Cardinal Heads To Oregon As Nation's No. 2 Team

March 31, 2009

UP NEXT: On the back of reigning national player of the week Missy Penna, the No. 2/2 Stanford softball team continues conference play in Oregon this week, looking to build on momentum gained with two wins over then-No. 2 Washington. The Cardinal will play its first Pac-10 road games of the new year, meeting Oregon State in Corvallis at 3 p.m. on Friday and Oregon in Eugene on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (noon).

LAST TIME OUT: Stanford got a solid start to Pac-10 play last week, upending second-ranked Washington twice to take over the No. 2 spot in the national polls. On Friday, Stanford's 28-game win streak came to an end against UCLA, but the team quickly bounced back. Junior Rosey Neill was hit by a pitch with bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to end a pitcher's duel between Stanford's Missy Penna and Washington's Danielle Lawrie on Saturday. On Sunday, junior Shannon Koplitz hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to beat the Huskies again. Rookie Ashley Hansen was the Cardinal's top hitter over the opening weekend, going 4-for-12 (.333).

LEADING THE NATION: Stanford enters the second week of Pac-10 play with the best winning percentage of any team in the nation (.939) and is the only team with just two losses. Top-ranked Florida is the only other team to have won more than 90 percent of its games (34-3, .919).

SCALING THE POLLS: Stanford is now unanimously No. 2 in the major collegiate softball polls, matching its highest rank in school history. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season NFCA poll for more than a decade, has been No. 2 only twice before - Feb. 20 and March 20 of the 2002 season. 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 seven straight weeks, the longest streak since 2002.

ONE STREAK ENDS, NEW ONE BEGINS: With Stanford's loss to UCLA on Friday, one of the longest winning streaks in NCAA history, and the longest by the Cardinal program, came to an end. Going into its Pac-10 opener, Stanford had won 28 straight games, tying for the 17th-longest winning streak of all-time. It was 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 team swept five tournaments and went 47 days, 188 innings and 28 games without suffering a loss. With the school's overall win streak record broken, the team now takes aim at its Pac-10 win streak record - seven games during its 2005 Pac-10 title season.

DYNAMIC DUO: Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn have combined to post some of the best numbers in the nation. The pair ranks second nationally in ERA (0.94), and joins the staff of top-ranked Florida as the only ones to hold a sub-1.00 mark. Entering the week, the duo had registered the Pac-10's best ERA (0.94), best opposing average (.162) and most wins (31). Additionally, Penna and Chinn have allowed the fewest hits, runs, earned runs, walks, doubles, triples and home runs in the league. Their combined ERA is on pace to be the best team mark in school history, well under the 1.20 record set by the 2001 pitching staff.

HARD TO HANDLE: Two-time All-American Alissa Haber is one of the toughest outs in the Pac-10 right now, as her team-high .441 batting average stands fifth in the conference and among the top-25 nationally. Her current season average, as well as her slugging percentage (.766) are second only to the numbers Jessica Mendoza posted when she became Stanford's only Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2000 (.475 BA, .783 Slug. %).

STREAK TALK: Alissa Haber posted a career-long 18-game hitting streak between Feb. 7 and March 6, racking up 33 hits in the month-long span ... Ashley Hansen has had the team's only other double-digit streak at 10 games (Feb. 7-21) ... Hansen has also posted two separate seven-game multi-hit streaks ... Shannon Koplitz hit in every game last week and carries the longest current hitting streak (4 games).

CRACKING INTO THE TOP-10: Alissa Haber cracked into the school's all-time top-10 in hits two weeks ago and now has 191 for her career. Just a junior, she has already etched her name on six of Stanford's career top-10 charts (hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases). She is one walk away from joining that list as well.

THE Missy Penna FILE• LATELY: Penna became the first player in school history to sweep both national player of the week awards this week, being named USA Softball National Player of the Week, Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. The Stanford ace tossed 34.1 innings, fanned 45 batters, beat three ranked teams and held the second-ranked Washington Huskies scoreless for 18 consecutive innings. She won two pitcher's duels with Washington's Danielle Lawrie, becoming just the second pitcher this season to beat Washington with its ace in the circle on Saturday then repeating the feat in her second game against the Huskies Sunday. While facing four top-25 teams, and three in the top-five, Penna posted a 1.43 ERA and went 3-1.
• POTW DOMINATION: Penna has won four of the possible seven Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week awards this year, and now boasts more career awards than any active player in the conference (8).
• IN THE NATION: Penna ranks among the top-10 pitchers in the country in four major pitching categories. She is the nation's shutout leader with 13 this year, and is second only to Louisville's Kristen Wadwell with 21 wins. Penna's 0.72 ERA ranks fourth nationally, while her 193 K's rank eighth.
• IN THE PAC-10: Penna leads the league in wins (21) and innings (158.1) and ranks second to Washington's Danielle Lawrie with a 0.75 ERA and 193 K's. She carries the third-best opposing average (.160) in the league and is one of only three Pac-10 pitchers who has given up only two home runs.
• SHUTOUT RECORD, CHECK: Penna shut out Notre Dame on Feb. 20, nabbing the 36th shutout of her career. With the 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 two shutouts against Washington built her ongoing school shutout record to 45.
• WIN RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Washington on Sunday, Penna tied Dana Sorensen as the winningest pitcher in Stanford history (105 career wins). She is now tied with Sorensen as the eighth-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history.
• INNINGS PITCHED RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Washington on Sunday, Penna also broke Sorensen's school record for innings pitched. Penna has now thrown 950.1 innings in her four years on The Farm. That total ranks seventh in Pac-10 history, 43.1 short of sixth-place Jocelyn Forest (Cal `02).
• STRIKEOUT RECORD UP NEXT: Penna now has 1,096 career strikeouts, 58 shy of Sorensen's school record. She is currently the nation's active career K leader (10 ahead of Washington's Danielle Lawrie). Her career total currently ranks eighth in Pac-10 history.
• SEASON RECORDS: Penna is currently carrying the second-best single-season ERA in school history (0.74, Dana Sorensen posted a 0.64 ERA in 2001). Penna's 21 wins tie for ninth on the Stanford single-season chart, her 193 K's rank seventh and her 13 shutouts are second only to the 15 she posted as a junior last year.
• SINGLE-GAME STRIKEOUT RECORD: On March 23, Penna shattered the school's single-game strikeout record with 19 K's in a 10-inning win over Cal Poly. The performance bested the school record she set last May - 17 K's at Arizona State.
• 1,000 AND COUNTING: On March 1, 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.
• RACE TO 1,200: Only 23 players in NCAA history have ever reached 1,200 career K's. Penna is 104 strikeouts short of adding her name to that elite list.

FAB FROSH: Stanford's freshman have all lived up to their billing so far. Five freshman have made at least one start, four have become regular members of the lineup and two (Ashley Hansen and Sarah Hassman) have gotten the starting nod in all 33 games. Hansen, who was the only high school player selected to attend USA Softball's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007, has headlined the rookie crew. In her first collegiate season, she currently ranks among the top-10 offensive players in the conference with a .427 batting average, 50 hits, 11 doubles and 33 RBI. She is also tied with teammate Shannon Koplitz as the conference's leader in triples (4).

DOUBLE DUTY: Junior Alissa Haber ranks among the school's all-time top-five with 46 doubles 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 four more doubles to become the third Stanford player to hit 50 and seven more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10.

TRIPLE TIME: The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season and tied the school's single-season triple record two weeks ago. The 2009 team, which is currently carrying the best batting average (.306) and slugging percentage (.494) in school history, has matched the 14-triple efforts of the 2005 and 2006 teams before the conference season has even begun. 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.

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 128 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 128 walks rank among the 10 best career totals in Pac-10 history as well.

COON ON THE CLIMB: Maddy Coon has also established herself on a number of the school's other top-10 lists. Currently, Coon ranks seventh in career doubles (44), tenth in triples (4), seventh in home runs (25), sixth in runs (130) and seventh in RBI (126). Also with 163 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).

CAREER CYCLE: Maddy Coon and Alissa Haber are two of the most versatile hitters in school history. Last weekend, Coon joined Haber and three of the best hitters in school history - Jessica Mendoza `02, Kira Ching `03 and Catalina Morris `06 - as the only players to be among the school's career leaders in doubles, triples and home runs.

COMING THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH: Juniors Alissa Haber and Shannon Koplitz have proved to work the best under pressure for the Cardinal. Haber is the team's most likely to get a hit with runners on base (.419) and in scoring position (.414). Koplitz is Stanford's best hitter with two outs (.393), is 4-for-4 with bases loaded and leads the team with 14 two-out RBI.

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 six on the season. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill now has 32 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: As 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 32). By comparison, Mendoza hit 22 of her 50 bombs prior to her junior season. After the first half of her junior season, Haber has 46 doubles to her name. Mendoza had 33 of her school-record 70 doubles in her first two years.

HABER AMONG THE ELITE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber currently owns a .386 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 earlier this year, 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.

THE LONG...: Stanford has played two extra-inning games this year, with both coming last week. Stanford is 2-0 in games that have gone more than seven innings.

...AND SHORT OF IT: Stanford has won six games by run-rule so far, with its most recent coming against Penn State on March 6.

SUPER SENIOR: Senior pitcher Missy Penna is among 10 collegiate softball players chosen as finalists 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 545-249-3 (.686) 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 IN PAC-10 PLAY: Stanford won its only Pac-10 title in 2005, tying for the conference crown with a 13-8 record. Since going to a 21-game schedule in 2000, 13-win conference seasons in 2004 and 2005 have been the team's best. Stanford finished fourth in the Pac-10 last year with an 11-10 conference record.

ABOUT OREGON STATE
Series Record: Stanford leads Oregon State 33-15 all-time.
Last Meeting: Stanford won 2-1 in eight innings in Corvallis on May 4, 2008. Michelle Smith cracked the game-winning hit and nabbed both of Stanford's RBI.
Last Oregon State Victory: The Beavers most recent win came on May 12, 2007, when they claimed a 9-2 win in the regular-season finale.
Series Wins: Stanford swept the Beavers to win the series last season. The Beavers last series win was in 2007 and their last sweep was in 2004.
Current Streak: Stanford has won the last three times the teams have met.
Scouting Report: Oregon State (16-16) finished seventh in the Pac-10 last season and was the only club not to make the postseason. So far in 2009, the Beavers are fighting to stay over .500, but have posted big wins over then-No. 22 Georgia (Feb. 7) and then-No. 25 Mississippi State (March 6). Sophomore Audrey Roderfeld has had the hottest bat, posting a .330 average with seven home runs and 23 RBI. Senior Paige Lowe, who earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention last season, is close behind with a .323 average and nine extra-base hits. Freshman Paige Hall (2.76 ERA, 34 K's) and junior Kelly Dyer (3.05 ERA, 77 K's) share the duties in the circle for the Beavers.

ABOUT OREGON
Series Record: Stanford leads Oregon 25-20 all-time.
Last Meeting: Stanford won 6-0 in Eugene on May 2, 2008. Michelle Smith went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double, while Shannon Koplitz recorded the first three-hit game of her career.
Last Oregon Victory: The Ducks most recent win came on May 10, 2007, when they claimed a 5-4 win in eight innings at Smith Family Stadium.
Series Wins: Stanford swept the Ducks to win the series last season. The Ducks last series win was in 2007 and their last sweep was in 1995.
Current Streak: Stanford has won the last three times the teams have met.
Scouting Report: Coming off an NCAA Regional appearance, the Ducks have gone 10-20 to start 2009. Leading the way so far for the team is junior Neena Bryant, a 2008 All-Pac-10 Second Team pick who is hitting .379 with 23 RBI. Sophomore Monique Fuiava is hitting .284, and has provided the power for the Ducks with seven doubles and eight home runs. The Ducks have consistently used four pitchers this season. Rookie Sam Skillingstad has been their best bet, owning a 2.37 ERA with seven wins, two shutouts and 89 K's.

IT COULD HAPPEN THIS WEEK...
• 1 TRIPLE - Stanford tied the school's single-season triple record (14) on March 22, but is one triple away from taking sole possession of that record.
• 1 WIN - Missy Penna tied Dana Sorensen as the winningest pitcher in school history last Sunday. Penna needs just one more win to pass Sorensen and become Stanford's winningest pitcher of all-time.
• 2 SHUTOUTS - Missy Penna needs two shutouts to tie the single-season record (15) she set last season.
• 2 DOUBLES - Alissa Haber needs two more doubles to join former greats Jessica Mendoza `02 and Sarah Beeson `02 as the three best Cardinal double-hitters of all-time.

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