts a No. 4 national ranking and a 28-8 overall record, including a 17-1 mark at home. Senior Caitlin Lowe is leading the team with a .457 average and 53 hits, but classmate Chelsie Mesa is close behind with 42 hits and a .359 average. Another senior, Kristie Fox, is responsible for most of the Wildcat runs, leading the team with 41 RBI and 10 homeruns. Junior Taryne Mowatt has done all of the pitching in conference play so far for the Wildcats and leads the league with 21 wins. Her 1.64 ERA stands eighth in the Pac-10. Stanford is 4-41 all-time against the Wildcats, and fell in all three meetings with the eventual National Champions last season.

SCOUTING THE ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS: The Sun Devils finished 2006 with a 53-15 overall record and advanced to the Women's College World Series for the 12th time in program history. The team has jumped out to a 36-10 start this season, with an 18-1 mark at home. Sophomore Kaitlin Cochran currently carries a .508 average, the second-best clip in the conference. Her 66 hits lead the Pac-10 and her 13 doubles and 11 homeruns are best on the team and second in the conference. Senior Bianca Cruz is the team's RBI leader, with 51 already this season. In the circle, Katie Burkhart has been the dominant pitcher in the Pac-10, with a league-leading 0.87 ERA, .138 opposing batting average and 291 strikeouts. Stanford is 15-21 all-time against the Sun Devils, and won one of three against the team last 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: Stanford dropped in both polls this week, after giving up two of three contests to Cal. In the USA Today/NFCA poll, Stanford fell from No. 14 to No. 17 and in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the Cardinal went from No. 10 to No. 12. Tennessee holds the top spot in both polls for the ninth-straight week 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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