The Road To OKC: Stanford Opens Postseason Play At Home Friday

May 20, 2010

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Tournament Central

THIS WEEK: The No. 15/16 Stanford Cardinal (36-17, 8-13 Pac-10) has been selected to host an NCAA Regional for the fifth time since 2001 and will welcome No. 16 overall seed Hawai’i (44-13, 19-1 WAC), Texas Tech (36-16, 7-11 Big 12) and UC Davis (26-27, 15-6 Big West) to The Farm to open the tournament. Stanford will begin regional play against Texas Tech on Friday at 6 p.m. PT. Hawaii and UC Davis will meet in Friday’s first game at 3 p.m. at Smith Family Stadium.

THE SCHEDULE:
Friday, May 21
3 p.m. Game 1 - Hawaii vs. UC Davis
6 p.m. Game 2 - Stanford vs. Texas Tech

Saturday, May 22
12 p.m. Game 3 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
3 p.m. Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
6 p.m. Game 5 - Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Sunday, May 23
1 p.m. Game 6 - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
3:30 p.m. Game 7 - Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary)

POSTSEASON CHATTER: The Cardinal will be participating in the NCAA Tournament for the 13th consecutive year, dating back to 1998 when the team made its first postseason appearance in John Rittman’s second year as head coach. The Cardinal has won six regional titles and made appearances in the Women’s College World Series in 2001 and 2004. Stanford has reached a Super Regional series four of the last six years, and holds a 32-28 (.533) all-time record in postseason play.

STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: The Cardinal is 16-15 against the 2010 tournament field with 10 of those 16 wins coming at home. In addition to the six fellow Pac-10 teams that qualified, Stanford faced BYU, Florida, Hawai’i, Illinois, McNeese State, North Carolina, Saint Mary’s, Syracuse, Tennessee and UC Davis earlier this year.

UP NEXT: Should the Cardinal advance to a super regional, it is matched up with the Tuscaloosa Regional featuring the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed Alabama. The Crimson Tide is hosting Alcorn State, Lipscomb and UAB this weekend. The winner of that regional will face the Stanford Regional champion.

ALL-CONFERENCE ACCOLADES: Six Cardinal were recognized this season by the Pac-10 Conference. Senior catcher Rosey Neill led the way, becoming the first player in conference history to be named the Defensive Player of the Year three times. Senior outfielder Alissa Haber and sophomore infielder Ashley Hansen were both first team selections. Haber is the 14th player in Stanford history to be a four-time all-Pac-10 honoree. Senior third baseman Shannon Koplitz received Second Team accolades for a second straight season, earning her third career conference honor. Freshmen Teagan Gerhart and Jenna Rich were both selected to the All-Freshmen team, and they joined Neill as Honorable Mention all-conference picks.

NFCA ALL-WEST REGION AWARDS: Three Cardinal were selected to the NFCA All-West Region teams. Senior outfielder Alissa Haber was named to the First Team for the third straight season, and became just the fourth player at Stanford to be selected in each of her four years on The Farm. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Hansen and freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart were Second Team picks. It marked the second all-region honor for Hansen after she was selected to the first team in 2009.

IN THE POLLS: The Cardinal remained at No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and moved up one spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top-25, coming in at No. 16. The Cardinal has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade. Seven of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with as many as four appearing in the top-10.

PAC-10 WRAP-UP: With an 8-13 record, Stanford finished in a tie with Oregon for sixth place in the notoriously tough Pac-10 Conference. Washington, the defending national champions, claimed the conference crown with a 17-4 record. UCLA (14-7) finished second, while Arizona was third at 13-8. Arizona State and California tied for fourth with identical 10-11 records. Seven Pac-10 teams were awarded bids to this year’s NCAA Tournament, with five of the seven receiving one of the 16 seeds.

FOR THE RECORD: The 2010 Stanford team is on the verge of setting new season records. Its 80 stolen bases and .296 batting average already tie for the single best mark in program history. The team’s 79 doubles, seven triples, 34 home runs, 235 RBI, .443 slugging percentage, 263 runs, 165 walks, .975 fielding percentage, 295 strikeouts and 19 shutouts all rank among the top-10 all-time in school history.

TOUGH DEFENSE: Stanford has tallied a shutout in 19 of its 36 wins this season. Eight of those were run-rule victories for the Cardinal. Overall, the team has earned 12 of its 36 wins by the run-rule. Additionally, Stanford’s .981 fielding percentage in conference play leads the Pac-10.

DOUBLES QUEEN: Senior Alissa Haber recorded her 71st career double last weekend on Senior Day against Oregon. That mark breaks former Cardinal great Jessica Mendoza’s eight-year-old record. She is second on the team this season with 14. As a junior in 2009, Haber set a school single season record and led the nation with 26 doubles.

FREE PASSES: Stanford’s three seniors, Alissa Haber, Shannon Koplitz and Rosey Neill, have combined to post 77 of the Cardinal’s 165 walks this season. Neill leads the way with 30, while Haber and Koplitz have 27 and 20, respectively. All three are among the top-5 in career walks in school history - Neill (122, 2nd), Haber (104, 4th) and Koplitz (91, 5th).

GERHART’S GREATNESS: Freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart has already proved to be one of the best to wear a Cardinal uniform. Her 11 shutouts this season ties for the sixth-best mark by a Stanford pitcher ever. Also, her 22 victories and 173 strikeouts are the 10th most among the career numbers. She is just the second Stanford pitcher to throw three no-hitters in one season and the first in over a decade, joining Mary Crouch who accomplished that feat in 1999. More impressively, Gerhart did so in three consecutive games beginning with Santa Clara on Mar. 19 and in a double-header versus Princeton and Saint Mary’s on Mar. 20.

CAREER THEFTS: Sophomore outfielder Sarah Hassman has already penciled her name in the Cardinal record book for stolen bases. Hassman, who led the team last season with 19 stolen bases, has surpassed that mark in 2010 and once again leads the squad, along with Alissa Haber, with 22. Her 41 career thefts is fourth all-time in program history. Former Cardinal-great Jessica Mendoza tops the Stanford list with 86 career stolen bases, while Haber is second with 55.

THE .300 CLUB: Only seven Stanford players have ever finished their careers with a batting average over .300, but senior Shannon Koplitz is attempting to make it eight. Koplitz is hitting a career-best .345 this season and just under the mark with a .298 average for her career. She is flirting with the idea of joining Jessica Mendoza ‘02, Sarah Beeson ‘02, Lauren Lappin ‘06, Catalina Morris ‘06, Jackie Rinehart ‘07, Maddy Coon ‘09 and Alissa Haber ‘10 in the .300 club when her career ends.

THE .400 CLUB: Senior Alissa Haber is on the verge of becoming just the second player in school history to finish her career with a batting average over .400. Haber currently holds a .406 career average and would join two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza (.416) as the only players to hit over .400 in a career.

HARD TO HANDLE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber entered 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. In 2010, Haber is hitting .442 with a Pac-10 leading 72 hits on 163 at-bats. She has tallied 47 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 32 RBI.

BEHIND THE PLATE: Stanford has arguably the best defensive player in the Pac-10 behind the plate in Rosey Neill. She is the three-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Her .993 career fielding percentage ranks second in Cardinal history as does her 1,677 putouts. Offensively, she has been looked upon to provide power in the middle of the lineup. On the season, she is hitting .300, with 42 hits, including 11 doubles and four home runs, 29 RBI and a .464 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. This season, Hansen has scored 41 runs, while hitting .339 with 56 hits, including a Pac-10 leading 18 doubles, a triple, three home runs, and 37 RBI.

IN THE CIRCLE: Freshman Teagan Gerhart earned the majority of the time in the circle for the Cardinal this season. In fact, she is sixth in the conference with 190.1 innings pitched. The rookie is 22-6 with a 1.65 ERA on the year. Her 22 victories is fourth in the Pac-10 and 39th nationally. She pitched her first complete-game shut out versus McNeese State in a 9-0 run-rule victory, and now has 11 on the season. Gerhart has also amassed 173 strikeouts for the Cardinal this season, ranking sixth in the Pac-10.

TAKING NOTICE: Gerhart swept the player of the week honors for the Cardinal on Mar. 23. The freshman was first named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, and then garnered both the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week honors after throwing three straight no-hitters, which began with a perfect game against Santa Clara on Mar. 19. Gerhart threw 26.0 scoreless innings while registering 34 strikeouts that weekend at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic. She allowed just three hits and one walk as she led the Cardinal to a perfect 5-0 tournament record. Senior Alissa Haber became the Cardinal’s second honoree of the season, picking up Pac-10 Player of the Week accolades on Apr. 5.

VETERAN PITCHING: Junior Ashley Chinn returns to the squad as an upperclassman that carries a 35-11 overall record with a 2.91 ERA this season. She has thrown 35 complete games, including 10 shutouts. This season she has thrown 113.0 innings, tallying 107 strikeouts, both of which are career highs. At No. 1 Washington, Chinn held the Huskies to just three runs on nine hits while stiking out 10 batters. Last week versus No. 20 Oregon, the junior posted three consecutive wins for the first time this season.

ROOKIE DEBUT: Freshman Jenna Rich has produced solid numbers in her first season on The Farm. Rich is hitting .331, tallying 56 hits, including a team-best 12 home runs, and 10 doubles, two triples, 46 RBI and 106 total bases. Her first career home run came in the season opener against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, the short stop belted a two-run walk-off homer to end the game in the fifth inning. Two days later, also against the Islanders, Rich hit a pair of long balls on consecutive at-bats to lead Stanford to a 5-2 win. Rich earned her first collegiate start in the circle versus Saint Mary’s on 3/21. She threw 5.0 innings, striking out three batters for her first career win. She posted her first complete-game shutout on May 1 versus No. 7 Arizona State.

LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior Alissa Haber is among the 10 finalists for the 2010 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.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES: Stanford’s Alissa Haber and Teagan Gerhart were among the 25 players named to the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. The 25 picks represented 20 different schools and seven different conferences. Haber and Gerhart were two of the eight selections from the Pac-10.

SOLID VETERANS: With six upperclassmen on its roster of 18, 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 and Melisa Koutz these veterans look to improve upon their two straight NCAA Super Regional appearances in 2010. Together the juniors and seniors combined to produce 360 runs, 583 hits and 72 homeruns entering this season. 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.

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.

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. Both Haber and Hansen will join former Cardinal standouts Lauren Lappin and Jessica Mendoza on the U.S. National Team in 2010.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 14th season at the helm of the Cardinal program, head coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 598-267-3 (.691) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 14 consecutive winning seasons, 13 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.

ABOUT TEXAS TECH
Series Record: Stanford is a perfect 11-0 all-time versus Texas Tech.
Last Meeting: The last meeting between the Cardinal and Red Raiders came last year at the 2009 Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Stanford won 6-1.
Common Ground: The only common opponent for the Cardinal and Red Raiders in 2010 is the Oregon Ducks. Texas Tech defeated Oregon 4-3 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, while Stanford is 3-0 as it swept the Ducks in its final Pac-10 series of the regular season.
Scouting Report: Texas Tech enters the postseason with a 36-16 overall record and finished tied for sixth in the Big 12 Conference with a 7-11 mark. The Red Raiders are led by a trio of underclassmen, sophomores Emily Bledsoe and Logan Hall and freshman Mikey Kenney, who are all hiting over .300. Bledsoe is leading the way with a .359 average and 55 hits. She and Hall, who is hitting .325, have combined to hit 32 of the team’s 71 doubles. Kenney is leading the team with 15 home runs and 40 RBI while hitting .324. In the circle for Texas Tech is ace Ashly Jacobs. The senior is 14-8 with a 1.92 ERA. She has tallied 115 strikeouts while throwing four complete-game shutouts for the Red Raiders. Next in line is sophomore Karli Merlich, who is 11-3 on the season with 62 strikeouts and a 2.68 ERA in 96.2 innings pitched.

ABOUT HAWAI’I
Series Record:
Stanford is 6-2 all-time versus Hawai’i.
Last Meeting: Hawai’i defeated Stanford 11-5 in the championship game of the Paradise Classic in Honolulu during the opening weekend of the 2010 season.
Last Stanford Victory: Stanford shut out Hawai’i, 2-0, in the team’s first meeting of the Paradise Classic this season in February.
Common Ground: The Cardinal and the Rainbow Wahine have played 11 common opponents this season - McNeese State, Texas A&M-CC, UNLV, Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, California, San Jose State and Nevada. Hawai’i went 12-7 in those games, while Stanford was 14-7.
Scouting Report: Hawai’i enters the postseason as the tournament’s No. 16 overall seed with a 44-13 overall record and the WAC champions with a 19-1 record. The Rainbow Wahine bats have been deadly this season as the team has shattered the NCAA mark for home runs in a season, set by Arizona a year ago, with 141 long balls. The team boasts two players with more than 20 home runs and seven players who have hit 10 or more. Hawai’i is led by a pair of freshman .400 hitters. Kelly Majam, a redshirt freshman, is leading the team with a .409 average, 28 home runs and 58 RBI to slug an impressive .957. Jessica Iwata, a true freshman, is right behind Majam with a .404 batting average. Iwata has tallied 21 doubles, 17 home runs and 53 RBI. The Rainbow Wahine have relied on two underclassmen to carry them in the circle this season. Sophomore Stephanie Ricketts is 24-7 with a 2.37 ERA. She has 139 strikeouts and five complete-game shutouts in 201.0 innings pitched. Freshman Kaia Parnaby is 19-6 with a 2.89 ERA and 179 Ks in 152.1 innings of work.

ABOUT UC DAVIS
Series Record:
Stanford is 12-3 overall versus UC Davis.
Last Meeting: In the last meeting between the teams, Stanford downed the Aggies, 17-0, in five innings. The Cardinal put up a 15-run first inning, including a grand slam by pitcher Teagan Gerhart.
Last UC Davis Victory: The last time UC Davis defeated the Stanford was in 1995 during the Cardinal’s second collegiate season. The Aggies won the second game of a double-header, 2-1, on the Cardinal’s turf.
Common Ground: The Cardinal and aggies have faced 19 common opponents this season. UC Davis is 18-18 against those teams, while Stanford posted a 21-7 record against common competition.
Scouting Report: UC Davis has reached the postseason for the first time in school history after tying for the Big West title with a 15-6 record in conference play. The Aggies had six players nab All-Big West honors, including Pitcher of the Year Alex Holmes, Freshman Field Player of the Year Elizabeth Santana and Coach of the Year Karen Yoder. Holmes is 16-9 with a 2.94 ERA and 133 strikeouts. She also leads the team offensively with a .352 batting average and 58 hits. Santana is hitting .348 with 55 hits and a team-best 13 doubles, three triples and 16 walks.

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