No. 8/8 Stanford Heads To Oregon For Three More Conference Contests

April 29, 2008

UP NEXT: The No. 8/8 Stanford softball team (42-10) travels north to Oregon this week, meeting Oregon State (26-25) and Oregon (29-22) in a three-game series, Friday through Sunday. The Cardinal will look to finish off a season sweep of the Ducks on Friday afternoon in Eugene, and will look to clinch the series with the Beavers on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Corvallis. Stanford will finish the weekend with its final contest against Oregon State at noon on Sunday.

LAST TIME OUT: A walk-off walk by Rosey Neill helped Stanford win a 10-inning battle with the Washington Huskies last Friday, 2-1. The Cardinal clinched the series between the two teams for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Stanford fell in both meetings with fourth-ranked UCLA on Saturday and Sunday, suffering a 1-0 loss in the first game, and a 4-1 loss in the second.

800 IN THE BOOKS: Junior pitcher Missy Penna struck out the 800th batter of her career against Washington last Friday, becoming just the second pitcher in school history to reach the milestone (three-time All-American Dana Sorensen was the other). The Stanford ace has reached double-figures 15 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 season. With 261.2 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 1.07 ERA, averages 8.7 strikeouts per game and carries a .153 opposing average.

OVER 300 AND ON TO THE RECORD: With 327 K's this year, Missy Penna is on pace to break Stanford's single-season strikeout record, and could do so as early as this weekend. Against San Jose State on Tuesday, Penna nabbed her 300th strikeout of the year to secure 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 six regular-season games remaining, Penna is just 31 strikeouts short of Sorensen's single-season record (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 77 career victories, second only to Dana Sorensen (105) on the program's career list. Penna is just the second player in Stanford history to record 30 wins in a single season, and is just four wins short of Sorensen's record - 34 wins in 2004, when she led the team to the Women's College World Series and a third place national finish.

WALKING TO VICTORY: The 2008 team has already established itself as by far the most patient team in school history. The squad has walked a school record 231 times, 33 more times than the previous school best. On Friday, the team proved that walks can win games, as Michelle Smith and Rosey Neill both recorded bases-loaded walks to account for Stanford's two runs.

HOWE STEPS IT UP: Senior Erin Howe has stepped up her game at the right time of the season. The squad's designated player is batting .314 in Pac-10 games, 19 points above her overall average of .294. She is the only Stanford player to be performing better than her average against the tougher conference competition. Howe has hit in nine of the team's 15 Pac-10 games, and, combined with a team-high 15 conference base on balls, boasts a team-leading .520 conference on-base percentage.

ALREADY AT 40: Stanford won its 40th game of the year on Apr. 19, 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.

SOLID AVERAGE: With a .382 batting average this season, sophomore Alissa Haber is currently keeping a up clip that ranks among the school's single-season top-10. Haber's career average to date (.373) is second only to Olympic gold medalist Jessica 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 two 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-10 nationally in homeruns in the latest national stat rankings, has homered all but two weekends of the 2008 season. Thanks in part to all of those bombs, she is also one of the nation's best in slugging percentage (.781).

RITTMAN NABS 500: With Stanford's decisive 10-1 win over Oregon State on Apr. 11, 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 507-234-3 (.683) 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 42-10 record (.808), Stanford has been guaranteed to finish over .500 since late March.

THE LONG...: Stanford has played four extra-inning games in Pac-10 play already, and weathered all four on the back of pitcher Missy Penna. Penna won a battle with Washington in her latest extra-long escapade on Friday to claim her 30th win. 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 3-2 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 DUTY: Sophomore Alissa Haber entered this week with one of the conference's top-10 double totals (14). In just her second year of collegiate play, Haber is just two doubles 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 (.286) is the third best in school history, and its ERA (1.16) 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 231 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 last 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 74 doubles, three triples and 44 homeruns this season. With a total of 121 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging 2.3 per game! How does that stack up? With two 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 47 out of its 52 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 Washington, and now has walked a whopping 46 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 104 (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 fifth in walks per game. Senior Erin Howe isn't far behind. Her 35 walks also top Beeson's previous single-season record, and are second only to Coon's 46 this year.

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 .370 and .382, respectively, and are two of the top offensive players in the Pac-10. Combined, the sophomore class has tallied 97 runs (36 percent), 151 hits (41 percent), 32 doubles (43 percent) and 27 homeruns (61 percent). A sophomore has scored a run in 43 of the team's 52 games, and recorded a hit in 50 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 two weeks left in the regular-season, she is just two 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 .436 with runners on, .462 with runners in scoring position and .359 with two outs. Rosey Neill paces the squad with 22 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 16 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 four times this year, and has scored five or more runs 26 times. The Cardinal averages 5.1 runs per game, and holds opponents to just 1.4.

CATCH US IF YOU CAN: Stanford players have stolen 54 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. Two weeks ago, 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 1.07 ERA and leads the Pac-10 with 30 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 (.781) and homeruns (0.33 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. 8 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 OREGON: Oregon returns 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 2-2 and was eliminated by South Carolina at the Columbia Regional. The Ducks are 29-22, with a 2-11 mark in conference play, and knocked off Arizona for the second time last weekend. Sophomore outfielder Neena Bryant has had a breakout season, leading the Ducks with a .376 average, 10 doubles, nine homeruns and 42 RBI. Two 2007 All-Region picks also return to the Oregon lineup - senior Joanna Gail (.284) and junior Sari-Jane Jenkins (.295). Alicia Cook leads the Ducks in the circle with 13 wins and 130 strikeouts, while boasting a 2.41 ERA.

THE SERIES WITH THE DUCKS: Stanford holds a slight edge in the series with Oregon, 24-20, and has already clinched the series with the Ducks for the first time since 2005. On Apr. 12, freshman Melisa Koutz delivered the game-winning hit in a 1-0 win, and on Apr. 13, Stanford scored twice in the third inning and hung on for a 2-1 win.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers are coming off of a fifth-place conference finish and their ninth-straight NCAA Regional appearance, where they were eliminated by Michigan in the championship game. Currently holding a 26-25 record and a 4-10 mark in the Pac-10, the Beavers are led by All-American ultility player Cambria Miranda with a .284 average, 10 doubles and eight homeruns. Sophomore Dani Chisholm has had an outstanding year as well with 55 hits and a .333 batting average, and freshman McKenna Lowe is hitting at a .325 clip. Sophomore pitcher Kelly Dyer owns a 2.67 ERA, has won 17 games and struck out 167 batters.

THE SERIES WITH THE BEAVERS: The Cardinal is 31-15 all-time against the Beavers, good for its best winning percentage against a Pac-10 school (.674). Stanford dropped the series with Oregon State last season for the first time since the league began playing three-game series' in 2000, but demolished the Beavers in the only game the teams have played this season. Stanford scored 10 runs to run-rule Oregon State, 10-1, on Apr. 11, earning Head Coach John Rittman his 500th 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 507-234-3 (.683) 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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