No. 7/7 Stanford Plays Washington, UCLA In Final Home Games

April 23, 2008

UP NEXT: The No. 7/7 Stanford softball team (41-8) wraps up its home schedule this week, meeting No. 21/22 Washington (25-16-1) and No. 4/4 UCLA (38-5) in a three-game series, Friday through Sunday. The Cardinal will play the rubber game with the Huskies Friday night at 6 p.m. live on CBS College Sports Network. Stanford and UCLA will square off Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

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. On Tuesday, Maddy Coon cracked her sixth homerun to help Stanford top San Jose State, 7-3.

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.

SENIOR FAREWELL: On Feb. 4, 2005, five Stanford freshmen were introduced in the starting lineup in a game against Santa Clara, and, on that day, the five played their first game in a Stanford uniform at Smith Family Stadium. Since then, those five players - Tricia Aggabao, Anna Beardman, Erin Howe, Becky McCullough and Michelle Smith - have scored 323 runs, hit 62 homers, recorded 571 hits, won 161 games, claimed the school's first Pac-10 title, captured two Regional Championships and have been instrumental in maintaining the program's place among the powerhouses of collegiate softball. This weekend, those same five players will make their last regular-season appearances at Smith Family Stadium. Prior to Sunday's contest with UCLA, the group will be honored in a pre-game Senior Day ceremony.

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 seven 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 237.2 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 1.00 ERA, averages 9.0 strikeouts per game and carries a .142 opposing average.

OVER 300 AND ON TO THE RECORD: Against San Jose State on Tuesday, Missy Penna nabbed her 300th strikeout of the year in the third inning. The Cardinal ace now has 306 total K's this season, marking her second consecutive 300-strikeout season (she had 308 last year). Three-time All-American Dana Sorensen is the only other Cardinal player to register 300 or more K's in a single season, posting 300+ in 2003 and 2004. With nine regular-season games remaining, Penna is very much on pace to break Sorensen's single-season record this year (358).

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, she is also one of the winningest. After pitching three more complete games last weekend, Penna now has 76 career victories, second only to Dana Sorensen (105) on the program's career list. With 29 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. Notably, a win on Friday could make Penna just the second player in school history to record 30 wins.

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 .396 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 (.380) is also second only to Mendoza (.416).

BRINGING `EM AROUND: While all of 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-five nationally in homeruns in the latest national stat rankings, has homered all but one weekend of the 2008 season. Thanks in part to all of those bombs, she is also one of the nation's best in slugging percentage (.813).

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 506-232-3 (.685) 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 41-8 record (.837), 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 on Apr. 15, 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 entered 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 (.294) 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 220 on the year. Stanford's current .973 fielding percentage is only six 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.

QUADRUPLE 100 FOR COON: Against San Jose State Tuesday, shortstop Maddy Coon's three-run homer earned her her 100th career RBI. Two weeks ago, she 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 as well, Coon is just the second player in school history to register 100 in four different offensive categories (Sarah Beeson is the other).

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 19-1 when scoring in the first inning. Haber been the one to score that first run in 16 of those games.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: The Stanford team has already combined for 73 doubles, three triples and 44 homeruns this season. With a total of 120 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging 2.4 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 46 out of its 49 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 one more walk 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 .381 and .396, respectively, and are two of the top offensive players in the Pac-10. Combined, the sophomore class has tallied 96 runs (36 percent), 146 hits (41 percent), 32 doubles (44 percent) and 27 homeruns (61 percent). A sophomore has scored a run in 42 of the team's 49 games, and recorded a hit in 47 of them.

OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: Stanford already has 44 homeruns this year, the third 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 .434 with runners on, .474 with runners in scoring position and .378 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 26 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 53 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, and currently holds the tenth spot on the list with 20. Aggabao's 16 steals in 2008 are second only to seasons posted by Katherine Hoffman and Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza.

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 1.45 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 1.00 ERA and leads the Pac-10 with 29 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 (.813) 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: This week, the Cardinal stands at No. 7 in both the USA Today/NFCA poll and 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 WASHINGTON: The Huskies return from an appearance in the 2007 Women's College World Series and a tie for third in the Pac-10. So far this year, the squad is 25-16-1 with a 4-7 mark in Pac-10 play. Freshman third baseman Jace Williams is the team's top hitter with a .397 average, while fellow freshman Morgan Stuart boasts the power numbers with six homeruns and 35 RBI. Yet another freshman, Aleah Macon, is the team's top pitcher with a 1.92 ERA, 14 wins and 194 strikeouts. In addition to the young talent, 2007 All-Pac-10 performers Lauren Greer and Marnie Koziol also return to the Husky lineup.

THE SERIES WITH THE HUSKIES: Washington owns the series between the Huskies and Cardinal with 30 wins to Stanford's 18. The Cardinal dropped the series last season for the first time since 2002, falling in the final two games after winning the series opener. In Seattle earlier this month, the Huskies pulled out a 4-1 upset before Melisa Koutz cracked a game-winning hit to lift Stanford to its first conference win, 3-1, the following day.

SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins posted a 37-18 record last season, tied for third in the Pac-10 and were eliminated by Loyola Marymount on the second day of their own NCAA Regional. This year, UCLA is off to a 38-5 start with a 10-2 record in the Pac-10. On the back of two-time All-American pitcher Anjelica Selden and newcomer Donna Kerr, the Bruins boast the best pitching numbers in the Pac-10. Selden owns a conference-best 0.81 ERA with 19 wins, while Kerr is 13-2 with a 0.90 ERA. Offensively, the Bruins return All-American outfielder Krista Colburn and All-Region first baseman Megan Langenfeld. The top hitter for the Bruins so far has been freshman GiOnna DiSalvatore, however, with a .381 average and 38 RBI.

THE SERIES WITH THE BRUINS: The Cardinal is 14-35 (.286) all-time against the Bruins, but has won the series between the two teams in each of the last three seasons. Last year, Stanford claimed a 6-4 victory at home, before splitting with the Bruins in Los Angeles. On Apr. 4 of this year, three costly Stanford errors allowed the Bruins to escape with a 3-1 victory.

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 506-232-3 (.685) 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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