No. 10/12 Stanford Softball Opens 2010 Season In Hawai'i

Feb. 10, 2010

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THIS WEEK: The 2010 season is here! Coming off a fourth-place finish in the Pac-10, a 48-11 record and an appearance in the Stanford Super Regional, the Cardinal softball team is eager to pick up where it left off last May. The season gets underway at 4 p.m. HT on Thursday, when Stanford faces Texas A&M Corpus Christi in Honolulu, Hawai'i.

THE WEEKEND SCHEDULE: Stanford will play five games at UH's Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium this weekend. On Thursday, Stanford opens with Texas A&M Corpus Christi at 4 p.m. HT. The Cardinal will then take on McNeese State and host Hawai'i on Friday, beginning at 3 p.m. HT. On Saturday, the teams will be seeded based on their performances from the previous days. The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds will play at 10 a.m. followed by the No. 1 seed versus the No. 4 seed at Noon HT. The third-place consolation game will be played at 2 p.m. HT, and the championship game will take place at 4 p.m. HT.

2009 IN REVIEW: Stanford is coming off a strong 2009 season, in which it went 48-11 and finished fourth in the competitive Pac-10 Conference. The program posted its 11th 40-win season, recorded the best winning percentage (.814) in school history, made its 12th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and made a postseason run to its fourth NCAA Super Regional in five years. At the end of the year, eight players were honored with All-Pac-10 awards, four received all-region recognition and three - pitcher Missy Penna, outfielder Alissa Haber and infielder Ashley Hansen - were named All-Americans.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON...: Stanford's Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen were among the 50 players named to the initial USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. The 50 picks represent 35 different schools and 14 different conferences. Haber and Hansen were two of the 12 selections from the Pac-10. Last season, Haber and senior Missy Penna were both among the 50 preseason picks as well. Penna joined Hansen on the top 25 list last year, and Penna went on to be one of the 10 finalists.

PRESEASON PICKS: Stanford was selected to finish in a tie for fourth with Arizona State in the Pac-10 this season in the annual poll of the league's coaches. Washington, the 2009 National Champions was chosen in the top spot, while Arizona and UCLA finished ahead of the Cardinal.

IN THE POLLS: Stanford once again ranked among the nation's top programs when the two major preseason softball polls were released in January. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade, was listed at No. 10 in the NFCA/USA Today poll. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball ranking, the Cardinal was selected 12th. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with as many as five appearing in the top-10.

HARD TO HANDLE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber enters her senior season with 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 three years, Haber is a three-time All-American. She joins Mendoza as the only players in school history to enter their senior year as a three-time All-American.

BEHIND THE PLATE: Rosey Neill returns for her senior season as a two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Her .992 career fielding percentage ranks second in Cardinal history as does her 1,371 putouts. Offensively, she will be looked upon to provide power in the middle of the lineup. For her career she is hitting .267 and has collected 116 RBI, 35 home runs and a .534 slugging percentage.

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE: Ashley Hansen returns to the infield for the Cardinal this season after posting one of the most decorated rookie seasons on The Farm. Hansen became the school's second Pac-10 Freshman of the Year after recording an astonishing .400 batting average, which included a team-leading 55 RBI and five triples as well as 84 hits, 26 doubles and four homers. She was the only freshman named to the All-Pac-10 team and garnered Second Team All-America honors.

IN THE CIRCLE: With the departure of ace Missy Penna to graduation, the Cardinal will look to junior Ashley Chinn to dominate in the circle this season. Chinn carries a 24-5 overall record with a 2.19 ERA. She has thrown 26 complete games, including eight shutouts. Stanford also welcomes newcomer Teagan Gerhart to the pitching staff. The rookie will share time with Chinn in the circle this season. Rookie Jenna Rich could also pitch some innings for Stanford this season.

SOLID VETERANS: With seven upperclassmen on its roster of 20, the Cardinal is still a fairly young team. However, the team's veterans look to continue their production and success at several key positions. Seniors Alissa Haber, Shannon Koplitz, and Rosey Neill have been starters since their first year on The Farm and enter their senior season with experience and leadership. Along with juniors Autumn Albers, Ashley Chinn, Melisa Koutz, and Brittany Minder, these veterans look to improve upon their two straight NCAA Super Regional appearances this season. Together the juniors and seniors have combined to produce 360 runs, 583 hits and 72 homeruns. Along with Haber's three All-America nods, this group of veterans has garnered seven All-Pac 10 awards, five all-region honors and various team awards.

TEAM USA TIES: Head Coach John Rittman was a member of the United States National Team coaching staff from 2001-08. During the summer of 2009, current Stanford players Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen competed for the red, white and blue in the Canada Cup and the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City. Haber also helped the team win gold at the Japan Cup, while Hansen was a part of the team that won gold in the Pan Am Qualifier in Venezuela.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 14th season at the helm of the Cardinal, head coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 514-250-3 (.672) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 13 consecutive winning seasons, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 11 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.

SERIES RECORDS: Stanford's most familiar opponent of the weekend is Hawai'i. The Cardinal holds a 5-1 (.833) all-time record against the Rainbow Wahine. The most recent meeting between the two sqauds came at the Stanford Classic in 2004 with the Cardinal defeating UH 4-2. Stanford is a perfect 2-0 all-time against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, while its only meeting with McNeese State was the 2009 season opener at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Stanford downed the Cowgirls, 15-2, in five innings.

SCOUTING TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI: Texas A&M Corpus Christi went 23-31 a year ago with a 12-16 record in the Southland Conference. Head coach Jake Schumann is in his fourth season at the helm of the program. The Islanders welcome back six starters as they add eight transfers to the squad this season. Sophomore Cassie Redman is the top-returning player, hitting .306, while tallying 24 runs, three doubles and 12 RBI. Sophomore catcher Alaina Byers hit .287 a year ago and registered a team-best six home runs and was second with 31 RBI.

SCOUTING McNEESE STATE: McNeese State is coming off a second-place finish in the Southland Conference with an 18-6 record. The Cowgirls return seven starters and two pitchers from last year's squad that posted a 31-28 overall record for first year head coach Natalie Poole. Offensively, the Cowgirls are led by junior Linsey Langner, who led the team last season with a .269 average, 30 runs, 49 hits and 15 stolen bases. Junior Molly Guidry and sophomore Claire Terracina have also been consitent producers for the Cowgirls. Defensively, the pitching staff is comprised of four newcomers, including junior transfers Kelsey McClain and Kayla Shepherd.

SCOUTING HAWAI'I: The Rainbow Wahine were 30-24 overall last season and finished 3rd with a 15-6 mark in the Western Athletic Conference. UH will have a lot to make up for this season as it lost seven seniors from last year's squad, including All-American Clare Warwich and All-WAC selection Tanisha Milca. However, Amanda Tauali'i enters her seniors season as one of the team leaders offensively. She hit .338 as a junior and posted a team-high 15 home runs and 36 RBI. She will have help from sophomore DP Makani Duhaylonsod-Kaleimamahu, who hit .298 as a rookie, and senior Kanani Pu'u-Warren who recorded a .255 average last year. In the circle, UH returns Stephanie Ricketts who was 22-11 last year with a 1.81 ERA. She totaled nine shutouts, including a pair of no-hitters for the Rainbow Wahine.

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