Stanford Takes On San Jose State Wednesday Night
April 21, 2009
The No. 4/5 Stanford softball team (37-6) meets San Jose State (18-29) in its final non-conference game of the year on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.
LAST TIME OUT
Stanford played three games in Arizona last week and lost two of the three. The Cardinal dropped a 12-4 decision to No. 9/11 Arizona on Friday, then came back to best No. 5/8 Arizona State in an eight-inning battle on Saturday, 7-6. On Sunday, Stanford lost to the Sun Devils, 10-1. Freshman Jenna Becerra stepped up and led the Cardinal for the weekend, hitting .429 with a home run, three RBI and the game-winning single against Arizona State.
SCALING THE POLLS
After its two losses in the desert, Stanford dropped to No. 4/5 in the major collegiate softball polls this week. The squad had previously held a program-best No. 2 rank for three consecutive weeks. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season NFCA poll for more than a decade, has now been in the NFCA top five for 10 straight weeks, the longest streak since 2002. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with five appearing in the top 10 and as many as four appearing in the top five.
THE BIG STREAK
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.
Stanford has scored first in 34 of its 43 games, and only let one of those 34 leads slip away. Of the nine times that opponents have gotten on the board first, Stanford has come back and won four times. In the first inning, Stanford has scored more times than any other inning (52), while holding opponents to just eight runs in the opening frame.
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 .414. Mendoza had 81 hits in 62 games in 1999 (1.31 per game). Hansen has 63 hits in 43 games already (1.47 per game).
Mendoza had 13 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and slugged .641 during her rookie season. Hansen already has 14 doubles, five triples and three home runs and is slugging .632.
Mendoza struck out just 22 times in 195 at bats as a freshman (once every 8.9 AB's). Hansen has struck out just nine times this year in 152 at bats (once every 16.9 AB's).
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. Earlier this month, 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 went 1-1 and threw 13.2 innings in the Arizona series last week. She struck out 15 batters, 12 of which came in her win over Arizona State on Saturday. In that game, she tied the program's career strikeout record by fanning two-time defending Pac-10 Player of the Year Kaitlin Cochran in the first inning, and broke it when she caught Renee Welty looking in the second.
POTW DOMINATION: Penna has won four Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week awards this year and boasts eight for her career. After recording two wins over No. 2 Washington in late March, 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 three major pitching categories. She is third in the nation with 14 shutouts and 26 wins, and is ninth with 262 strikeouts. On a per-game basis, Penna's 8.8 K's per game rank among the nation's top 25 pitchers.
IN THE PAC-10: Penna leads the league in wins (26) and innings pitched (207.1) and ranks second to Washington's Danielle Lawrie with 262 strikeouts. She ranks third in the conference behind Lawrie and UCLA's Megan Langenfeld with a 1.45 ERA and .180 opposing average.
STRIKEOUT RECORD, CHECK: Penna broke her fourth Stanford career pitching record last week, striking out her 1,155th career batter to break Dana Sorensen's strikeout record against Arizona State. Penna now has 1,165 career strikeouts and is currently the nation's active career K leader (12 ahead of Washington's Danielle Lawrie). Among her 12 K's last Saturday were ones that put her in sole possession of seventh place in the Pac-10 record books and among the NCAA's 25 all-time strikeout leaders. Among the greats Penna has passed on the strikeout list along the way? Two-time Olympian Jennie Finch (1,028).
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 on April 4 built her ongoing school shutout record to 46.
WIN RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Oregon State on April 3, Penna recorded her 106th career victory and passed three-time All-American Dana Sorensen as the winningest pitcher in Stanford history. With 110 career wins to date, she ties UCLA's Anjelica Selden as the seventh-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history and the 24th 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 999.1 innings in her four years on The Farm. That total ranks sixth in Pac-10 history, 13 innings short of fifth-place Anjelica Selden (UCLA `08). In her next outing, she will become the first pitcher at Stanford and the sixth in conference history to throw 1,000 innings.
SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS: Penna's 26 wins tie for fourth on the Stanford single-season chart, her 262 K's rank sixth 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 35 strikeouts short of adding her name to that elite list.
THE .300 CLUB
Only five Stanford players have ever finished their careers with a batting average over .300, but senior Maddy Coon is attempting to make it six. Coon currently boasts a .304 career average and could join Jessica Mendoza `02, Sarah Beeson `02, Jackie Rinehart `07, Lauren Lappin `06 and Catalina Morris `06 in the .300 club at the end of her career.
THE .400 CLUB
Two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza is the only Stanford player who has ever hit .400 or better in a season, doing so three times during her career. Junior Alissa Haber (.426) and freshman Ashley Hansen (.414) are both attempting to match her feat this season.
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 .426 batting average stands fifth in the conference and among the top 30 nationally. Her current season average, as well as her slugging percentage (.743), are second only to the figures that 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 ... Hansen, Maddy Coon and Shannon Koplitz have all hit in eight of the 12 Pac-10 games, and Hansen has six multi-hit games in conference play ... Hansen heads into the week on the longest active streak on the team, having hit in each of the last five games.
CRACKING THE TOP-10
Alissa Haber cracked the school's all-time top-10 in hits last month, became the program's ninth player to get her 200th career hit on April 14 and now has 205 for her career. Just a junior, she has already etched her name on seven of Stanford's career top-10 charts (hits, walks, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases).
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 43 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 .414 batting average, 63 hits, 14 doubles and 40 RBI. She is also the conference's leader in triples (5), and just one short of Stanford's single-season record.
Since being shut out by Oklahoma State on the first day of the season, Stanford has scored in 41 consecutive games and posted one of the nation's top 20 scoring averages. The Cardinal has scored five or more runs 25 times this year, averages 5.72 runs per game and has accumulated more than three times the runs of its opponents (246-79). The team is carrying the best batting average in program history (.299).
Stanford's fielding percentage is the third best in school history (.974) and best since the 2005 and 2006 squads set the bar at .979. Stanford has made just one error in the last 39 innings.
Junior Alissa Haber hit her 48th career double last Tuesday, joining Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson as one of the top-three double-hitters in school history. Only nine Stanford players, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more career doubles. Haber needs just two more doubles to become the third Stanford player to hit 50 and five more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10. She ranks sixth nationally in doubles per game (0.40).
The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season and set a new school record last Tuesday with 15 on the year. The 2009 team, which is currently carrying the best batting average (.299) in school history, has topped the previous-best 14-triple efforts of the 2005 and 2006 teams. Ashley Hansen leads the way with five triples this year, and is just one short of Stanford's single-season record.
13 STRAIGHT WINNING SEASONS
Head Coach John Rittman has already ensured that his team will record its 13th straight winning season this year. With a 37-6 record and the fourth-best winning percentage in the country (.860), Stanford has been guaranteed to finish over .500 since late March. Rittman took over the program in 1997 and led it to its first winning season ever that year. He has now kept the team over .500 in each of his 13 seasons and reached 40 wins 10 times.
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 133 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 133 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), seventh in home runs (27), fifth in runs (138) and sixth in RBI (133). Also with 173 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).
Alissa Haber is one of the most versatile hitters in school history. Recently, Haber joined 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.
IN THE CLUTCH
Juniors Alissa Haber and Shannon Koplitz have proved to work the best under pressure for the Cardinal. Haber is Stanford's best hitter with runners on base (.426) and runners in scoring position (.412). Koplitz is the team's best bet with two outs (.389), is 4-for-5 with bases loaded and leads the team with 15 two-out RBI. Another clutch hitter? Ashley Hansen is 6-for-12 with bases loaded, and has driven in a run 17 of the 22 times she has come up with a runner on third and less than two outs (.773).
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 a team-high .333 in Pac-10 games this year, 15 points higher than in non-conference play. She was 2-for-9 (.222) with four RBI and a home run in the Arizona series 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 another one at Arizona on Friday and leads the team with nine on the season. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill now has 35 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 in third place on Stanford's career home run chart behind Mendoza and Smith.
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 35). By comparison, Mendoza hit 36 of her 50 bombs by the end of her junior season. Midway through her junior year, Haber has 48 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 .385 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. Four 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 three extra-inning games this year, against Cal Poly on March 23, against Washington on March 28 and against Arizona State last Saturday. Stanford is 3-0 in those games, outscoring opponents 3-0 in extra frames. Stanford is 4-0 when tied entering the final inning of play.
...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/.
TEAM USA PICKS
Freshman shortstop Ashley Hansen and sophomore outfielder Alissa Haber are among the 27 initial athletes invited to attend the 2009 USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp in Chula Vista, Calif., June 8-12. The list includes a number of current and former college standouts, as well as eight 2008 Olympians. Stanford alum Lauren Lappin `06, who won a silver medal with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics last summer, will also be attending the camp. Hansen, just 18 and a college freshman, is the youngest player on the invitee list.
STANFORD IN PAC-10 PLAY
Stanford enters the fifth week of conference play in fifth place in the conference. 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.
ABOUT SAN JOSE STATE
Series Record: Stanford is 18-10 (.643) against the Spartans all-time.
Last Meeting: Maddy Coon belted a home run over the left center field fence in the third inning, helping the Cardinal come from behind to take down the Spartans at Smith Family Stadium on April 22 of last season, 7-3. In 5.1 innings of relief, Missy Penna struck out eight batters, including four of the first five she saw, allowed just four baserunners and didn't allow a single run.
Last SJSU Victory: The Spartans upset Stanford on May 8, 2002 when a wild pitch cost the Cardinal a 1-0 decision in the second game of a doubleheader.
Current Streak: Stanford has won the last eight times that the Cardinal and Spartans have played.
Scouting Report: The Spartans are 18-29 this season and have lost six of their last eight contests. Their biggest win of the year came last Friday however, when they took a one-run decision from Hawai'i. The Spartans have a deep bench and have sent 22 different batters to the plate this year. Of the more consistent members of the lineup, junior second baseman Kelli Fangonilo has been the best offensively (.322, 23 RBI). With 10 doubles and 17 extra-base hits, Fangonilo also has the best power numbers on the team, although junior All-WAC selection Sarah Taylor paces the team with three home runs. In the circle, the trio of Amanda Pridmore, Elyssa Fox and Deanna Mauer has combined for a 3.62 ERA and 182 K's. Pridmore has been the best bet, with a 2.72 ERA, 85 K's and eight wins.
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 email@example.com.
IT COULD HAPPEN AGAINST SJSU...
PENNA, 1 WIN - Missy Penna is one win away from becoming the 23rd-winningest pitcher in NCAA history. One win would also tie her for third place on Stanford's single-season chart (27).
PENNA, 1 SHUTOUT - Penna needs just one more shutout this year to match her own school single-season record (15) set in 2008.
HABER, 1 DOUBLE - Alissa Haber needs one double to tie for fifth place on Stanford's single-season double list. She is two doubles short of hitting 50 for her career (would be just the third Stanford player ever to do so).
HABER, 2 STEALS - Haber needs just two more steals to hit 30 for her career. Only four other Stanford players have ever tallied that many.
COON, 2 DOUBLES - Coon needs just two doubles to join teammate Alissa Haber as one of the top five double-hitters in program history.
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.