No. 5/5 Cardinal Resumes Play At Stanford Invitational II

March 18, 2008

Stanford, Calif. - THE WEEK AHEAD: After a week respite for final exams, the Stanford softball team is back for one more preseason surge before Pac-10 play. The Cardinal will host it last of three home tournaments this weekend, welcoming Princeton, BYU, East Carolina and Wisconsin to the Farm for the Stanford Invitational II.

LAST TIME OUT: The Cardinal played seven games in its last week before finals and went a perfect 7-0. Behind Alissa Haber's .571 weekend average and Missy Penna's 37 strikeouts, the Cardinal boosted its record to 27-2 and captured the Stanford Classic title.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: The Stanford team has already combined for 54 doubles, two triples and 28 homeruns this season. With a total of 84 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging nearly three per game. How does that stack up? The conference season has yet to begin, and Stanford already has more than 80 percent of its double total from last year (67) and is just five long balls short of reaching its homerun total from last year (33). Junior Maddy Coon and sophomore Alissa Haber lead the team with eight doubles apiece, while sophomore Rosey Neill paces the squad with ten homeruns. Stanford has recorded at least one extra-base hit in every contest this season.

SHOTGUN START: Stanford's season-opening win streak ended Feb. 24, but not before the 2008 Cardinal reached a very notable landmark. Stanford won its first 15 games, the best start in program history. The previous program record was 12 games, set by the 2001 team that went on to win a school record 54 games and finish third at the Women's College World Series. The streak was also Stanford's second longest overall, topped only by a 16-game run recorded by the 2002 squad. On Mar. 1, the Cardinal posted its 20th win, marking the earliest date the team has hit the milestone in program history. If the Cardinal can win three of its four games this weekend, the team will also be the earliest in program history to reach 30 wins.

ON THE WAY TO 700: Junior pitcher Missy Penna continues to rack up the K's this season. The Stanford ace, who leads the Pac-10 in wins and is second in strikeouts, became just the second player in program history to reach 600 career strikeouts on Mar. 1. Just a junior, she is now well on her way to the 700 landmark, with 648 strikeouts to date. Penna has reached double-figures seven times this season, including a 15-K performance against Campbell earlier this month. That performance was just one short of the program-record 16 she recorded against Northwestern last February. With 123 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 0.97 ERA, averages 9.2 strikeouts per game and carries a .126 opposing average.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: Stanford run-ruled its ninth opponent of the year at the Stanford Classic two weeks ago, surpassing its total from last year (8) less than a month into the season. Stanford played its only extra inning game on Feb. 21, and won a long one for the first time since May 2, 2006.

KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE: Senior Tricia Aggabao is on the team's longest current hitting streak, having recorded a hit in each of the last five games. Sophomore Alissa Haber has scored at least once in each of the last ten games, and hit in six of the last seven contests. Sophomore Rosey Neill recorded the longest streak yet, hitting in 10 consecutive games between Feb. 27 and Mar. 7.

HOME SWEET HOME: Stanford is undefeated at home this season, with a perfect 14-0 mark at Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal is amidst a 16-game home stand, which began on Mar. 4. The team will not play its next road game until Apr. 2 at Sacramento State.

CHINN STEPS UP: Freshman pitcher Ashley Chinn has posted an impressive start to her collegiate career. So far, she has posted a 9-0 record and boasts a 1.31 ERA. Against Boston College on Mar. 4, she threw a two-hitter and struck out a career-high 11 batters. In her last outing against Campbell, the Belmont, Callif. native secured her first career shutout.

OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: As a team, Stanford already has 28 homeruns this season. Sophomore Rosey Neill has accounted for 10 of those, earning herself a spot among the top-10 on Stanford's single-season homerun list. Neill and fellow sophomore Alissa Haber have already more than doubled their career totals this year, and, with seven homeruns on the season, senior Michelle Smith stands second only to Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza on Stanford's career homerun chart (38 HR's). Notably, three of the top-10 long ball hitters in program history (Smith, Neill and Maddy Coon) are on of the current roster.

OUT OF THE GATES: Sophomore Alissa Haber has given the Cardinal offense quite a lead-off jolt on more than one occasion this season. The Cardinal center fielder has five homeruns this year, and three of those have come on Stanford's first at bat of the game.

THERE WHEN YOU NEED `EM: Who's best to have at the plate when the team needs it most? Freshman Melisa Koutz, the only rookie in the Cardinal order, is most likely to come through in almost every pressure situation. The rookie is the most likely to get a hit with runners on base (.419), is hitting a team-high .452 with runners in scoring position, hits a team-high .450 with two outs and is 6-for-11 (.545) with bases loaded. Sophomore Rosey Neill paces the squad with 15 two-out RBI.

THE 300 CLUB: Stanford is 29 games into the 2008 season, and the team's batting averages continue to be impressive. Seven of the nine batters in the starting lineup are hitting above .300, and the entire order boasts on-base percentages of .300 or better. Nine players have already recorded double-figure hits this year and every single starter has at least one extra-base hit. As a team, Stanford is hitting .325, has outhit opponents 235-95 and outscored them 186-33.

LEAVING `EM EMPTY-HANDED: As a team, Stanford has shut out 12 opponents this season, held eight more to just a single run and allowed just one five-run game. On the flip side, Stanford has yet to be shut out this year, and has scored five or more runs 19 times. The Cardinal averages 6.4 runs per game, and holds opponents to just 1.1.

SISTER ACT: For the second time this season, a Cardinal player will face off against her sister. Freshman Erikka Moreno's sister Brianna is an all-conference outfielder at Princeton. Earlier this year, the Cardinal met senior Tricia Aggabao's sister, an assistant coach at San Diego.

PICK YOUR PITCH: Junior Maddy Coon knows how to be selective when she steps up to the plate. Coon has walked 26 times this season, solely accounting for more than 20 percent of the free bases earned by the Cardinal. As a result, she leads the team with a .505 on-base percentage. Just a junior, Coon is already fifth on the Stanford career walks chart with 84 and is one walk short of finding her way onto the single-season top-10 list. On Feb. 29 against St. John's, Coon walked a school-record four times.

CATCH US IF YOU CAN: Stanford players have stolen 31 bases this year. Conference play is still a week away and the Cardinal is just four steals short of its entire steal total from 2007 (35). Senior Tricia Aggabao paces the Cardinal with nine stolen bases on the season. Her last one earned her a place among the school's top-10 base-stealers of all-time.

ON TRACK FOR 500: Head Coach John Rittman is on track for an important career milestone this season. Rittman, who currently has 492 career wins, could hit his 500th as soon as next weekend. Rittman entered the 2008 season as one of the top-25 winningest all-time Division I coaches with a .674 winning percentage in his 11 seasons a head coach. Rittman has boosted his record to 492-226-3 (.684) since the 2008 season began.

RECORDS WATCH: A number of current Cardinal players resumed their climbs up the program's career charts in the team's last outing. 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 currently second on the career homerun chart (38), third on the career RBI chart (164), tenth on the career runs chart (98), tenth on the career hits chart (174), tied for seventh on the career walks chart (68), fourth on the career assist chart (371) and tied for tenth on the career doubles chart (31). Junior Maddy Coon is among the program's all-time leaders in homeruns (9th, 16), doubles (9th, 32) and walks (5th, 84). 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). Sophomore Rosey Neill has found her way onto the career homeruns chart (8th, 17) as well as the career putouts chart (7th, 606). Aggabao is now among the all-time top-10 in career steals (t-10th, 18).

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 third all-time in wins (64) and second in strikeouts (648). Senior Becky McCullough is tied for seventh all-time with 42 career wins and is fifth with 293 career strikeouts. Freshman Ashley Chinn's nine wins already put her tenth on the all-time win list.

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 Stanford 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 game.

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. Haber was also named to ESPN's Preseason All-America Team, distinguishing her as one of the nation's 12 most promising players.

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, when the annual Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll was released on Jan. 29. 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.

NO-HITTER CHATTER: Missy Penna's no-hitter against San Diego in the season-opener 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. Including Penna, only five Stanford players have thrown no-hitters, and Dana Sorensen holds the program record with five. Penna's performance helped her earn USA Softball's National Player of the Week award as well as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor. Penna is the fifth Stanford player to earn a national weekly honor, joining Lauren Lappin, Dana Sorensen, Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson.

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: Despite taking the week off, the Cardinal continued to ascend the ranks of the USA Today/NFCA Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll last week. The team came in at No. 5 in both polls, its highest rank of the season. 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. This is the first time Stanford has been ranked in the top-five since Mar. 22, 2006.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal is a combined 9-2 against its opponents this weekend. The team is 4-1 against BYU, and won the last meeting on Mar. 11, 2006 by run-rule. Stanford is 2-1 against Princeton, and beat the Tigers twice at this same tournament in 2006. The Cardinal is a perfect 3-0 versus Wisconsin, and run-ruled the Badgers in the last meeting at the 2006 Stanford Classic. Stanford and East Carolina have never met.

SCOUTING WISCONSIN: The Badgers finished with a 27-20 record in 2007, took ninth in the Big 10 last season and are off to a 7-16 start this year. So far, senior Joey Daniels has been the primary offensive threat for the squad. Daniels is hitting .371 with five doubles. Senior Lynn Anderson and junior Ricci Robben are the power-hitters on the team, combining for nine homeruns and 24 RBI. Pitchers Letty Olivarez (3.49 ERA) and Leah Vanevenhoven (4.35 ERA) share the starting role in the circle, and both have 56 strikeouts on the year.

SCOUTING PRINCETON: The Tigers finished fourth in the Ivy League last season with a 24-29 record. With three weeks of play under its belt, the team is 3-9. Leading the way for the Tigers is sophomore outfielder Kelsey Quist, who boasts a .378 average, four homeruns and 10 RBI. Three other players are hitting over .300 this season, including returning All-Ivy selections Kathryn Welch and Jamie Lettire. Junior Brianna Moreno, sister of Stanford's Erikka Moreno, was the team's only first-team all-conference pick last year. The team's top pitcher is Kristen Schaus, with a 5.03 ERA and 89 strikeouts.

SCOUTING BYU: Coming off of a Mountain West title, a 43-20 record and its best run ever in the NCAA Tournament, the Cougars are seeking to build on their 2007 success. Nine letterwinners return, including 2007 All-West Region pick Emi Snow-Willing. Snow-Willing leads the team in doubles (7), while sophomore Angeline Quiocho, a 2007 All-Big West selection, leads the team with a .391 average and ten homeruns. Three other players are batting over .300, and the Cougars (13-11) have two pitchers with ERAs under 2.00. Senior Christina Gwyn-Trice leads the way with 102 strikeouts on the year, a 1.29 ERA and a .172 opposing average.

SCOUTING EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates posted 40 wins for the 12th time in the last 14 years in 2007 (40-20), and finished second in the Conference USA standings. The team is 21-10 entering the weekend and took two out of three games from Southern Mississippi last week. Sophomore pitcher Toni Paisley, the 2007 Conference USA Freshman of the Year, boasts a team-best 1.96 ERA, but junior Brooke Swann (2.79 ERA) has thrown the majority of innings for the Pirates and has 85 strikeouts. Senior outfielder Stacey Andrews leads the squad with a .385 batting average, and is followed closely by sophomore all-conference performer Charina Sumner (.355). Another all-conference performer, junior Jessica Johnson, is the power-hitter on the team, with 23 RBI and five homeruns.

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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