Stanford Hosts Santa Clara, Pacific, Wichita State in Stanford Invitational I

Feb. 14, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - THE WEEK AHEAD: Softball is in full swing on the Farm this week, as Santa Clara, Pacific and Wichita State will join the host Cardinal for the three-day, 10-game Stanford Invitational I. The teams will play a round robin schedule with Pacific and Santa Clara kicking off the action at 10 a.m. on Friday. After the all of the teams have met, they will be seeded and play off for the tournament title. Stanford meets Santa Clara and Wichita State on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, and battles Pacific on Saturday at noon.

LAST WEEK: Stanford opened the 2008 season last weekend with four wins at the University of San Diego Tournament. Junior pitcher Missy Penna threw three shutouts, didn't allow a single run and didn't walk a single batter in 21 innings to lead Stanford to victory. In the final two games of the weekend, Stanford edged Long Beach State, 1-0, with Erin Howe hitting a walk-off double to cap the perfect weekend on Sunday. Last night, Stanford picked up its first run-rule decision of the year, besting Saint Mary's 8-0 in the team's home-opener.

LIGHTS OUT: Junior Missy Penna couldn't have been better in the Cardinal season-opener, throwing her third career no-hitter in her first outing of the year. Penna also matched the second-best performance of her career with 14 strikeouts against San Diego in the opener. Penna's dominant start didn't stop there, however. She pitched two more complete games during the weekend, finished the opening stretch with three shutouts, not allowing a single run in 21 innings. She also didn't walk a single batter in 21 innings and gave up just five hits to post a .076 opponent average and a 0.00 ERA. She finished the weekend with 27 strikeouts over the 21 innings pitched. Penna's second win against Long Beach State was the 50th of her career. She became the third pitcher in program history to reach the 500 strikeout plateau on Friday. With her work against Saint Mary's included, Penna has still not allowed a single run nor walked a single batter in 25 innings pitched. She threw four hitless innings against the Gaels.

HITLESS THROUGH SEVEN: Missy Penna's no-hitter against San Diego last Friday was the third of her career and the 14th in program history. Penna also kept UC Davis hitless as a freshman on Mar. 26, 2006 and Saint Mary's hitless last year, on Apr. 11, 2007. Dana Sorensen holds the program record with five career no-hitters.

THE AWARDS FLOW IN: For her efforts this weekend, Missy Penna was named the USA Softball National Player of the Week as well as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. Penna is the fifth Stanford player to earn a national weekly honor, joining Lauren Lappin, Dana Sorensen, Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson. The Pac-10 award in the second of Penna's career, as she also earned the award following the FIU/adidas Invitational last year.

SUDDEN IMPACT: Two Stanford freshmen made an immediate impact in their first collegiates weekends. First baseman Melisa Koutz led the Cardinal with a .429 batting average, and smashed two critical doubles in the final two games of the weekend. In the team's first game against Long Beach State, she went 2-for-3 and stole a critical base that allowed the game-winning run to score. In the second game with the 49ers, Koutz doubled in the bottom of the seventh, putting a runner on for what proved to be the game-winning run. Freshman pitcher Ashley Chinn also made a successful debut for Stanford. The local product from Belmont pitched a complete game against Illinois-Chicago, and allowed just five hits and one earned run.

HOWE DO YOU LIKE THAT?: Senior Erin Howe came through offensively for the Cardinal when it counted this weekend. Against Long Beach State on Sunday, she hit back-to-back doubles to the same spot in left center field. Her second double in the bottom of the seventh scored Michelle Schroeder for the game-winning run.

FIRST LONG BOMB: Sophomore Rosey Neill smashed the first homerun of 2008 last weekend, going deep over the 225 marker in center field on Saturday. Her blast, the eighth long ball of her career, drove in three runs to lead Stanford for the weekend.

BACK TO BUSINESS: Senior Tricia Aggabao went 2-for-3 against Saint Mary's last night, climbing back into her comfortable .300+ batting range. Aggabao has hit above .300 for the last two years, and is the only current Cardinal player to have more than one .300 or better season under her belt.

PICK YOUR PITCH: Junior Maddy Coon knows how to be selective when she steps up to the plate. In her 13 times up over the weekend, Coon walked six times, solely accounting for 60 percent of the free bases earned by the Cardinal. Against Saint Mary's, she walked three more times, and has now earned nine of the 20 Stanford walks. As a result, she leads the team with a .625 on-base percentage. Just a junior, Coon is already seventh on the Stanford career walks chart with 67.

2007 IN REVIEW: In 2007, Stanford posted its 11th consecutive winning season with a 35-21-1 overall record, earned an NCAA berth for the tenth-straight time and advanced to the Regional Championship. Newcomer Alissa Haber led the Cardinal with a .365 batting average, while pitcher Missy Penna notched 12 shutouts, 25 wins and 308 strikeouts. The Cardinal won two games at the NCAA Regional at Smith Family Stadium, but was eliminated by the LSU Tigers in the Regional Championship.

THE ONES TO WATCH: Junior pitcher Missy Penna and sophomore center fielder Alissa Haber were listed among the nation's most promising players for 2008 when the USA Softball Top-50 Preseason Player of the Year Watch List. Both Haber and Penna were All-Pacific Region picks last year, and Haber earned third-team All-America accolades. As a freshman last year, Haber led the Cardinal in nearly every offensive category, while Penna became just the second pitcher in Stanford history to record 300 or more strikeouts in a season. Both players are now in contention for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate softball.

BACK IN ACTION: Stanford returns two All-Americans, three All-Pacific Region selections and seven All-Pac-10 players to the field in 2008. Sophomore Alissa Haber is coming off of her first career All-America honor, and senior Michelle Smith, a three-time All-Pac-10 pick and 2005 all-region pick, was an All-American in 2005. Junior Missy Penna was an all-region selection last year, and is a two-time All-Pac-10 choice. Becky McCullough, Tricia Aggabao, Shannon Koplitz and Maddy Coon have also been listed among the Pac-10's best in their careers.

NEW TO THE FIELD: Five new faces appear on the Cardinal roster this season, with all five being standouts from around California. Outfielder Autumn Albers is a four-time All-East Bay selection from Danville, while Ashley Chinn is a three-time Peninsula Athletic League Pitcher of the Year from Belmont. Catcher Brittany Minder is an all-state selection from Moreno Valley, and Melisa Koutz is a four-time All-Foothill League infielder from Valencia. The class is rounded out by infielder Erikka Moreno, a four-time All-Trinity League selection from Villa Park.

PAC-10 RUNDOWN: The Cardinal softball team was picked to finish fourth in the strongest collegiate softball conference in the country last week, when the annual Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll was released. All eight Pac-10 teams were chosen to participate in the NCAA Tournament in 2007, with three teams advancing to the Women's College World Series. Arizona, which won both the conference and national titles last year, was voted to repeat its championship, while Arizona State and UCLA were picked to finish second and third, respectively. The Pac-10 has claimed 19 of the 26 all-time NCAA softball titles, and landed a team in the national title game 24 times. The league has sent at least seven of its eight teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine years.

TEAM USA TIES: Head Coach John Rittman was recently named to the coaching staff for the U.S. Olympic Team, where two former Cardinal standouts, Jessica Mendoza and Lauren Lappin, are currently training for the 2008 Beijing Games. Current Stanford sophomores Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber were both members of the USA Junior National Team that won a gold medal at the ISF Junior World Championship in Enschede, Netherlands last summer.

RECORDS WATCH: With the start of the 2008 season, a number of current Cardinal players resume their climbs up the program's career charts. Senior Michelle Smith, who shattered the single-season homerun record as a freshman, is looking to do the same to a few career records this year. Smith is fourth on the career homerun chart (31), fifth on the career RBI chart (138), sixth on the career assist chart (325) and tenth on the career doubles chart (27). Junior Maddy Coon is among the program's all-time leaders in homeruns (8th, 13) and walks (7th, 67). Seniors Anna Beardman and Tricia Aggabao are among the program's leaders in triples, while senior Erin Howe is fifth on the all-time putouts list (797).

PITCHING TO THE TOP: Stanford's two returning pitchers are both among the program's best to ever enter the circle. Junior Missy Penna is fifth all-time with 51 career wins and third with 517 career strikeouts. Senior Becky McCullough is eighth all-time with 41 career wins and fifth with 288 career strikeouts.

RITTMAN SIGNS ANOTHER ONE: John Rittman and his staff have signed yet another top-notch recruiting class for the 2008-09 school year. The class is headlined by Ashley Hansen (Tempe, Ariz.) who was the only high school player invited to the U.S. National Team tryouts in September. Additionally, Rittman has signed Jenna Becerra (Westlake Village, Calif.), Christina Goswiller (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Maya Burns (San Francisco, Calif.), Sarah Hassman (Cupertino, Calif.) and Mary Kate Smith (Tampa, Fla.).

NATIONAL POLLS: After winning its first four games, the Cardinal moved up in both the USA Today/NFCA Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. This week, the team came in at No. 13 and No. 14, respectively. Stanford has been ranked in every regular-season NFCA poll for the last decade, dating back to Feb. 25, 1998. The squad reached a program-high No. 2 national ranking on two occasions during the 2002 season.

STANFORD IN HOME TOURNEYS: Stanford is a combined 65-10 in tournaments hosted on the Farm. Last season, Stanford swept two of its three home tournaments and posted a 12-1 record at the events.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: Stanford is no stranger to Santa Clara or Pacific, having met the two teams a combined 63 times. Stanford is 32-4 all-time against the Broncos, defeated them twice last season and has won the last 30 meetings dating back to 1995. Stanford is 17-10 all-time against the Tigers, and topped them 6-0 at the Stanford Invitational last February. Stanford last lost to Pacific on Feb. 6, 2005. Stanford and Wichita State have played just once, with Stanford winning 7-2 at the Campbell Cartier Classic in 1999.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos are coming off of a 12-47 season and a last place finish in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. First year Head Coach Lisa Mize and the Broncos are 0-5 after their first weekend of play, falling three times by run-rule. Sophomore Jennifer Clarke is the top returning offensive player for the Broncos, after hitting .240 as a rookie last season. Santa Clara also returns both of its top pitchers, Jerrica Castagno and Jackie Morales. Castago led the team with a 3.65 ERA last season, while Morales picked up a team-high seven wins and struck out 84 batters.

SCOUTING WICHITA STATE: Head Coach Mike Perniciaro and the Wichita State Shockers finished fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference last season and posted a 37-28 record. In their opening weekend of 2008, they split with both Kentucky and Chattanooga to post a 2-2 record. Included in the team's ten returning letterwinners are 2007 All-Midwest Region selections Brittnee Barnett and Ashly Bright. Barnett led the team with a .348 batting average last year, along with 14 doubles. In the circle, Bright posted 201 strikouts and led the team with a 2.44 ERA. Senior Cynthia Verhulst in another top returner for the Shockers, pacing the team with 40 RBI and 15 homeruns in 2007.

SCOUTING PACIFIC: The Pacific Tigers finished fifth in the Big West last season and nabbed an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The team won two postseason games to advance to the Tucson Regional Championship, but was eliminated by eventual national champion Arizona. This season, the Tigers are 1-3 after splitting with Saint Mary's and being swept by Fresno State. Leading the way offensively for Pacific is junior Casey Goldsand, who hit .361 and earned All-West Region honors last season. Pitchers Chelsea Engle and Alice Jorgensen both return as 2007 All-Big West picks, after combining for 216 strikeouts and 28 wins in 2007.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 12th season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 465-224-3 (.674) career record to start 2008. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 11 consecutive winning seasons, ten straight NCAA Tournament appearances and nine 40-win seasons. Under Rittman, Stanford has claimed a share of its first conference championship and made two appearances in the Women's College World Series. Recently, Rittman, who has been a member of the U.S. National Team coaching staff since 2001, was named an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Olympic Team that will compete at the Games in Beijing, China this summer.

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