Cardinal Takes on Oregon, Oregon State in Final Regular-Season Weekend
May 9, 2007
Stanford, Calif. -
UP NEXT: Stanford will play its final Pac-10 series this weekend, hosting the Oregon schools Thursday through Saturday at Smith Family Stadium. On Thursday night, the Cardinal will play a 7 p.m. rubber game with the No. 20 Oregon Ducks, before hosting the No. 15/19 Oregon State Beavers in another 7 p.m. game on Friday. The weekend concludes on Saturday, when the Cardinal will honor its two seniors, Jackie Rinehart and Lindsay Key, before the team's final regular-season home game against Oregon State. First pitch on Saturday is set for 1 p.m.
ON DECK: The Cardinal is looking for a tenth-straight invitation to the NCAA Championships, and eyeing an at-large bid to the 64-team field this season. The brackets will be announced on Sunday between 12 and 1 p.m. (PT) on ESPNews. Regionals begin May 18 at 16 campus sites.
SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 33-16-1 overall in 2007 and carries a 7-10-1 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. The team then picked up a 5-3 non-conference win over San Jose State, before going 1-1-1 against the Arizona schools and upsetting No. 4 Arizona. Last weekend, Stanford went 1-2 on the Washington/UCLA trip, and upset the No. 12 Bruins, 4-1, to pull into fifth place in the Pac-10. On Tuesday, Stanford topped UC Davis on the road, 11-5. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 216-145 this season and is batting .272 as a team.
HITS GALORE: Alissa Haber hit .500 (5-for-10) for the weekend against Washington and UCLA last week, before recording an impressive 3-for-4 outing against UC Davis on Tuesday. On Friday night against Washington, Haber notched one of the three Stanford hits, before stepping up on Sunday and helping the Cardinal upset No.12 UCLA. The freshman went 4-for-4 against the Bruins (matching a career high in hits), scored a run and collected two RBI. In the fourth inning, with the Cardinal clinging to a 1-0 lead, Haber drilled what proved to be the game-winning hit, a two-out, two-RBI single through the right side, to give Stanford a 3-0 lead. Haber added some insurance for the Cardinal in the seventh, cracking a lead-off double off of the wall in right center and scoring on the next play. Against UC Davis, she notched her second triple of the season and added two more runs to her team-leading 37 run total. Haber continues to lead Stanford with a .376 overall average and 59 hits, with a .400 average and 22 hits in conference. Her double against UCLA was her team-leading 13th of the season and sixth in Pac-10 play. In the last two games, Haber has hit a whopping .875 (7-for-8).
`E'LESS BALL: The Stanford defense has cleaned up its act recently, making opponents earn all of their runs. Stanford has now played four complete games and 34 innings of errorless softball, and has committed just one error in the last 54 innings. An opponent has not scored an unearned run on the Cardinal since Apr. 24.
LONG LOST LONG BALLS: Junior Michelle Smith brought back the long lost Stanford long ball against UC Davis on Tuesday, belting two homeruns over the left field fence. The blasts were the first for Smith since April 1 and the first for the team since Alissa Haber hit homeruns in back-to-back contests ten games ago. Smith leads the team with eight homeruns on the year, doubling her 2006 total. The junior's two blasts on Tuesday were the 30th and 31st of her career, putting her among four players in program history (Smith, Jessica Mendoza `02, Catalina Morris `06 and Jessica Allister `04) to tally 30+ career homeruns. Smith also passed the 40 RBI mark for the season with the long balls, and moved into sole possession of fifth place on the career RBI chart with 132.
SENIOR SALUTE: Stanford's two seniors, Jackie Rinehart and Lindsay Key, will be playing their final regular-season home games this weekend after more than 200 games in a Cardinal uniform. Going into the weekend, the duo has combined for 286 Cardinal hits, 147 Cardinal runs and 72 Cardinal RBI. Key has been a solid defensive player for the Cardinal, contributing in both the middle infield and the outfield. This season, she won the starting spot at shortstop and is batting .216 with eight hits on the year. Rinehart will finish her Stanford career with top-10 career marks in hits, triples, runs, stolen bases, at bats and games played and is on track to be one of five players in Stanford history to graduate with a career batting average over .300. Key is set to graduate in Economics, while Rinehart is completing a degree in Psychology.
WHEN THE GAME IS ON THE LINE: Stanford has been on the better side of eight of the team's ten 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 .500 (27-for-54) with runners on base and a team-high .500 (15-for-30) with runners in scoring position. She is the most likely to come through for the Cardinal with two outs, as well, with a .409 (18-for-44) average under two-out pressure. The experience of seniors Jackie Rinehart and Lindsay Key has also proved to be key for the Cardinal. Other than Haber, the two seniors are the most likely to come through with runners on and the most likely to hit with runners in scoring position.
ENDING THE DROUGHT: After 28 scoreless innings, the Cardinal finally ended its longest scoring drought of the season on Sunday with a run in the second inning against UCLA. The three-straight shutouts that preceded Sunday's win marked the first time during the season that the Cardinal has been shutout in consecutive games. On the other side, Stanford's longest defensive shutout streak was 26 innings and three-straight games against Loyola Chicago, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State in mid-March.
ALL AT ONCE: Alissa Haber's four hits on Sunday marked just the third time this season that a Cardinal player has tallied four or more in a single game. The freshman hit the mark earlier in the season with a 4-for-4 performance against Oregon on Apr. 1. Senior Jackie Rinehart is the only other Cardinal player to accomplish the feat this year, as the Reno, Nev. native tied a single-game record with five hits against Syracuse on Feb. 24.
STREAK WATCH: Tricia Aggabao ended a seven-game hitting streak on Sunday, a run topped only by the two double-digit streaks posted by Alissa Haber this year. Aggabao had an offensive surge at the end of last season as well, hitting in eight of the team's final nine games and driving her batting average as high as .330 late in the season. Michelle Smith is on the longest current Cardinal hitting streak, with hits in the each of the last three games.
DOING IT ALL: Missy Penna stepped up in all aspects of her game on Sunday to help Stanford upset No. 12 UCLA. In addition to picking up her 23rd win and allowing just three hits in the circle, Penna made two key defensive plays for the Cardinal and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a critical RBI.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Cardinal is 18-4-1 at home this season, and has upset three ranked opponents in its last six conference games at Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal has more than double the runs of opponents on its home turf (99-45) and has 40 extra-base hits there. Tricia Aggabao is the best offensive player at home. The junior is batting .367 and has four of her five doubles at Smith. Jackie Rinehart is also hitting significantly better at home, with a .324 average within the friendly confines of the team's home park.
HITS FOR ALL: Nine Cardinal players notched hits in the Washington-UCLA series this weekend, proving that every player on the Stanford roster can be a threat at the plate. All 13 active players on the Cardinal roster have notched extra-base hits this season, and eight players have blasted at least one homerun.
THE RACE TO THE TOP: Entering the final week of Pac-10 play, the Pac-10 Champion has been determined but the rest of the race is far from decided. Arizona clinched the title with a 2-0 win over Oregon State on Sunday, but Arizona State, Washington and UCLA are all still in the hunt for second place. Stanford's upset of UCLA lifted the Cardinal over Oregon State and into fifth place in the conference, two and a half games behind fourth-place UCLA. The Cardinal can finish as high as fourth in the conference, with a sweep of the Oregon schools and three losses by UCLA in the desert this weekend.
SCALING THE CAREER CHARTS: Seven Stanford players, including both pitchers, have etched their names on the Stanford career top-10 charts and are continuing to climb. Jackie Rinehart's hit against UCLA on Sunday moved her into a tie for fifth place with Robin Walker `02 on the career hits chart. Rinehart is also now tied for sixth with Sarah Beeson `02 in career runs scored (121), tied for sixth on the career stolen bases chart (24), stands eighth on the career at bats chart (723), ranks ninth on the career games played list (233) and is listed 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 (31) is good for fourth on the career chart and her 25 doubles stand tenth. Smith also passed Catalina Morris `06 in fifth place on the career RBI chart on Tuesday, with 132 to date, and has moved into seventh place with 301 career assists. As just a sophomore, Maddy Coon has already made the top-10 chart with 12 homeruns. Junior Erin Howe remains fifth in the career putouts category, with 749.
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 passed Tori Nyberg `03 on the career strikeouts chart with 445 this week, moving into third place behind All-Americans Becky Blevins `99 and Dana Sorensen `04. Penna is also fifth in Stanford history with 45 career wins. She has 266 K's this season alone, the fourth highest single-season tally in Stanford history. Penna's 23 wins this year bests her 2006 total and stands fifth on the Cardinal single-season charts. Junior Becky McCullough's seven strikeouts on Tuesday moved her up to fifth on the career strikeouts chart with 284 and she stands eighth on the career wins chart with 41.
MAKING A NAME FOR 2007: As a team, the 2007 squad has already posted some of the best tallies in Stanford history. Michelle Smith's homerun against UC Davis on Tuesday brought the team total to 31, sixth in the all-time team marks. Pitchers Missy Penna and Becky McCullough have combined for 336 strikeouts this season, the fourth-best team mark in program history. The team is also already one of the top-10 squads in program history in runs, doubles, triples, RBI, walks drawn, shutouts and complete games as well.
LEADERS OF THE PAC: Going into the final week of conference play, freshman Alissa Haber continued to be one of the top offensive players in the conference, with a batting average (.366) and an on-base percentage (.459) that both made the top-10. Haber also stood third in the doubles category (13) and tenth with 56 total hits. Haber, Maddy Coon and Shannon Koplitz were some of the most likely players to be hit by a pitch in the conference, and catcher Rosey Neill led the conference in pick-offs and stood third among conference catchers in runners caught stealing. Missy Penna remained one of the top pitchers in the conference with the fourth-best opposing batting average (.187) in the league, the third-most wins (23) and the fourth most strikeouts (264). She also ranked ninth in the conference with a 2.13 ERA.
PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: Since the conference season began, freshman Alissa Haber has stepped up and become the most dangerous offensive players on the Cardinal roster. In Pac-10 play, the Newark, Calif. native leads the league in doubles (6), and is one of nine conference players to crack a triple. She also ranks third in conference hits (22), fifth in batting average (.400) and total bases (39), sixth slugging percentage (.709) and on-base percentage (.477) and eighth in runs scored (12). In the month of April, she hit .395, recorded nine extra-base hits and posted her second double-digit hitting streak of the season, with an 11-game run between Apr. 1 and Apr. 22. On Sunday, she continued her offensive leadership with a 4-for-4 performance against UCLA. Overall, the rookie leads Stanford with a .376 batting average, 59 hits, 37 runs scored and 13 doubles.
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 16 multiple-hit games, and Jackie Rinehart has 13 ... Michelle Smith leads the team with 11 multiple RBI games ... Haber's 11-game hitting streak from Apr. 1 to Apr. 22 was the longest so far by a Cardinal player ... The streak was 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 13 shutouts this season, including a 12-inning scoreless game with No. 4 Arizona on Apr. 29 ... Stanford has scored 10 or more runs five times this season and run-ruled eight opponents ... Stanford now has posted 13 games with 10 or more hits, with three of those coming against Pac-10 opponents and two in the last two games ... 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 OREGON DUCKS: Oregon has had an impressive season, gaining its 40th win on Sunday with an upset of Arizona State. Despite a 40-16 overall mark, the Ducks find themselves last in the Pac-10 with a 5-13 conference record, but can finish as high as sixth with some wins this weekend. Redshirt freshman Jennifer Salling is batting .496, the second-highest mark in the conference, and leads the team with 70 hits. Six players on the roster are hitting over .300, however, and three players, including leader Ann Marie Topps (18), have hit double-digit homeruns. In the circle, the Ducks are led by junior Alicia Cook with a 1.92 ERA and a 19-3 record. Melissa Rice has 34 decisions for the Ducks, however, and leads the team with 109 strikeouts. Stanford is 19-19 all-time against Oregon.
SCOUTING THE OREGON STATE BEAVERS: Oregon State is 36-21 overall and stands just a half game behind the Cardinal with a 7-11 Pac-10 record. The Beavers can tie for fourth in the conference with the right combination of wins this weekend, and will try to do it on the shoulders of pitcher Brianne McGowan. The senior has 20 wins this season and 143 strikeouts, while boasting a 1.98 ERA. At the plate, Natalie Johnson leads the team with a .331 average, but Cambria Miranda leads the team with 58 hits and 10 homeruns. Miranda is also the team doubles and RBI leader with nine and 42, respectively. Stanford is 30-13 all-time against Oregon State.
LAST TIME AROUND: Stanford went 2-1 in Oregon, Mar. 30-Apr. 1, taking a 2-1 contest from the Beavers on Friday night before trading run-rule decisions with the Ducks. After dropping an 8-0 game on Mar. 31, the Cardinal started April with a bang, exploding for 15 runs on 16 hits against the Ducks to finish the weekend. Stanford had five homeruns in the game, including two by freshman catcher Rosey Neill.
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: In the USA Today/NFCA poll, Stanford stayed put at No. 16, but dropped one spot to No. 16 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, marking the first time this year that Stanford has earned the same rank on both lists. Tennessee climbed back into the No. 1 spot in both polls after topping Alabama last week, and Oklahoma, Arizona and Alabama unanimously round out the top-four. 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.