The Run Continues: No. 4/4 Stanford Resumes Nation's Longest Win Streak
March 17, 2009
UP NEXT: Following a brief hiatus for final exams, the No. 4/4 Cardinal softball team returns to the field to build on the nation's longest active win streak - a 23-game run that began on Feb. 7. In its final weekend of tune-ups before conference play, Stanford hosts Pacific, Santa Clara, Princeton and Winthrop in the Stanford Invitational.
THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE: Tournament action begins on Friday at 11 a.m. with Winthrop taking on Santa Clara. The event consists of four games Friday, five Saturday and three Sunday. Stanford is slated to play its first game at 6 p.m. Friday night against Princeton. The Cardinal plays a doubleheader against Winthrop and Santa Clara beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and concludes the weekend against Pacific at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
AND ONE EXTRA...: After its final preseason tournament, Stanford will get one last bit of practice before conference play begins. In a rare Monday contest (1 p.m.), Stanford will meet Cal Poly for the second time this season. The teams also met three weeks ago, when the Cardinal pulled out a thrilling seventh-inning comeback to snag the 3-2 victory.
THE STREAK IN ON: Stanford has won 23 straight games entering this weekend's home tournament, the longest winning streak in school history and the longest active streak in the nation. Should Stanford win four games and sweep its fifth consecutive tournament this weekend, the streak will become one of the 20 best in NCAA history. The streak would also be the longest single-season run by a Pac-10 team since Arizona (31 games) and Cal (32 games) posted similar streaks early in 2001. Prior to this year, Stanford's longest win streak was 16 games (2002). The longest single-season winning streak in NCAA history was a 38-game run by South Carolina in 1997.
THE ONE-LOSS CLUB: Stanford enters the week in a club all its own, as the Cardinal is the nation's only ranked, one-loss team. Only two clubs - No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama - have two losses, while every other ranked team already has three setbacks or more.
PENNA HITS 1,000: On March 1, senior pitcher Missy Penna posted her 1,000th career strikeout and joined 10 of the most elite pitchers in Pac-10 history. Penna was 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). Washington's Danielle Lawrie joined the club on March 7, just behind Penna.
TOP TO BOTTOM: Stanford's lineup has been solid from top to bottom this season, and in the team's last outing, it was the bottom half of the lineup that stepped up. Sophomore Melisa Koutz went 7-for-16 (.438) with three doubles and five RBI at the Louisville Slugger Classic to lead all players. Freshman Jenna Becerra posted the best weekend of her young career with a .417 batting average, a team-high .588 on-base percentage, her second career home run and five RBI.
HARD TO HANDLE: Two-time All-American Alissa Haber is the toughest out in the Pac-10 right now, with a conference-best .494 batting average. So far, Haber has reached base more often than anyone in the league except two-time defending Pac-10 Player of the Year Kaitlin Cochran, who has been walked a league-high 26 times.
HOMER-LESS AND TOUGH TO SCORE ON: Stanford senior Missy Penna remains the only Pac-10 pitcher who has yet to give up a home run in 2009. In 103 innings (second-most in the conference), Penna has allowed just nine earned runs and registered a 0.61 ERA. She has now gone 41 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, dating back to Feb. 21.
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 a decade ago (1999). Since then, Penna has continued to dominate. Her three shutouts at the Louisville Slugger Classic built her ongoing school shutout record to 41.
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 four awards already. Penna has been honored twice, with her most recent award coming after the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic earlier this month. Hansen was honored for her efforts in San Diego in mid-February and Neill and Penna swept the first set of awards after the opening weekend.
SCALING THE POLLS: Stanford is now unanimously No. 4 in the major collegiate softball polls. 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. 4 on May 11, 2005. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with as many as five appearing in the top-10. Stanford has now been in the NFCA top-five for five straight weeks, the longest streak since early in the 2005 season.
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 25 games. As a rookie, Hansen starts the final week of non-conference play among the top-10 offensive players in the Pac-10 with a .400 batting average, 34 hits and 31 RBI. She is also tied with teammate Shannon Koplitz as the conference's leader in triples (4). Hassman owns a .259 average, while Maya Burns has broken out recently and is hitting . 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, the team leader with eight stolen bases, picked her 23rd career steal in the team's last outing. Haber continues to establish herself as one of the school's 10 all-time best in a number of categories. Just over halfway into her career, she has already etched her name on five of Stanford's career top-10 charts (doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases). She is seven hits and four walks away from joining those lists as well.
DOUBLE DUTY: Junior Alissa Haber added three more doubles to her impressive tally in the team's last weekend and now has 44 for her career. Only nine players in program history, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more career doubles. Haber needs just two more doubles to join the top-five double hitters in school history and nine more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10.
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 (.324) and slugging percentage (.535) 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.
DYNAMIC DUO: Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn have combined to post some of the best numbers in the Pac-10. Together, the duo has registered the Pac-10's best ERA (0.87) and best opposing average (.155). Additionally, Penna and Chinn have allowed the fewest hits, runs, earned runs, walks, doubles and home runs in the league. Their 0.87 ERA is on pace to be the best team mark in school history.
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.
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 six wins, 131 strikeouts and 51.2 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 122 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 122 career walks rank among the 10 best tallys in Pac-10 history.
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 the first half of her junior season, Haber has 44 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 .392 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 on March 1.
QUICK WINS: Stanford has won six games by run-rule so far, with its most recent coming against Penn State on March 6. The Cardinal run-ruled 14 opponents last year, with its largest margin of victory coming against Pacific on Feb. 16 (14 runs).
SUPER SENIOR: Senior pitcher Missy Penna is among 30 collegiate softball players chosen as candidates for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Each year, the award is presented to student-athletes who excel not only on the playing field but also in the classroom and in their community.
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 538-248-3 (.684) 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 90-10 (.900) 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 56-15 (.789) against its opponents this weekend. All but four of those meetings have come against NorCal rivals Santa Clara and Pacific. The Cardinal has won more games against the Broncos (35) than any school in the nation, including 33 straight. All four losses to Santa Clara came prior to John Rittman's now 13-year tenure. Stanford run-ruled Santa Clara three times last year. The Cardinal is 18-10 against Pacific, with the last Tiger win coming on Feb. 6, 2005. The Cardinal bested Pacific 16-2 in the most recent meeting last February. Stanford has won three of the four all-time meetings with Princeton, including a 10-0 run-rule win last March. Stanford and Winthrop will be meeting for the first time in school history.
SCOUTING PRINCETON: Eleven letterwinners return from the Princeton team that went 25-24 last season, won the Ivy League title and earned a spot in the Amherst Regional (which was eventually won by the Cardinal). The team's returners are headlined junior pitcher Jamie Lettire (4.80 ERA, 5 K's), a 2008 All-American. Junior Kelsey Quist and senior Kathryn Welch were both all-region picks last year, and Welch (.435) paces the team so far with 10 hits, seven RBI and five extra-base hits. Sophomore Kristin Arguedas is also off to a hot start with a team-leading .438 batting average. The Tigers have only played six games so far, and have gone 3-3 in those contests.
SCOUTING WINTHROP: The Eagles (8-10) return eight starters from a team that went 39-19, won the Big South and qualified for a second-straight NCAA Tournament. Highlighting those returners are seven all-conference selections, two all-region picks and the school's first All-American - senior Lisa Kingsmore. Kingsmore currently paces the team with a .421 average and eight extra-base hits. Another first-team All-Big South honoree, senior Tessa Thomas, is hitting .333 with a team-leading 13 RBI. Junior pitcher Megan Evans, also an All-Big South First Team pick, carries a 2.94 ERA, has earned six of the team's eight wins and has fanned 59 batters.
SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: The Broncos (4-17) went 9-51 last year and ended up fifth in the PCSC. Sophomore catcher Amanda Edmonson and senior infielder Noelani Ho'opi'i both were recognized with All-PCSC honorable mention last season, but it's a newcomer, Briana Knight, who has stood out for the squad so far. Knight is hitting .356, and paces the team with nine doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI. In the circle, sophomore Jenna Fong (6.79 ERA, 24 K's) and junior Kaitlyn Rauschnot (9.33 ERA, 13 K's) have been sharing the primary duties.
SCOUTING PACIFIC: The Tigers (10-12) went 25-34 last year and took seventh in the Big West. Ten letterwinners return, including five who were recognized with conference awards last season. Nicole Matson, the 2008 Big West Freshman of the Year, paces the team with a .405 average, 10 doubles, four home runs and 24 RBI. Senior Casey Goldsand (.373) and freshman Paige Emerson (.354) are also hitting well so far. Senior Chelsea Engle (4.87 ERA, 67 K's) has been the Tigers' best bet in circle.
SCOUTING CAL POLY: The Mustangs (16-6) went 24-22 last year and tied for third in the Big West. Six all-conference honorees return, headlined by 2008 All-West Region pick Melissa Pura. Pura and fellow senior All-Big West pick Stephanie Tam are two of the five Mustangs hitting over .300 and have combined for 11 doubles. Pura also has five home runs this season, while seniors Jessica Rogers (.373) and Cristen Lee (.355) have emerged the team's most consistent hitters. In the circle, Helen Pena (1.80 ERA, 40 K's) and Anna Cahn (1.46 ERA, 83 K's) share the pitching duties.
SISTER ACT: Sisters Erikka Moreno (Stanford) and Brianna Moreno (Princeton) will face off for the second time of their careers on Friday. Both graduates of Orange Lutheran High School in Southern California, the sisters now play DI softball on opposite coasts. Brianna, a senior who was an All-Ivy selection in 2007, has started all six games for Princeton and is hitting .286 in 21 at-bats. Erikka, a sophomore infielder for the Cardinal has seen four at-bats and played in four games for the Cardinal this year.
WATCH OUT FOR...
4 WINS - Stanford is four wins away from extending its current win streak to 27 games, which would make it one of the 20 longest in NCAA history.
1 TRIPLE - Stanford is one triple away from matching a school single-season record (14 in 2005 and 2006). Freshman Ashley Hansen and sophomore Shannon Koplitz are both two triples away from the program's single-season record (6).
1 WIN - Missy Penna is one win away from the 100th of her career.
6 STRIKEOUTS - Missy Penna is six strikeouts away from passing two-time Olympian Jennie Finch on the Pac-10's career strikeout list. Passing Finch would put her in 11th place on that list.
7 HITS - Alissa Haber is seven hits away from joining the school's top-10 all-time hit leaders.
2 DOUBLES - Alissa Haber needs two more doubles to paste her name on the school's single-season double list for the third consecutive year. Two doubles will also pull her into the top-five on the school's career chart.