No. 3 Softball Slated To Face No. 19 Pacific This Weekend
Feb. 5, 2002
Fresh off a doubleheader sweep of Bay Area rival Santa Clara, Stanford travels to Stockton this weekend to play a doubleheader with No. 19 Pacific at Bill Simoni Field at 12 p.m. The Cardinal looks to continue its hot start after blanking Santa Clara 11-0 in the first game of last weekend's twinbill and 6-1 in the second contest. Stanford needs to get comfortable playing away from Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium, the Cardinal plays its next 15 games away from The Farm until a Mar. 3 matchup with Baylor under the lights.
Stanford in the National Rankings
The women's softball squad checks in at No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason top-25 poll, released two weeks ago as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. Stanford, which finished last year ranked third also, will battle 11 teams this season currently ranked in the top-25, while competing in arguably the strongest conference in the country. Currently the top-10 programs in the nation are as follows: No. 1 Arizona, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 LSU, No. 5 California, No. 6 Iowa, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Arizona State, No. 9 Washington and No. 10 Cal State Fullerton.
Scouting the Tigers
No. 19 Pacific (1-0) opened its 2002 schedule last weekend with an impressive 4-0 shutout victory over No. 5 California in Stockton. The win was the eighth in a row against the Golden Bears, who finished with an overall record of 54-18 last season. Senior Cindy Ball hurled her 31st career shutout in the victory, which moved her into a tie with Brandee McArthur for the most career shutouts at Pacific. Freshman Kristen Allen hit a solo homerun in the fifth inning while playing in her first collegiate game. Pacific, like Stanford, plays a challenging schedule in 2002. The Tigers face nine ranked opponents during the year.
The Rittman File
John Rittman begins his sixth season at the helm of the Stanford women's softball program after being named head coach on July 12, 1996. In just five years on The Farm, Rittman has brought the Stanford softball program from a non-scholarship club-level program to a fully-funded championship contender. The 2001 season was the most impressive campaign under Rittman's tenure, as the Cardinal finished with its best single-season overall record at 54-16-1 and highest ranking at No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA national poll. Rittman was awarded the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year honor and currently has accumulated a 210-100-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.
Bucking the Broncos
Stanford opened the season in convincing fashion last Saturday, completing a doubleheader sweep of rival Santa Clara at home. The Cardinal shutout the Broncos 11-0 in the first game, then recorded a 6-1 victory in game two. Stanford ambushed the Broncos with an 11-run third inning in the first game of the doubleheader, which was called with the Cardinal leading 11-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kira Ching and Jessica Mendoza paced the Cardinal with two hits apiece in three at-bats, as each player in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit in the game. Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq combined on the three-hit shutout, as the Cardinal needed just 1:37 to claim game one. In the second contest, the Cardinal got on the board early and cruised to a 6-1 victory. Mendoza went 3-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBI to lead the charge, while Beeson added two hits and three RBI for the Card. Freshman Elizabeth Bendig scored the final Cardinal run when Beeson reached on an error in the sixth. Dana Sorensen was masterful on the mound, limiting Santa Clara to one hit in five shutout innings to preserve the sweep.
What Else Is New?
Three-time First Team All-American senior Jessica Mendoza continues to pick up right where she left off in 2001. The 2001 First Team All Pac-10 selection went 5-for-6 with four runs scored and three RBI in the two games combined and is currently hitting at an .833 clip. Mendoza was equally tough at the dish last season, leading the Cardinal with a .405 average in 71 games started. In addition, Mendoza led Stanford in the following offensive categories: runs (70), hits (83), home runs (14), total bases (151), slugging percentage (.737), on-base percentage (.504) and stolen bases (31).
Starting Strong & Looking To Keep Things Going
Opening strong hasn't been much of a problem for the Cardinal since it began play back in 1994. Stanford has posted a 7-2 mark in home openers since the inception of the program, and has made a habit of keeping that winning streak going. The Cardinal won its first 12 games of the year in 2001, started 7-0 in 2000 and won seven of its first eight contests in 1999. It will be important for the Cardinal to get off to a good start with four tournaments on the horizon.
Tigers a Familiar Foe
Stanford squared off against Pacific four times last season, with the Cardinal claiming victories in three of those meetings. The programs have met 15 times overall, with the Tigers holding a slight 8-7 advantage. In 2001, Stanford swept an early-season doubleheader at home against Pacific, winning the first game 2-0 and the second game 4-0. The two schools met up again in May during the NCAA Regionals at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Tigers shutout Stanford 2-0 in the first matchup between the teams, forcing a rematch in the championship game with a berth in the Women's College World Series on the line. Stanford rebounded in convincing fashion, routing the Tigers 9-1 in five innings to advance to Oklahoma City.
Tourney-Tested Road Warriors
The early portion of the season will include the annual tournament schedule, which serves as a good tuneup before league play. 20 of the first 22 contests are played away from Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium, which should prepare the Cardinal for a gruelling Pac-10 schedule. The Cardinal's four-week road journey begins at The Campbell/Cartier Classic in Poway, CA, from Feb. 15-17. Stanford then travels to Columbus, GA, for the prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic on Feb. 22-24, competes at the Red Desert Classic (Mar. 1-3) and finishes tournament play with an appearance at the Speedline Invitational in Tampa, FL on Mar. 7-10. If last year was any indication, the squad can't wait to hit the road- the Cardinal was a combined 21-2-1 at the same four tournaments in 2001, including undefeated marks at the Red Desert Classic and NFCA Leadoff Classic.
Records Were Made To Be Broken
The 2001 campaign was also a record-setting one for the Card, which finished third in the Pac-10. Three student-athletes were honored as First Team All-Americans: seniors Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson and junior Dana Sorensen- the first time Stanford has had multiple First Team selections in the same season. Head Coach John Rittman was named Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year in his fifth season at the helm. The Cardinal broke 12 team records during the year, setting new marks in categories such as doubles, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and lowest ERA. Last year's club posted a school-best 33 shutouts in 71 games and outscored its opponents 290-104.
2001: A Breakthrough Season
And what a season it was. The 2001 squad recorded the best single-season in Cardinal softball history, finishing with a program-best 54-16-1 overall record and making its first appearance at the Women's College World Series, where they finished 2-2. Stanford closed out the seaosn ranked third in the nation and spent five weeks at No. 3, which represented the highest ranking in school history. The women advanced to Oklahoma City by going 4-1 at the Stanford Regional, the first time an NCAA Regional had been played on The Farm.
Notes From The Dugout
In the early going, Jessica Mendoza leads the squad in the following offensive categories: batting average (.833), hits (5), total bases (6), on-base percentage (.875) and stolen bases (2)...Sarah Beeson is hitting .600 (3-for-5) with a team-high four RBI...Jessica Draemel performed well against Santa Clara, hitting .400 (2-for-5) overall on the day...Robin Walker continues to excel at the leadoff spot, and has scored four runs and tallied five total bases...The Cardinal received production from its freshman class, as the first-year athletes went 2-for-6 combined with two runs scored and one RBI in the season opener...Stanford is hitting .360 as a team (18-for-50) with 12 RBI thus far.
Notes From Around The Bullpen
The Cardinal pitching staff limited Santa Clara to just one run and four hits on the day during Stanford's doubleheader sweep of the Broncos last weekend...Tori Nyberg and Dana Sorensen picked up victories in the twinbill, with Nyberg starting the first game and Sorensen starting the second...Maureen LeCocq recorded three innings of relief work on the day...Sorensen is the early team leader in strikeouts with 5.