Stanford Meets Saint Mary's In Tuesday Matchup

Feb. 23, 2009

Stanford, Calif. - UP NEXT: After hosting its first home tournament over the weekend, the No. 5/8 Cardinal softball team will finish out its brief homestand with a midweek game against Saint Mary's on Tuesday. Action is set to begin at 6 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.

HOT-HITTING HABER: Outfielder Alissa Haber tore up the Stanford Invitational this weekend, going 9-for-12 (.750) with six extra-base hits, including three doubles, a triple and two home runs. Carrying the team to a perfect 4-0 record in its first home weekend, Haber posted an .800 on-base percentage, slugged 1.667 and drove in five Stanford runs. Haber posted at least one extra-base hit in each of the four games, but her weekend was highlighted by a six-hit day on Saturday. Over two games against Western Kentucky and Notre Dame, Haber went 6-for-7 and hit for a combined cycle with two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run. She went a perfect 4-for-4 against the Hilltoppers, marking the third four-hit game of her career.

PAC-10 AWARD DOMINATION: With Ashley Hansen earning the Pac-10 Player of the Week award last week, the Cardinal has now won both of the conference's weekly player awards and three of the four total honors. After the opening weekend, Stanford swept the awards with junior catcher Rosey Neill being named Player of the Week and senior pitcher Missy Penna being named Pitcher of the Week.

SCALING THE POLLS: Stanford moved up to No. 5 in the NFCA/USA Today poll last week, after going 4-0 at the Campbell/Cartier Classic. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season NFCA poll for more than a decade, is at its highest rank since coming in at No. 5 twice last March. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, the Cardinal remained at No. 8. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with five appearing in the top-10.

SHUTOUT RECORD FALLS!: Missy Penna shut out Notre Dame last Friday, nabbing the 36th shutout of her career. With the 2-0 win, Penna set a new school record, topping the previous top mark set by Becky Blevins in 1999.

FAB FROSH: Stanford's freshman have all lived up to their billing so far. Five freshman have made at least one start, with Ashley Hansen and Sarah Hassman getting the starting nod in all 13 games. As a rookie, Hansen is among the top-10 offensive players in the Pac-10 with a .435 batting average, a .761 slugging percentage, 20 hits, three triples and 21 RBI. Hassman owns a .323 average, while Jenna Becerra, Christina Goswiller and Maya Burns have combined for 12 hits and eight RBI. Aside from Alissa Haber, Burns was Stanford's best performer at the Stanford Nike Invitational, going 5-for-13 (.385) with three doubles.

THE STREAK IN ON: Stanford has won 11 start games. Last season, the Cardinal won 15 consecutive games to open the season, then ended the preseason on a 12-game run.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON...: Stanford's Missy Penna and Alissa Haber were among the 50 players named to the initial USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. The 50 picks represent 32 different schools and 13 different conferences. Haber and Penna were two of the 13 selections from the Pac-10. Both were also named to ESPN's Preseason All-America Second Team.

PRESEASON PICKS: Stanford was selected to finish fifth in the Pac-10 this season in the annual poll of the league's coaches. UCLA, the 2008 Pac-10 runner-up, edged defending national champion Arizona State for the top spot, while Washington and Arizona finished just ahead of the Cardinal.

NO-HITTER CHATTER: Senior picther Missy Penna threw her first no-hitter of the year against Kansas on Feb. 7. The no-hitter was the fifth of her career, tying Dana Sorensen's school record. Penna has now thrown five of the school's 17 all-time no-hitters. Sophomore Ashley Chinn threw two no-hitters, including the school's seventh perfect game, as a rookie last year.

TOP OF THE HEAP: Stanford pitcher Missy Penna remains the nation's active career strikeout leader with 985 career K's. She is currently 15 K's short of the 1,000 mark, and is second in the conference with 82 strikeouts. She also entered the year as the country's third-winningest pitcher.

ON THE WAY TO NO. 1: Senior pitcher Missy Penna resumes her climb up the Stanford charts this week, looking to systematically take down the records of three-time All-American Dana Sorensen. Penna is 12 wins, 169 strikeouts, and 92.2 innings short of the Stanford career records in each category, and will likely break all three records later this year.

FLOOD OF FREE PASSES: Just two weeks into her senior year, infielder Maddy Coon shattered the school's career walk record, passing Sarah Beeson's former mark of 115. Coon now holds every walk record in the Stanford books, with 116 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08).

COON ON THE CLIMB: Maddy Coon has also established herself on a number of the school's other top-10 lists. Currently, Coon ranks eighth in career doubles (40), seventh in home runs (24), seventh in runs (122) and seventh in RBI (118). Also with 152 hits to her name, Coon is just the second player in school history to register triple digits in four different offensive categories (Sarah Beeson `02 is the other).

HOMER QUEEN: Fresh off matching a school record and ranking 10th nationally with 19 home runs in 2008, junior catcher Rosey Neill is slugging away again to start the new year. Neill belted three homers over the opening weekend and added one more in each of the past two weekends. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill now has 31 home runs, joining four of Stanford's greatest sluggers - Jessica Mendoza `02, Jessica Allister `04, Catalina Morris `06 and Michelle Smith `08 - as the only players to have hit 30 or more career homers.

BY COMPARISON: Midway through their careers, juniors Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber have their eyes on some of the school records set by the best player in Stanford history, two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza. Neill entered her junior year with 26 home runs (and now has 31). By comparison, Mendoza hit 22 of her 50 bombs prior to her junior season. After three weekends of play, Haber now has 39 doubles to her name. Mendoza had 33 of her school-record 70 doubles after two seasons.

HARD TO HANDLE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber currently owns a .389 career batting average, a clip which stands only behind that of two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza in the Cardinal record books. After leading Stanford in nearly every offensive category the last two years, Haber has twice earned All-America accolades. She is just the third player in school history to enter her junior year as a two-time All-American, matching the accomplishments of eventual four-time All-American Mendoza and eventual three-time All-American Dana Sorensen. Five players on the Cardinal squad are currently carrying career batting averages that would rank in the school's top-10.

1,000 AND COUNTING: Junior Rosey Neill recorded her 1,000th career putout last weekend, joining former greats Sarah Beeson `02, Kellie Wiginton `00 and Jessica Allister `04 as the only Cardinal players to reach the milestone. Battery counterpart Missy Penna is 15 K's away from hitting 1,000 in that category.

QUICK WINS: Stanford has won three games by run-rule so far, putting itself in position to chase the school record it set last season. The Cardinal run-ruled 14 opponents last season, with its largest margin of victory coming against Pacific on Feb. 16 (14 runs).

SOLID VETERANS: With just five upperclassmen, the Cardinal is, for the most part, a very young team. Yet, the squad is armed with some of the Pac-10's most talented veterans at key positions. All five upperclassmen - Missy Penna, Maddy Coon, Shannon Koplitz, Alissa Haber and Rosey Neill - have been starters since the day they arrived on The Farm. The group has also been well decorated, accumulating 10 All-Pac-10 awards, six all-region honors and three All-America nods. Before the 2009 season even began, the fivesome has already combined to score 329 Cardinal runs, notch 531 hits and belt 73 home runs.

2008 IN REVIEW: Stanford is coming off a strong 2008 season in which it went 49-15 and finished fourth in the competitive Pac-10 Conference. The program posted its 10th 40-win season, recorded the second-most wins in school history, made its 11th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and made a postseason run to its third NCAA Super Regional in four years. At the end of the year, eight players were honored with All-Pac-10 awards, four received all-region recognition and two - pitcher Missy Penna and outfielder Alissa Haber - were named All-Americans.

TEAM USA TIES: Head Coach John Rittman spent last summer on the coaching staff for Team USA at the Beijing Olympic Games, marking his second appearance on the Olympic coaching staff. Two former Cardinal standouts, Jessica Mendoza `02 and Lauren Lappin `06, were on the squad that outscored opponents 58-5 over nine games and captured the silver medal. Current players Rosey Neill, Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen are all veterans of the USA Junior National Team.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 13th season at the helm of the Cardinal, head coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 526-248-3 (.679) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 12 consecutive winning seasons, 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 10 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.

STANFORD AT HOME: After one weekend of play, Stanford is still undefeated at home in 2009. The Cardinal was 27-5 at home last season.

THE SERIES WITH THE GAELS: Stanford is 24-6 in the 30 all-time meetings with Saint Mary's. Five of those six losses came prior to the 1997 season, when John Rittman took the helm of the Cardinal program. Saint Mary's last win came on April 20, 2004 in Moraga, when the Gaels squeaked out a 2-1 decision. Last year (Feb. 13), Stanford run-ruled the Gaels in five innings, 8-0.

SCOUTING SAINT MARY'S: The Gaels (1-8) are coming off a 27-26 season and a fourth-place finish in the PCSC. The team is headlined by two returning All-PCSC selections - senior catcher Sadie Dolcini and sophomore pitcher Maryanne Cronin. Junior Jenna Smith is also a top player for the Gaels, as the then-sophomore hit .282 with 11 home runs last season. Junior infielder Katherine Delpit is off to the best offensive start in 2009, hitting .448 with 13 hits and two home runs. Saint Mary's only win so far in 2009 came against Central Michigan on Feb. 14.

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