No. 2/2 Stanford, No. 16/17 Cal Set To Clash In Bay Area Rivalry Series
April 7, 2009
With five straight Pac-10 wins in the rearview mirror, the No. 2/2 Stanford softball team looks to build on its win total in a three-game series against No. 16/17 California this week. The Cardinal will play the Golden Bears at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at Smith Family Stadium in a game televised live by CBS College Sports. On Friday and Saturday, Stanford will play afternoon games at Levine-Fricke Field in Berkeley, with start times of 4 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.
Stanford's game this Thursday is its first of four televised games during the Pac-10 season. The game will air live at 7 p.m. (PT) on Thursday night, then be reshown Friday at 1 a.m., 7 a.m., noon and 9 p.m. as well as 3 a.m. on Saturday.
LAST TIME OUT
Stanford had a solid showing in its first Pac-10 road weekend, scoring 20 runs to sweep Oregon State and Oregon. The Cardinal began the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Beavers in Corvallis, with Shannon Koplitz connecting for the game-winning hit in the top of the seventh inning. The Cardinal routed Oregon, 11-0, on Saturday, scoring the most runs in a Pac-10 game in more than two years. On Sunday, Stanford clinched the series with the Ducks for the second straight season, winning 5-2 at Howe Field in Eugene.
LEADING THE NATION
Stanford enters the second week of Pac-10 play with the best winning percentage of any team in the nation (.944) 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 (39-3, .929).
SCALING THE POLLS
Stanford is unanimously No. 2 in the major collegiate softball polls, holding the spot for the second straight week. 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. Holding onto the highest rank in school history, it is the first time ever that the Cardinal has been No. 2 in back-to-back weeks. It is also the highest that the Cardinal has been ranked after the start of Pac-10 play. 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 eight straight weeks, the longest streak since 2002.
ONE STREAK ENDS, NEW ONE BEGINS
With Stanford's loss to UCLA on March 27, 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. Stanford could tie the record with two wins at Cal this week and break it with a sweep of the Bears.
Stanford has scored first in 30 of its 36 games, and never let a lead slip away. Stanford has held its lead all 30 times it has scored first this year and come-from-behind four of the six times that opponents have gotten on the board first.
Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn have combined to post some of the best numbers in the nation. The pair ranks third nationally in ERA (0.91) and is one of only four pitching staffs in the country to hold a sub-1.00 mark. Entering the week, the duo had registered the Pac-10's best ERA (0.91), best opposing average (.158) and most wins (34). 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.
Stanford freshman Ashley Hansen, who was the only high school player invited to USA Softball's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007, is having the best rookie season since Stanford's most famous Olympian, Jessica Mendoza, stepped on The Farm exactly a decade ago. Mendoza went on to become a four-time first-team All-American and key player on the USA Team that won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 and a silver medal in Beijing last summer. Here's a look at how Hansen's 2009 season is lining up with Mendoza's 1999 season, when she earned the program's only Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award:
Mendoza has been the only Stanford rookie to hit over .400 (.415). Hansen is currently hitting .406. Mendoza had 81 hits in 62 games in 1999 (1.31 per game). Hansen has 52 hits in 36 games already (1.44 per game).
Mendoza had 13 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and slugged .641 during her rookie season. Hansen already has 11 doubles, four triples and two home runs and is slugging .602.
Mendoza earned Stanford's first national player of the week honor as a freshman on March 8, 1999, after just four weeks of collegiate play. Hansen followed in her footsteps on Feb. 17, 2009, becoming the second Stanford freshman to earn the award (after just her second weekend of collegiate play).
Mendoza was one of 18 first-team All-Americans as a freshman in 1999. Last week, Hansen was the only freshman among the 25 players named to USA Softball's 2009 Player of the Year Watch List.
THE Missy Penna FILE
LATELY: Penna threw another complete weekend, tossing all 21 innings as Stanford swept the Oregon schools on the road. Penna allowed just two earned runs in the 21 innings (0.67 ERA) and struck out 28 batters, with double-digit performances against Oregon State on Friday (13 K's) and Oregon on Saturday (10 K's). Her shutout at Oregon on Saturday, which was one hit shy of a perfect game, made her one of the 30 winningest pitchers in NCAA history.
POTW DOMINATION: Penna has won four of the possible eight Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week awards this year, and now boasts more career honors than any active player in the conference (8). After recording two wins over No. 2 Washington two weeks ago, Penna became the first player in school history to sweep both the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week awards.
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 14 this year, and is second only to Louisville's Kristen Wadwell with 24 wins. Penna's 0.74 ERA ranks fourth nationally, while her 221 K's rank seventh.
IN THE PAC-10: Penna leads the league in wins (24) and innings pitched (179.1) and ranks second to Washington's Danielle Lawrie with a 0.74 ERA and 221 K's. She carries the third-best opposing average (.155) in the league and is one of only four Pac-10 pitchers who has given up less than 30 runs (one of the other four is teammate Ashley Chinn).
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 shutout at Oregon last Saturday built her ongoing school shutout record to 46.
WIN RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Oregon State last Friday, Penna recorded her 106th career victory and passed three-time All-American Dana Sorensen as the winningest pitcher in Stanford history. With 108 career wins to date, she is the eighth-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history and tied as the 27th-winningest of all-time.
INNINGS PITCHED RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Washington on March 29, Penna broke Sorensen's school record for innings pitched. Penna has now thrown 971.1 innings in her four years on The Farm. That total ranks seventh in Pac-10 history, 22.1 short of sixth-place Jocelyn Forest (Cal `02).
STRIKEOUT RECORD UP NEXT: Penna now has 1,124 career strikeouts, 30 shy of Sorensen's school record. She is currently the nation's active career K leader (13 ahead of Washington's Danielle Lawrie). Her career total currently ranks eighth in Pac-10 history.
SINGLE-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 24 wins tie for sixth on the Stanford single-season chart, her 221 K's rank sixth as well and her 14 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 76 strikeouts short of adding her name to that elite list.
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 .439 batting average stands fifth in the conference and among the top 20 nationally. Her current season average, as well as her slugging percentage (.740) 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. %).
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 has hit in five of the six Pac-10 games ... Maddy Coon enters the weekend on the team's longest streak, having hit in the last four games.
CRACKING THE TOP-10
Alissa Haber cracked the school's all-time top-10 in hits last month and now has 196 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.
Stanford's freshmen have all lived up to their billing so far. Five freshmen 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 36 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 already ranks among the top-10 offensive players in the conference with a .406 batting average, 52 hits, 11 doubles and 34 RBI. She is also tied with teammate Shannon Koplitz as the conference's leader in triples (4).
Junior Alissa Haber has tied Jessica Allister `04 for third place on the school's career list with 47 doubles. Only nine players in program history, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more career doubles. Haber needs just three more doubles to become the third Stanford player to hit 50 and six more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10. She currently ranks fifth nationally in doubles per game (highest of any player on a ranked team) and ties for first with Arizona's Brittany Lastrapes with the most total doubles of any DI player (16).
The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season and tied the school's single-season triple record on March 22. The 2009 team, which is currently carrying the best batting average (.306) and slugging percentage (.488) 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
Of the 25 players still in contention for the 2009 USA Softball National Player of the Year award, three belong to Stanford. Junior outfielder Alissa Haber, senior pitcher Missy Penna and freshman shortstop Ashley Hansen were deemed three of the nation's best players when the 25 finalists were announced on April 1. Stanford's three selections matched the most of any school, as Arizona and Alabama also had three players chosen. Hansen was the only rookie to make the list.
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.
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 132 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 132 walks rank among the 10 best career totals in Pac-10 history as well (10th).
COON ON THE CLIMB
Maddy Coon has also established herself on a number of the school's other top-10 lists. Currently, Coon ranks sixth in career doubles (45), tenth in triples (4), seventh in home runs (26), fifth in runs (135) and sixth in RBI (129). Also with 168 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).
Maddy Coon and Alissa Haber are two of the most versatile hitters in school history. Recently, 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 10 career leaders in doubles, triples and home runs.
KOPLITZ IN THE CLUTCH
Junior Shannon Koplitz has proved to work the best under pressure for the Cardinal. Hitting third in the Cardinal order this year, Koplitz is Stanford's best hitter with runners in scoring position (.426) and with two outs (.387). She is 4-for-4 with bases loaded and leads the team with 15 two-out RBI.
BEST VS. THE BEST
Most averages sink when you start facing the best, but since the start of the conference season, senior Maddy Coon has stepped up her game. Coon is hitting .429 in Pac-10 games this year (96 points higher than prior to Pac-10 play), slugging .714 (127 points higher) and reaching base at a .579 rate (73 points higher). She was 5-for-8 (.625) with four walks, a double and a home run in Oregon last week.
Fresh off matching a school record and ranking 10th nationally with 19 home runs in 2008, junior catcher Rosey Neill is slugging away again this year. Neill belted three homers over the opening weekend, hit two last week and leads the team with eight on the season. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill now has 34 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. Neill is currently tied with Morris for third place on Stanford's career home run chart.
CHASING DOWN THE RECORDS
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 34). By comparison, Mendoza hit 36 of her 50 bombs by the end of her junior season. Midway through her junior year, Haber has 47 doubles to her name. Mendoza had 53 of her school-record 70 doubles by the end of her junior year.
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. Six 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 on Feb. 21, 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.
Stanford has played two extra-inning games this year, against Cal Poly on March 23 and against Washington on March 28. Stanford is 2-0 in those games, outscoring opponents 2-0 in extra frames.
...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.
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. Fans can vote for Missy through May 7 at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/softball_2009/.
STANFORD IN PAC-10 PLAY
Stanford enters the third week of conference play in sole possession of first place in the conference, one game ahead of Washington, Arizona and Arizona State. The Cardinal 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.
Series Record: Stanford trails California 20-29 all-time.
Last Meeting: After Stanford won the first two games of the 2008 series, Cal took the final meeting on April 20, when Bernice Masaniai hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the seventh at Levine-Fricke Field.
Last Stanford Victory: Stanford won its last game against the Bears on April 19 at home, 5-1. Rosey Neill led the Cardinal offensively in that game, going 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Series Wins: Stanford won two of three to win the series last season, but has never swept Cal. The Bears last series win was in 2007 and their last sweep came in 2003.
Current Streak: Cal won the last time the two teams met.
Scouting Report: Coming off an NCAA Super Regional appearance, the Bears have gone 26-11 to start 2009 and stand fifth in the Pac-10 with a 3-3 conference mark. Leading the way so far for the team are a pair of freshman twins, Jamia and Elia Reid. Jamia is hitting .336 with 10 extra-base hits and 31 stolen bases, while Elia is hitting .325 with six extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases. The Bears' power comes from sophomore Valarie Arioto (7 HR's, 22 RBI), sophomore Sanoe Kekahuna (8 HR's, 26 RBI) and senior Gina Leomiti (3 HR's, 27 RBI). Led by the Reid twins, Cal steals the most bases in the conference and ranks second nationally in the category. In the circle, Arioto (1.49 ERA, 107 K's) and junior Marissa Drewrey (2.04 ERA, 177 K's) share the spotlight, and have combined for the best pitching numbers of any team in conference but Stanford and Washington.
LITTLE LEAGUE DAY COMING UP!
Stanford will host Little League Day on April 25 against Oregon State at Smith Family Stadium. Little Leaguers, their parents and local league volunteers are encouraged to attend the game. The players will come dressed in their Little League uniform jerseys, and following the game will be permitted on to the field to meet the Stanford players and coaches. For more information, contact Daniella Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT COULD HAPPEN THIS WEEK...
Team, 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.
Team, 2 WINS - Stanford has won five Pac-10 games in a row. The existing school record (2005) is seven consecutive Pac-10 wins.
PENNA, 1 WIN - Missy Penna is one win away from becoming one of the 25 winningest pitchers in NCAA history. One win would also tie her for fifth place on Stanford's single-season win list.
PENNA, 2 WINS - Two Penna wins would tie her for 23rd in NCAA history, seventh place in Pac-10 history and fourth on Stanford's single-season list.
PENNA, 3 WINS - Three Penna wins would tie her for 22nd in NCAA history and third on Stanford's single-season list.
PENNA, 1 SHUTOUT - Penna needs just one more shutout this year to match her own school single-season record (15) set in 2008.
PENNA, 18 K's - Penna needs 18 K's to join the NCAA's 30 all-time leaders.
PENNA, 30 K's - Penna needs 30 K's to tie the program's career record held by Dana Sorensen.
HABER, 4 HITS - Alissa Haber needs four hits to reach 200 for her career. She would be the ninth player at Stanford to reach the milestone.
HABER, 1 DOUBLE - Haber needs one double to become one of the top three double hitters in program history. One double would also tie her for sixth place on the school's single-season chart.
HABER OR COON, 1 WALK - Haber, who is already among the school's career leaders in six categories, needs one walk to join that list as well. Maddy Coon, who holds every base on balls record in the Cardinal books, needs one to make the single-season walk list for the third time in her career.
COON, 1 RUN - Coon needs run to be one of the top-five scorers in school history.
NEILL, 1 HR - Rosey Neill needs one more home run to take sole possession of third place on Stanford's career home run list.
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 the USA Team 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, and Hansen was the only high school player selected to participate in Team USA's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007.