Stanford Battles San Jose State Tuesday

April 23, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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UP NEXT: Stanford continues its seven-game home stretch this week, playing four more games at Smith Family Stadium. Action begins on Tuesday, when the team will take on the local San Jose State Spartans at Smith Family Stadium. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.

ON DECK: The Arizona schools come to town for the weekend and the Cardinal will look to pick up some critical conference wins. On Friday night, Stanford will meet Arizona State before squaring off with the conference-leading Arizona Wildcats, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday's game will be aired live on CSTV.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 29-13 overall in 2007 and carries a 5-7 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, and dropped the series, two games to one, but came home to dominate Saint Mary's, 8-0, later in the week. The Cardinal was then swept by the Arizona schools on the road before winning two of three against UCLA and Washington last weekend. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 193-122 this season and is batting .286 as a team.

HABER ALL THE WAY: Stanford freshman Alissa Haber led the Cardinal offense this week, extending her hitting streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in the conference. The Newark, Calif. native went 4-for-8 (.500), with her fourth homerun of the year and her team-leading 12th double. On Friday night against UCLA, Haber was 2-for-3 and picked up two RBI with a sacrifice fly in the second inning and a solo homerun in the sixth. Against Washington, Haber was 1-for-2 and scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the third inning. In the second game with the Huskies, Haber extended her hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning double to left center. The freshman leads the team with a .392 overall average and 51 hits, with a .486 average and 17 hits in conference play.

WHEN THE GAME IS ON THE LINE: The Cardinal won another one-run game on Sunday, edging Washington, 3-2. Stanford has been on the better side of seven of the team's nine one-run contests this season, and has won both contests that were decided in the seventh. 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 .568 (25-for-44) with runners on base and a team-high .481 (13-for-27) with runners in scoring position. She is the most likely to come through for the Cardinal with two outs, as well, with a .412 (14-for-34) average under two-out pressure. Senior Jackie Rinehart is also hitting over .400 with runners in scoring position, and, along with Haber is one of the most likely to successfully advance runners.

BEHIND THE PLATE: Freshman catcher Rosey Neill has been tough behind the plate this season. She is one of the top catchers in the conference in catching runners stealing, with seven successful throw-downs this year. Additionally, Neill leads the conference in pick-offs, having thrown out three runners at first base.

KEEP `EM COMING: Junior Michelle Smith and freshman Rosey Neill are the most successful at scoring runs for the Cardinal, each with 30+ RBI this season. Smith leads the way with 36, after notching a team-leading three RBI over the weekend. Neill, the team leader in walks, is also one of the four most likely players to get on base for Stanford, reaching more than 43 percent of the time. The duo leads the team in homeruns as well, with six apiece this season.

PERFORMING UNDER PRESSURE: Sophomore pitcher Missy Penna found herself in a tough jam this weekend against UCLA, facing a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth inning while the Cardinal clung to a 5-3 lead. Penna stepped up and struck out the heart of the UCLA order (4,5,6 hitters), however, capping the three-strikeout series with the 400th K of her career. Penna now has 227 strikeouts this year, a single-season mark bested only by All-American Dana Sorensen in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cardinal is 16-3 at home this season, has outscored opponents 91-38 at Smith Family Stadium and is hitting .289 in the facility. Five players, including leader Alissa Haber (.393, 22 hits), are hitting above .300 at home, while only three players are doing so overall.

EVERYBODY HITS: One of the smallest rosters in the conference, Stanford's is also one of the deepest. All 13 active members of the Cardinal have notched at least one extra-base hit this season, eight have blasted at least one homerun and five have ripped at least one triple.

APRIL SHOWERS: April has been a good month for at least one member of the Cardinal. Alissa Haber has gone 17-for-30 (.567) this month, cracked five doubles, belted three homeruns and tallied eight RBI. Haber has a 1.100 slugging percentage in April, a .641 on-base percentage and is riding a season-long 11 game hitting streak.

SCALING THE CAREER 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 239 hits in a Stanford uniform and is alone in seventh in career runs scored (120). The senior is also tied for sixth on the career stolen bases chart (24), stands ninth on the career at bats chart (697) 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 127 RBI and tenth with 24 doubles. As just a sophomore, Maddy Coon has already made the top-10 chart with 12 homeruns and junior Erin Howe stands sixth in career putouts, with 687 to date.

PITCHING RECORDS: 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 406 career strikeouts, and tied for fifth with 43 career wins. Penna has 227 K's this season, the fourth highest single-season tally in Stanford history. Penna's 21 wins this year is already one of the top-10 single-season marks as well. Junior Becky McCullough is sixth on the career strikeouts chart with 273 and stands eighth on the career wins chart with 39.

MAKING A NAME FOR 2007: As a team, the 2007 squad has already posted some of the best tallies in Stanford history. Alissa Haber's homerun this weekend brought the team total to 29, tying for fifth in the all-time team marks. The team is also already one of the top-10 squad's in program history in runs, doubles, triples, RBI, walks drawn, complete games and strikeouts as well.

LEADERS OF THE PAC: Entering the fifth week of conference play, freshman Alissa Haber continues to be one of the top offensive players in the conference. Her .392 batting average is sixth-best in the conference, her .592 slugging percentage is tenth and her .481 on-base percentage stands eighth. Haber is also third with 12 doubles, one ahead of teammate Maddy Coon, who has 11 on the year. Coon and Shannon Koplitz are some of the most likely players to be hit by a pitch in the conference, and Rosey Neill stands eighth in walks after drawing 26 already this season. Missy Penna remains one of the top pitchers in the conference with the fourth-best opposing batting average (.180) in the league, the third-most wins (21) and the fourth most strikeouts (227). She also stands ninth in the conference with a 2.17 ERA.

FRESHMEN PICKING IT UP WHEN IT COUNTS: Since the conference season began, the Stanford freshmen have been the most consistent players on the Cardinal roster. Alissa Haber has been one of the most dangerous offensive players in Pac-10 play so far. In conference play, the Cardinal center fielder leads the league in doubles (5), stands second in hits (17) and total bases (33), and ranks third in conference batting average (.486) and conference slugging percentage (.943). She is also carries one of the top-five on-base percentages and run totals in conference play. Fellow freshman Shannon Koplitz's .323 average is tenth in league play and her on-base percentage (.450) stands seventh.

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 14 multiple-hit games, but Jackie Rinehart is close behind with 13 ... Michelle Smith leads the team with ten multiple RBI games ... Haber is currently on an 11-game hitting streak, dating back to Apr. 1 ... The streak is Haber's second double-digit streak of the season, as she also went on a ten-game run between Feb. 10 and Feb. 22 ... Stanford has posted 12 shutouts this season and been held scoreless five times ... Stanford has scored 10 or more runs four times this season and run-ruled eight opponents ... Jackie 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 SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS: The Spartans enter Tuesday's contest with a 21-22 overall record and a 6-9 mark in the WAC. Last season, the team was 23-27 and took second in the conference. So far in 2007, junior Liz Perez has been the most consistent hitter with a .322 average, but junior Sarah Smith and sophomore Brittany McConnell are the team's power-hitters with a combined 13 homeruns and 54 RBI. Roxanne Bejarano is the dominant pitcher for San Jose State. The junior carries a 14-12 record, a 2.33 ERA and has struck out 132 batters.

LAST TIME AROUND: Stanford is 16-10 all-time against San Jose State, and topped the Spartans in a tight 4-3 contest at Smith Family Stadium last season. The Cardinal fell behind by three runs in the first inning, but came within a run in the sixth off of a double by Michelle Smith. Jackie Rinehart brought home Lindsay Key in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, and Anna Beardman slammed home Erin Howe for the game-winning run in the eighth inning.

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. 18): Stanford dropped in both polls this week, after dropping three contests in Arizona. In the USA Today/NFCA poll, Stanford fell from No. 17 to No. 18 and in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the Cardinal went from No. 12 to No. 16. Tennessee holds the top spot in both polls for the tenth-straight week and Alabama and Arizona 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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