Showdown For The Crown: Stanford Plays Washington, UCLA For Pac-10 Title

May 5, 2009

Stanford, Calif. - UP NEXT
With the chance to win the school's second Pac-10 title in its own hands, the No. 2/4 Stanford softball team (44-6, 13-5 Pac-10) sets out on its most grueling road trip of the season this week. The Cardinal squares off with No. 4/5 Washington and co-conference leader UCLA in a three game series that is split between cities more than 1,100 miles apart - Seattle and Los Angeles. Stanford and Washington play live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Thursday afternoon (1 p.m.) at Husky Softball Stadium, then the Cardinal and Bruins wrap up the regular season with Friday (3 p.m.) and Saturday (noon) affairs at Easton Stadium.

LAST TIME OUT
Last week, the 2009 Cardinal accomplished two things that no other Stanford team has done - sweep a weekend series with the Arizona schools and take the season series from the Arizona Wildcats. Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn stifled two of the nation's top-three offenses and junior Alissa Haber rallied the team behind them to pick up three critical conference wins. With the successful series, Stanford vaulted into first place in the conference standings and matched its highest Pac-10 win total since the league went to a 21-game schedule in 2000. Penna posted her 1,200th career strikeout on Friday night and held the Sun Devils scoreless for the first time in more than two months. On Saturday, Chinn held the Wildcats to just three runs to nab her first career win over a ranked opponent. On Sunday, Penna pitched her final regular-season home game and threw a one-hitter against the nation's top offense (one that averages nearly nine runs per game). For the weekend, Penna allowed a combined three hits and one run and struck out 24 batters in 14 innings. She earned both the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week awards for her efforts. Haber was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the first time in her career.

THE PAC-10 RACE
Entering the final weekend of Pac-10 play, Stanford (13-5) and UCLA (13-5) are tied for first place in the conference and are the only two teams who control their own fate. Each must win two of three games to guarantee at least a share of the title and can take it outright by sweeping the final series. Washington (12-6) is just one game off the title pace and remains an active contender for the top spot, though it must upset Stanford and rely on the Cardinal and/or Cal to take a game from the Bruins. Arizona is still mathematically alive, though would require a very specific set of circumstances to finish first (Stanford-UCLA split and both lose their Thursday games, Washington drops at least one to Cal and the Wildcats sweep the Oregons). Stanford can do no worse than fourth place in the conference, matching its finish from 2008 (11-10). The Cardinal won its only Pac-10 title in 2005, tying for the conference crown with a 13-8 record. The 2009 team has already matched its highest Pac-10 win total since the conference went to a 21-game schedule in 2000 and ensured a winning conference record for the sixth time in school history.

POSTSEASON BUSINESS
After the completion of this weekend's action, Stanford will await the announcement of the 64-team field for the 2009 NCAA Softball Championship. The Cardinal will be looking to earn a bid for the 12th consecutive year, advance to its fourth Super Regional in five seasons, make it to the Women's College World Series for the third time in school history and win its first national championship. The fun begins Sunday night, when the NCAA Selection Show airs on ESPNU at 7 p.m. (PT).

TV TALK
Stanford's game this Thursday is its last of four televised games during the Pac-10 season. The game will be tape delayed and aired locally Friday night at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

40 WINS!
With Stanford's win over Oregon State on April 25, the team secured its 11th 40-win season in 13 years under head coach John Rittman. Rittman and the Cardinal have hit the milestone 11 times in the last 12 years. Stanford was the first team in the Pac-10 to get its 40th win this year and is one of 13 teams to have done so nationally. Notably, the Cardinal hit No. 40 before the month of May for just the third time in school history. Last year's squad and the 2001 WCWS team that won a school-record 54 games were the only other Stanford teams to do so.

SCALING THE POLLS
After sweeping the Arizona schools, Stanford climbed back up to No. 2 in the NFCA poll and remained at No. 4 in the poll produced by USA Softball. The No. 2 rank matches the highest in school history, a feat which prior to this season, Stanford had only accomplished twice (both in 2002). The squad was second in both polls for three consecutive weeks earlier this year, holding a No. 2 rank after the start of Pac-10 play for the first time in school history. 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 12 straight weeks, the longest streak in program history. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appear in both polls, with as many as five appearing in the top 10 and three 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. 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 a win on Thursday and break it with another one on Friday.

EARLY BIRDS
Stanford has scored first in 40 of its 50 games, and only let one of those 40 leads slip away. Of the 10 times that opponents have gotten on the board first, Stanford has come back to win five times. In the first inning, Stanford has scored more times than any other inning (57) and been most likely to keep opponents off the board. In 50 games, Stanford has held opponents to just eight runs in the opening frame.

ROOKIE WATCH
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 73 hits in 50 games already (1.46 per game).
• Mendoza had 13 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and slugged .641 during her rookie season. Hansen already has 18 doubles, five triples and four home runs and is slugging .628.
• Mendoza struck out just 22 times in 195 at bats as a freshman (once every 8.9 AB's). Hansen has struck out just 12 times this year in 180 at bats (once every 15.0 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. On April 1, 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 completed the home season on a high note, beating two top-10 teams and allowing two of the nation's top-three offenses just one combined run and three combined hits in 14 innings of work. On Friday night, Penna became the first pitcher to hold No. 6/7 Arizona State scoreless in more than two months (since Feb. 22). She threw a two-hitter, struck out 11 and became the first pitcher in the country to reach 1,200 career K's. On Sunday, she one-hit the nation's best offense, holding the No. 7/8 Arizona Wildcats (who average nearly nine runs per game) to just one run on one hit. She also struck out 13 batters in the game and helped Stanford take the series from the Wildcats for the first time in school history. For the weekend, Penna posted an 0.50 ERA with 24 K's in 14 innings and an .065 opposing average while facing two of the best offensive teams in the country.
• POTW DOMINATION: Penna has won five Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week awards this year and boasts nine for her career. She won for sweeping the Oregon schools two weeks ago and, despite not winning the Pac-10 award last week, claimed both National Player of the Week honors. She has now swept the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week awards twice this season, having also done so after beating then-No. 2 Washington in late March. She is the first player in school history to win both organizations' honors in the same week as well as the first player in school history to earn a national weekly honor twice in the same year.
• IN THE NATION: Penna ranks among the top 10 pitchers in the country in three major pitching categories. She ranks second in the nation with 17 shutouts, third with 31 wins and is sixth with 310 strikeouts.
• IN THE PAC-10: Penna leads the league in wins (31) and innings pitched (244.1) and ranks second to Washington's Danielle Lawrie with 310 strikeouts. She ranks third in the conference behind Lawrie and UCLA's Megan Langenfeld with a 1.35 ERA and .170 opposing average.
• STRIKEOUT RECORD, CHECK: Penna broke her fourth Stanford career pitching record against Arizona State on April 18, striking out her 1,155th career batter to break Dana Sorensen's strikeout record. Penna now has 1,213 career strikeouts and is in a back-and-forth with Washington's Danielle Lawrie for sixth/seventh place in the Pac-10 record books and 20th/21st in the NCAA record books (Lawrie currently has 1,215). 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 (35, 1996-99). Since then, Penna has continued to dominate. Her shutout against Arizona State last Friday built her ongoing school shutout record to 49.
• 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 115 career wins to date, she is the seventh-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history and tied as the 20th 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 1036.1 innings in her four years on The Farm. That total ranks fourth in Pac-10 history, 42 innings short of third-place Katie Burkhart (Arizona State `08). On April 24, she became the first pitcher at Stanford and the sixth in conference history to throw 1,000 innings.
• SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS: Penna shattered her own single-season shutout record on April 26 against Oregon State, and built her new school record up to 17 last Friday against Arizona State. Penna's 31 wins rank third on the Stanford single-season chart and her 310 K's rank fourth.
• 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: Prior to last Friday, only 23 players in NCAA history had ever reached 1,200 career K's. Penna joined that group with 11 strikeouts against Arizona State, fanning the final batter of the game to become the first active player in the country to reach 1,200.

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 .301 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 (.450) and freshman Ashley Hansen (.406) are both attempting to match her feat this season.

JUNIOR SLUGGERS
Stanford's lineup is anchored by the power-hitting class of 2010. The three Cardinal juniors - Alissa Haber, Rosey Neill and Shannon Koplitz - are the the team's three home run leaders, having accounted for 25 of the team's 39 long balls this year (64 percent). They are slugging well over .600 as a class (.623), more than 200 points higher than the rest of the team combined, and have driven in 96 runs. Career-wise, Haber, Neill and Koplitz are three of the top 11 home run hitters in school history and are all carrying career slugging percentages which would rank among the school's all-time top 10.

HARD TO HANDLE
Two-time All-American Alissa Haber is one of the toughest outs in the Pac-10 right now, as her batting average (.450) stands third in the conference and 14th 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 Slg %).

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 ... Hansen and Haber have hit in 13 of the 18 Pac-10 games, and Hansen has nine multi-hit games in conference play ... Haber heads into the weekend on the longest active streak on the team, having hit in each of the last eight games.

CRACKING THE TOP-10
Alissa Haber cracked the school's all-time top-10 in hits in March, became the program's ninth player to get her 200th career hit on April 14 and now has 219 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).

FAB FROSH
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 50 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, 73 hits, 18 doubles and 48 RBI. She is also the conference's leader in triples (5), and just one short of Stanford's single-season record.

THE OFFENSE
Since being shut out by Oklahoma State on the first day of the season, Stanford has scored in 48 consecutive games and posted one of the nation's top 30 scoring averages. The Cardinal has scored five or more runs 26 times this year, averages 5.42 runs per game and has accumulated more than three times the runs of its opponents (271-86). The team is carrying the best batting average in program history (.299).

THE DEFENSE
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. The team's current season fielding percentage ranks second in the conference, behind only UCLA.

BOTTOM OF THE ORDER STEPPING UP
The bottom third of Stanford's batting order has stepped up over the last few weeks of conference play, with freshmen Jenna Becerra, Sarah Hassman and Maya Burns providing key hits. Burns and Becerra teamed up for back-to-back hits to score the game-winning run in the eighth inning at Arizona State on April 18, while Hassman had four key hits in the Oregon series. Becerra and Hassman singled and scored in the Cardinal's win over Arizona State Friday and Becerra came up with a hit for the tying RBI in a late comeback against Arizona on Saturday. In Sunday's series-clinching win, Burns was 3-for-3 and scored the game-winning run.

DOUBLE DUTY
Junior Alissa Haber hit her 50th career double last week, joining Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson as the only Stanford players to hit 50 or more in their careers. As a matter of fact, only nine Stanford players, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more. Haber, who now has 51 and needs just two more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10, ranks second nationally in doubles per game (0.40). She has hit a career-best 20 doubles this year, joining Beeson, Mendoza and Allister as the only Stanford players to hit 20 or more in a season. Not to be overlooked, freshman Ashley Hansen has 18 doubles this year, the most of any freshman in school history. That total ties for sixth in the Stanford season record books and ranks eighth nationally.

TRIPLE TIME
The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season and set a new school record on April 14 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 44-6 record and the second-best winning percentage in the country (.880), 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.

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.

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. The Pac-10 has claimed 20 of the 27 all-time NCAA softball titles, and landed a team in the national title game 25 times. The league has sent at least seven of its eight teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 10 years.

NO-HITTER CHATTER
Sophomore pitcher Ashley Chinn threw her third career no-hitter against San Jose State on April 22. She threw two no-hitters, including the school's seventh perfect game, as a rookie last season and is now tied for third place on the school's career no-hitter chart. Senior pitcher 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 19 all-time no-hitters.

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 138 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 138 walks rank among the 10 best career totals in Pac-10 history as well (10th). Junior Rosey Neill is making a run at her teammate's single-season record, however. Neill is currently in third place on the school's single-season list with 34 free passes this year.

COON ON THE CLIMB
Maddy Coon has also established herself on a number of the school's other top-10 lists. Currently, Coon ranks fifth in career doubles (46), seventh in home runs (27), sixth in runs (139) and sixth in RBI (136). Also with 176 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
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 (.485) and runners in scoring position (.452). Koplitz is the team's best bet with two outs (.356), is 4-for-5 with bases loaded and leads the team with 17 two-out RBI. Another clutch hitter? Ashley Hansen is 6-for-13 with bases loaded, and has driven in a run 19 of the 27 times she has come up with a runner on third and less than two outs (.704).

HOMER QUEEN
Fresh off matching a school record and ranking 10th nationally with 19 home runs in 2008, junior catcher Rosey Neill is again Stanford's best home run bet this year with nine on the season. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill 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.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE
The Stanford team has already combined for 82 doubles, 15 triples and 39 home runs this season. With a total of 136 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging nearly three per game! How does that stack up? With a week left in the regular season, Stanford has already broken the school triple record, hit more doubles than all but three other teams and is one short of becoming the fifth team in school history to hit 40 homers. Stanford has recorded at least one extra-base hit in 45 out of its 50 contests so far.

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. Nearing the end of her third season, Haber has 51 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 .395 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.

DYNAMIC DUO
Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn have combined to post some of the best numbers in the nation. With two of the top four ERA's in the Pac-10, the pair leads the conference and ranks 12th nationally in ERA (1.50). Currently, the duo has allowed the league's fewest runs (86). Last week, the pair teamed in the sweep of the Arizona schools. Chinn held the nation's top offense to just three runs and got her first career win over a ranked opponent on Saturday, while Penna shut out Arizona State and one-hit Arizona.

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.

THE LONG...
Stanford has played four extra-inning games this year, against Cal Poly on March 23, against Washington on March 28, against Arizona State on April 18 and against Oregon on April 24. Stanford is 4-0 in those games, outscoring opponents 5-0 in extra frames. Stanford is 5-0 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.

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. 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.

ABOUT WASHINGTON
Series Record: Stanford trails Washington 21-30 all-time.
Last Meeting: After a walk-off hit batter gave Stanford the win in 11 innings on March 28, the Cardinal repeated its upset of the then-No. 2 Huskies on March 29. Junior Shannon Koplitz ripped a two-run home run over the left field fence in the fourth inning, breaking up Danielle Lawrie's no-hitter and driving in what proved to be the game's only runs in the 2-0 win.
Last Washington Victory: On April 5 of last season, the Huskies took the first meeting of the series, 4-1, at Husky Softball Stadium. Designated player Ashlyn Watson went 3-for-3 with two RBI to lead the team.
Series Wins: Stanford, which has already clinched the 2009 series between the two teams, also won the series last year by taking two of three. The Cardinal last swept the Huskies in 2004. Washington has not won the series since 2007.
Current Streak: Stanford has won the last four times the two teams played.
Scouting Report: After tying for fifth in the Pac-10 last year and being eliminated in regionals, the Huskies (39-9, 12-6) have been hot this year and are ranked No. 4/5 nationally. The team looks significantly different than last season, however, with Canadian Olympian Danielle Lawrie back in the circle, All-American Ashley Charters back in the batting order and 2007 All-Pac-10 pick Lauren Greer back in the outfield. Charters is hitting better than any player in the Pac-10 (.462) with 18 extra-base hits, while Kimi Pohlman and Ashlyn Watson are both hitting well above .300. Lawrie boasts some of the best pitching numbers in the nation with a 0.76 ERA, a .122 opposing average and 371 strikeouts.

ABOUT UCLA
Series Record: Stanford is 14-38 against the Bruins all-time.
Last Meeting: On March 27, the Bruins snapped Stanford's 28-game win steak with a 7-4 win at Smith Family Stadium. UCLA has been the only team to beat Stanford at home this year.
Last Stanford Victory: The Cardinal last beat UCLA on May 6, 2007 in Los Angeles, spoiling the Bruins' senior day with a 4-1 win. Then-freshman Alissa Haber went 4-for-4 and Missy Penna allowed just one run on three hits to lead Stanford to victory.
Series Wins: UCLA swept the series with the Cardinal last season. Stanford last took the series in 2007.
Current Streak: UCLA has won the last four in a row against Stanford.
Scouting Report: Coming off of a Women's College World Series appearance, the Bruins (38-9, 13-5 Pac-10) were the 2008 Pac-10 runner-up. Voted to win the league this year in a poll of conference coaches, UCLA currently sits tied with Stanford atop the conference standings. Since Stanford last saw the Bruins in March, junior Megan Langenfeld has stepped into a prominent pitching role and owns some of the best numbers in the conference with a 0.99 ERA and .122 opposing average. Junior Kaila Shull (.364) and sophomore Katie Schroeder (.404) pace the Bruins in batting average, but 2008 All-Americans GiOnna DiSalvatore and Amanda Kamekona are close behind with power numbers and 47 combined extra-base hits. The Bruins are the best defensive team in the Pac-10 with a .979 fielding percentage and rank seventh in the nation in scoring average (6.4 runs per game). The Bruins also rank among the nation's top five in both home runs and slugging percentage.

IT COULD HAPPEN THIS WEEKEND...
• TEAM, 2 WINS - Stanford is two wins away from securing a share of its second Pac-10 title in school history.
• TEAM, 1 WIN - Stanford is one win away from posting its best Pac-10 record since the league went to a 21-game schedule in 2000.
• TEAM, 1 HOME RUN - Stanford needs one more long ball to become the fifth team in school history to hit 40 in a single year.
• PENNA, 1 WIN - Missy Penna is one win away from becoming the 18th-winningest pitcher in NCAA history. A sweep this weekend would tie her for 16th in the NCAA record book.
• PENNA, 1 SHUTOUT - Penna needs one shutouts to become the first pitcher in school history to post 50 for her career.
• HABER, 3 HITS - Alissa Haber needs three hits to reach 80 for the season. Only Jessica Mendoza and Jackie Rinehart have ever done that at Stanford.
• HABER, 2 STEALS - If Haber steals two more bases, she will become the only player other than Mendoza to score 20 bases in a single year.
• KOPLITZ, 1 RBI - Shannon Koplitz is one RBI short of a spot on the school's single-season RBI top-10 list.

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 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.

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