No. 5/6 Stanford Heads Home To Build On 17-Game Win Streak

March 3, 2009

UP NEXT: After a perfect weekend at the DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton, the No. 5/6 Cardinal softball team returns home to build on the longest winning streak in school history - a 17-game run that started Feb. 7. Stanford has invited Penn State, San Diego State, Vermont, UC Davis and Illinois State to complete in the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic, which will be held at Smith Family Stadium this Friday through Sunday.

THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE: Tournament action begins on Friday at 9 a.m. with San Diego State taking on Illinois State. The event consists of five games Friday, six Saturday and four Sunday, with Stanford slated to play two each day. The Cardinal plays a doubleheader against Illinois State and Penn State beginning at 1:30 p.m. Friday and another one against San Diego State and Vermont beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Stanford takes on Vermont and UC Davis in a third doubleheader on Sunday at 11:15 a.m.

MENDOZA TO MAKE APPEARANCE: Two-time Olympic medalist Jessica Mendoza, a former four-time All-American outfielder for Stanford, is scheduled to sign autographs following the Stanford-UC Davis game on Sunday. Mendoza will be on the turf field behind Smith Family Stadium immediately following the game. Free commemorative Jessica Mendoza posters will be available for fans during the signing, while supplies last.

PENNA HITS 1,000: In the win over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, senior pitcher Missy Penna posted her 1,000th career strikeout and joined 10 of the most elite pitchers in Pac-10 history. Penna is the first active player in the country to reach the notable landmark and the 11th player in Pac-10 history to do so. Dana Sorensen is the only other Stanford player to hit 1,000, with 1,154 K's in her impressive career between 2000 and 2004. In addition to Sorensen and Penna, the list of Pac-10 pitchers that have accomplished the feat includes Alicia Hollowell (Arizona `06), Katie Burkhart (Arizona State `08), Michele Granger (California `93), Anjelica Selden (UCLA `08), Tayrne Mowatt (Arizona `08), Jocelyn Forest (California `02), Keira Goerl (UCLA `04), Kristina Thorson (California `06) and Jennie Finch (Arizona `02).

HOT-HITTING HABER: Outfielder Alissa Haber continued to dominate at the plate in Fullerton last weekend. The junior went 9-for-16 (.562), leading the Cardinal to a 5-0 record and its longest win streak in school history (17 games). Haber posted two three-hit games (against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton) and recorded at least one hit in all five games. She slugged .812 with a double and two triples. In Stanford's dramatic seventh-inning comeback against Cal Poly on Saturday, Haber came through with a bases-loaded single to drive in Stanford's first run and extend the game-winning rally. Haber currently leads the Pac-10 in four offensive categories - batting average (.540), runs (27), hits (34) and doubles (10).

THE STREAK IN ON: Stanford has won 17 straight games entering this weekend's home tournament, the longest winning streak in school history. Prior to the current streak, the longest run in school history was 16 games (2002).

THE PAC-10 AWARD ARE FLOWING: So far, Stanford has gotten its share of Pac-10 awards, with Ashley Hansen, Missy Penna and Rosey Neill all being recognized for their efforts in preseason play. Stanford has nabbed three awards so far, with Hansen being honored for her efforts in San Diego two weeks ago and Neill and Penna sweeping the awards after the opening weekend.

SCALING THE POLLS: Stanford continues to hold the No. 5 in the NFCA/USA Today poll, after going 5-0 at the DeMarini Invitational last week. 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 climbed one spot to No. 6 this week. 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 on Feb. 20, 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. Penna shut down two more opponents last weekend, extending the ongoing school record to 38. Penna went 21 innings without allowing an single earned run last week.

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 19 games. As a rookie, Hansen started the fifth week of play among the top-10 offensive players in the Pac-10 with a .433 batting average, a .731 slugging percentage, 20 runs, 29 hits, six doubles, four triples and 28 RBI. Hassman owns a .279 average, while Maya Burns has broken out recently with 10 hits in the last eight games. Jenna Becerra made five starts at third base last week and hit her first career home run against Minnesota.

SPEED ON THE BASE PATHS: Junior Alissa Haber picked her 22nd career stolen base last weekend, moving herself into the company of the school's top-10 base-stealers. Just over halfway into her career, Haber has already etched her name on five of Stanford's career top-10 charts (doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases).

DOUBLE DUTY: Junior Alissa Haber added two more doubles to impressive career tally last weekend, including the 40th of her career. Only nine players in program history, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more career doubles.

TRIPLE TIME: The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season, with 13 already in the books. The 2009 team, which is currently carrying the best batting average (.333) and slugging percentage (.555) in school history, needs just one more triple to tie the school record (14 in 2005 and 2006). Ashley Hansen and Shannon Koplitz lead the way with four triples apiece this year, and are both just two short of the school's single-season record.

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 1,003 career K's. She currently ties for the conference lead with 12 wins, ranks second with a 0.76 ERA and third with 100 K's. Penna 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 nine wins, 151 strikeouts and 71.2 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 118 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 (42), seventh in home runs (24), sixth in runs (124) and seventh in RBI (118). Also with 154 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 now has five on the season. 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 four weekends of play, Haber now has 41 doubles to her name. Mendoza had 33 of her school-record 70 doubles after two seasons.

HABER AMONG THE ELITE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber currently owns a .394 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 catcher Rosey Neill recorded her 1,000th career putout two weeks ago, 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 reached the 1,000-K mark last weekend.

QUICK WINS: Stanford has won five 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 year, 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 532-248-3 (.681) 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 TOURNAMENTS: Stanford has been hosting home tournaments since 2003 and gone 84-10 (.894) in those tournaments. The Cardinal has not lost at a home tournament since falling to Portland State on Mach 25, 2007.

SERIES RECORDS: Stanford is a combined 24-6 against its opponents this weekend. The Cardinal has played most of those games against California rivals San Diego State and UC Davis and gone 9-3 against each club. Stanford won the last meeting three weeks ago against the Aztecs (9-2) and the 2008 meeting with UC Davis (2-0). The only loss to either club in the John Rittman era came against San Diego State in 2003 (2-0). Stanford run-ruled Illinois State the only time the teams met (1999) and the Cardinal has won all five all-time meetings with Penn State (last was a 1-0 decision in 2004). Stanford and Vermont will be meeting for the first time in school history.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS STATE: The Redbirds (6-7) were 28-20 last season and just missed an NCAA berth with a second-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference. Fourteen letterwinners are back, including a pair of first-team all-region selections - junior Kara Nelson and senior Amber Smith - along with All-MVC First Team pick Jessie Buker. Smith paces the team with a .405 average so far this year, while junior transfer Niki Stansell is hitting .364 with seven extra-base hits. Freshman Jordan Birch has been the best bet in the circle for the Redbirds, owning a 1.91 ERA with 42 K's.

SCOUTING PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions (5-4) went 34-22 in 2008, but finished ninth in the Big Ten and did not receive an NCAA Tournament bid. The team's returners are headlined a pair of All-Great Lakes Region picks - senior outfielder Danielle Kinley and sophomore pitcher Jackie Hill. Hill, a local product of San Jose, owns a 1.29 ERA with 29 K's this year and is also one of the team's top hitters (.333). Freshman Lisa Akamine has taken the spotlight so far in 2009 however, pacing the squad both in the circle (0.64 ERA) and at the plate (.375, 3 doubles, 7 RBI).

SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs (9-9) return eight starters from a team that went 44-17, won the Mountain West and advanced to the Fresno Regional. Highlighting those returners is All-Mountain West catcher Erin Floros, who hit .291 with a team-high 38 RBI last year. In the circle, the Aztecs lost ace Christina Ross, but so far have relied on sophomore Samantha Beasley (2.88 ERA, 75 K's) and freshman Bailey Micetich (2.78 ERA, 58 K's) to fill the hole. To date, sophomore Jessica Camello has been the most consistent hitter for the Aztecs, owning a .279 batting average with two doubles.

SCOUTING VERMONT: The Catamounts (1-4) went 14-27 last year and took seventh in the America East Conference. Highlighting the returnees is sophomore second baseman Caroline Goddard, an all-conference freshman pick last season. In 2009, junior catcher Rachelle Boone paces the team with a .438 average. Sophomore Jocelyn Abaray has thrown most of the innings for the Catamounts and has yet to allow an earned run in 16.2 frames.

SCOUTING UC DAVIS: The Aggies (10-5) went 24-36 last year and took sixth in the Big West. Twelve letterwinners return, including 2008 All-Big West First Team pitcher Jessica Hancock. Hancock, now a senior, owns a 0.75 ERA with 73 K's and a 6-2 record. Offensively, the team is highlighted by senior outfielder Trish Paine, an All-Big West honorable mention selection who owns a .306 average this season. Freshman Kelly Harman (.318, , 3 HR's, 9 RBI) and sophomore Alex Holmes (.303, 7 RBI) are also hitting well for Aggies so far.

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