Stanford Hosts San Jose State Tuesday To Begin Final Home Stand

April 21, 2008

THE WEEK AHEAD: The No. 7/8 Stanford softball team (40-8) will battle the San Jose State Spartans (23-28) on Tuesday in its last regular-season non-conference contest. The two teams will square off at 6 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium to begin Stanford's final home week of the 2008 season. The Cardinal also meets Washington and UCLA at home, Friday through Sunday.

LAST TIME OUT: Stanford took two out of three games from No. 21/23 Cal last week, winning the series with the Bears for the second time in the last three years. Stanford posted a late comeback on Friday to win 4-3 in eight innings, with Anna Beardman cracking the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth. A 5-1 victory on Saturday gave Stanford its 40th win. On Sunday, the Cardinal was beat by a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning, falling for the first time in seven Pac-10 games.

ALREADY AT 40: Stanford won its 40th game of the year on Saturday, clinching the program's tenth 40-win season under Head Coach John Rittman. Notably, the Cardinal hit No. 40 before the month of May for just the second time in school history. The 2001 WCWS team that won a school-record 54 games was the only other Stanford team to do so.

700 K's AND COUNTING: Junior pitcher Missy Penna became the second pitcher in school history to record 700 career strikeouts last month, and now is just 15 K's short of 800. Three-time All-American Dana Sorensen is the only other player to have reached either milestone. The Stanford ace has reached double-figures 14 times this season, including a 15-K performance against Campbell last month. That performance was just one short of the program-record 16 she recorded against Northwestern last February. With 232.1 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 1.02 ERA, averages 9.0 strikeouts per game and carries a .142 opposing average. With 298 total K's this year, Penna is second only to herself (2007) and Sorensen (2003 and 2004) on Stanford's single-season list. This week, she needs two strikeouts to secure her second consecutive 300-K season. With ten regular-season games remaining, Penna is very much on pace to break Sorensen's single-season record (358).

PERFORMING IN THE PAC: Senior Erin Howe and freshman Melisa Koutz have stepped up their games at the most important time of the season. Howe is second on the team with a .333 average in conference play, and Howe and Koutz are the only two players on the squad that are batting better in Pac-10 games than overall. Sophomores Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber are hitting over .300 in conference games as well, with Neill pacing the team with a .343 conference average.

SOLID AVERAGE: With a .395 batting average this season, sophomore Alissa Haber is currently keeping a up clip that ranks second only to Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza in the Stanford record books. Haber's career average to date (.379) is also second only to Mendoza (.416).

BRINGING `EM AROUND: While all the focus is on her homerun total, sophomore Rosey Neill is also posting impressive numbers in the RBI column. With three more RBI, Neill will become just the sixth player in school history to notch 50 or more RBI in one season. Teammate Michelle Smith accomplished the feat in 2005.

STILL HUNTING FOR THE RECORD: Sophomore catcher Rosey Neill continues to lead the Pac-10 with 17 homeruns, and remains in the hunt to beat teammate Michelle Smith's single-season homerun record (19) set in 2005. Neill, who was among the top-three nationally in homeruns in the latest national stat rankings, has homered all but one week of the 2008 season. Thanks in part to all of those bombs, she is also one of the nation's best in slugging percentage (.818).

PAC-10 WIN LEADER CONTINUES TO PERFORM: Missy Penna, the Pac-10's leader in wins, is not only one of best strikeout pitchers in school history, but she is also one of the winningest. After pitching three more complete games last weekend, Penna now has 75 career victories, second only to Dana Sorensen (105) on the program's career list. With 28 wins on the year, Penna is now second on the school's single-season win chart as well. Only Sorensen has won more games in a season. The three-time All-American won 34 games in 2004 when she led the team to the Women's College World Series and a third place national finish.

RITTMAN NABS 500: With Stanford's decisive 10-1 win over Oregon State two weeks ago, Head Coach John Rittman collected his 500th career win. 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 as a head coach. He has boosted his record to 505-232-3 (.684) since the 2008 season began.

12 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS: Head Coach John Rittman has already ensured that his team will record its 12th straight winning season this year. With a 40-8 record (.833), Stanford has been guaranteed to finish over .500 since late March.

THE LONG...: Stanford has played three extra-inning games in Pac-10 play already, and weathered all three on the back of pitcher Missy Penna. Penna threw a two-hitter in her latest extra-long escapade on Friday, and eventually won her 27th game that night. The 13 innings thrown by Penna against Arizona State on Mar. 30 matched a program-record for innings thrown in a single contest. Before conference play, Stanford's only extra-inning game came on Feb. 21 against Florida Atlantic. Stanford is 2-2 in extra-inning games this year.

...AND SHORT OF IT: Stanford has won 14 games by eight or more runs this season. By run-ruling Santa Clara last Tuesday, the team set a new school record for run-rule wins in a single season (previous record was 13 in 1999 and 2005). Last year, the team run-ruled just eight opponents.

DOUBLE UP: Sophomore Alissa Haber enters this week as the Pac-10's leader in doubles, and is just two short of etching her name on the school's career top-10 list. The center fielder, who led the Cardinal with 15 doubles last year, is just one double short of matching that mark (which ranked among the Stanford single-season top-10) this season. With nine doubles, senior Tricia Aggabao has already doubled her career double total this season alone.

THE BEST TEAM EVER?: With its efforts so far this year, the 2008 Cardinal has put itself in the company of the greatest Stanford squads ever. The team's current batting average (.293) is second best in school history, and its ERA (1.12) is better than any team to date. The team is just the fourth squad in school history to hit 40 homeruns, and has already shattered the team walk record with 214 on the year. Stanford's current .974 fielding percentage is only five points below the program's all-time best mark.

AMONG THE DEFENSIVE GREATS: Senior Michelle Smith joined a group of the greatest defensive players in school history earlier this month. On Apr. 12, the Cardinal third baseman recorded her 400th career assist, joining Lauren Lappin, Michelle Schneider and Robin Walker as the only players in school history to reach the 400-assist landmark.

COON SEEKS QUADRUPLE 100: Two weeks ago, junior Maddy Coon scored her 100th career run and became the second player in school history to reach 100 career walks. With 100 hits already under her belt, Coon needs two more RBI to reach 100 and become the second player in school history to hit 100 in four different offensive categories. Sarah Beeson is the only other Cardinal player so far to accomplish the feat.

RIGHT OFF THE BAT: When sophomore Alissa Haber goes deep, she doesn't waste time. The Cardinal center fielder has six homeruns this year, and four of those have come on Stanford's first at bat of the game. The Cardinal is 18-1 when scoring in the first inning. Haber been the one to score that first run in 15 of those games.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: The Stanford team has already combined for 73 doubles, three triples and 42 homeruns this season. With a total of 118 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging nearly 2.5 per game! How does that stack up? With three weeks left in the season, Stanford has already surpassed both its double and homerun total from last year and has become just the fourth team in school history to hit 40 or more homeruns (2001, 2002 and 2005 were the others). Sophomore Alissa Haber leads the team with 14 doubles, while fellow sophomore Rosey Neill paces the squad with 17 homeruns. Stanford has recorded at least one extra-base hit in 45 out of its 48 contests so far.

A PRESEASON TO REMEMBER: Stanford recorded arguably its best preseason in school history this year, setting a number of program bests. The Cardinal won its first 15 games, the best start in school history and the program's second-longest winning streak overall. The squad went on to nab its 30th win on Mar. 22, hitting the milestone at the earliest date in program history (and for just the third time before the month of April). Despite playing a schedule that included five nationally-ranked teams, Stanford entered Pac-10 play with its best winning percentage in school history (.941). Finally, the squad scored in a program-record 35 straight games before being shut out.

PICK YOUR PITCH: Maddy Coon broke the program's single-season walk record before the first week of Pac-10 play was even complete, and has gone on to simply obliterate that record. Coon picked up another walk against Cal, and now has walked a whopping 45 times. Her record tops the previous 33-walk mark set in 2002 by Sarah Beeson. Just a junior, she is second only to Beeson in career walks with 103 (to Beeson's 115). On Feb. 29 against St. John's, Coon walked a school-record four times. In the latest national rankings, Coon was listed fourth in walks per game. Senior Erin Howe isn't far behind, needing just two walks to be second only to Coon on the single-season chart.

SOPHOMORE SLUMP? NOT EVEN CLOSE...: The Stanford sophomore class has provided the biggest jolt of offense for the Cardinal this season. Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber are pacing the team with batting averages of .380 and .395, respectively, and are two of the top offensive players in the Pac-10. Combined, the sophomore class has tallied 92 runs (36 percent), 143 hits (41 percent), 32 doubles (44 percent) and 26 homeruns (62 percent). A sophomore has scored a run in 41 of the team's 48 games, and recorded a hit in 46 of them.

OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: Stanford already has 42 homeruns this year, the fourth highest team total in program history. Sophomore Rosey Neill has accounted for 17 of those, and, with three weeks left in the regular-season, she is just three short of teammate Michelle Smith's single-season record (19 in 2005). Smith, who has seven homeruns this year, stands second only to Mendoza on the school'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. Sophomore Alissa Haber and senior Erin Howe are just two homeruns shy of joining them.

THERE WHEN YOU NEED `EM: Who's best to have at the plate when the team needs it most? Sophomore Alissa Haber has been most consistent in pressure situations, hitting .442 with runners on, .474 with runners in scoring position and .389 with two outs. Rosey Neill paces the squad with 21 two-out RBI, while freshman Melisa Koutz has provided the game-winning hit in two of the team's Pac-10 wins and is a team-best 6-for-11 (.545) with bases loaded.

LEAVING `EM EMPTY-HANDED: As a team, Stanford has shut out 19 opponents this season, held 14 more to just a single run and allowed just one opponent more than five runs. On the flip side, Stanford has only been shut out three times this year, and has scored five or more runs 25 times. The Cardinal averages 5.4 runs per game, and holds opponents to just 1.3.

CATCH US IF YOU CAN: Stanford players have stolen 51 bases this year, already the fifth-best team total in school history. Senior Tricia Aggabao paces the Cardinal with 16 stolen bases on the season. Having already more than doubled her career total this year alone, Aggabao is the seventh-best base-stealer on the program's career chart (25). Fellow senior Anna Beardman joined Aggabao on the chart against UC Davis last month, stealing two bases to climb into the tenth spot on the list with 19. Aggabao's 16 steals in 2008 are second only to seasons posted by Katherine Hoffman and Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza.

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 second all-time in wins (75) and strikeouts (785). Senior Becky McCullough is tied for seventh all-time with 42 career wins and is fifth with 293 career strikeouts. Freshman Ashley Chinn's 11 wins already put her tenth on the all-time win list.

PERFECTLY DONE: Freshman pitcher Ashley Chinn has thrown two no-hitters in her ten complete games for the Cardinal this year. Last week, the rookie threw the school's 16th no-hitter against Santa Clara, and pitched the school's seventh perfect game against Princeton on Mar. 22. Prior to Chinn, Dana Sorensen was the last player to throw a perfect game, doing so against Hawaii on Mar. 28, 2004. The Cardinal newcomer owns an 11-1 record, and boasts a 1.39 ERA.

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 catcher Rosey Neill are among the 25 finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award, as released by the Amateur Softball Association two weeks ago. Penna, who was also a member of the original preseason top-50 watch list, owns a 1.02 ERA and leads the Pac-10 with 28 wins. Neill, who was added to the top-25 list based on her accomplishments this season, is among the nation's top players in both slugging percentage (.818) and homeruns (0.35 per game). Both Cardinal 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 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. 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: In the Apr. 15 release, the Cardinal moved up a spot to No. 7 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, and remained at No. 8 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. 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.

SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE: The Spartans are 23-28 this year and were swept by Fresno State in their most recent series. Leading the way for SJSU is sophomore outfielder Kayla Hayes, who is hitting .336 on the year. Junior shortstop Kelli Fangonilo is close behind at .327 with eight doubles, while junior catcher Brittany McConnell has ten homeruns and a team-best 37 RBI. In the circle, ace Deanna Mauer is 12-11 with 152 K's and a 3.22 ERA.

THE SERIES WITH THE SPARTANS: Stanford is 17-10 all-time against the Spartans, but has won 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams. Stanford's only loss to the Spartans in the last decade was a 1-0 decision on May 8, 2002 in San Jose. Last season, Stanford recorded 11 hits and claimed a 5-3 win.

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 505-232-3 (.684) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 12 consecutive winning seasons, ten straight NCAA Tournament appearances and ten 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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