No. 3 Softball To Compete At Campbell/Cartier Classic

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Feb. 12, 2002

Thu., Feb. UC Riverside (2-6, 0-0 Big West)...12 p.m. (DH)...Riverside, CA

Fri., Feb. 15...vs. No. 10 Cal State Fullerton (3-4, 0-0 Big West)...6 p.m...Poway, CA
Fri., Feb. 15...vs. Cal State Northridge (5-5, 0-0 Big West)...8:30 p.m...Poway, CA
Sat., Feb. 16...vs. Utah State (0-5, 0-0 Big West)...10:30 a.m...Poway, CA
Sat., Feb. 16...vs. No. 23 San Diego St. (4-5, 0-0 Mountain West)..6 p.m..Poway, CA
Sun., Feb. 17...vs. New Mexico (0-2-1, 0-0 Mountain West)...2:30 p.m...Poway, CA

Cardinal Update
A full slate of softball action awaits the Cardinal this weekend, as Stanford travels south for a doubleheader with UC Riverside before competing in the 2002 Campbell/Cartier Classic. Stanford will square off against the Highlanders on Thursday for a twinbill at 12 p.m., then head off to Poway to participate in the Campbell/Cartier Classic over the weekend. The Cardinal will face five opponents during the three-day event: No. 10 Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, Utah State, No. 23 San Diego State and New Mexico. The tournament, hosted by San Diego State University, will mark the first of four Stanford will compete in over the next four weeks.

Stanford in the National Rankings
The women's softball squad checks in at No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason top-25 poll, 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 nation. Currently the top-10 schools 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 Highlanders
UC Riverside (2-6) enters Thursday afternoon's doubleheader with the Cardinal having dropped its last five contests. After losing its season opener, the Highlanders rebounded to pick up wins over Hawaii and Loyola Marymount for their only victories of the year. UC Riverside was blanked by LMU 1-0 last Sunday. Colby Kelly has started all eight games for UC Riverside and is hitting .286 with a team-high six hits. Jenell Jackson has been the most consistent hurler for the squad in the early going, sporting a 2-2 mark and a 1.42 ERA in 25.1 innings of work. UC Riverside has not scored more than four runs in any game this season.

A Look at the Field..........2002 CAMPBELL/CARTIER CLASSIC
The first of four tournaments for the Cardinal in 2002, this year's Campbell/Cartier Clasic begins Friday morning and runs through the weekend. The tourney is an annual event held in the memory of former Aztec softball players Susanne Campbell and Karin Cartier, who lost their lives during the 1991 season in a car accident. The Cardinal, who are 18-5 all-time at the tournament, won five of six games at the tourney in 2001. This year's field features six nationally-ranked teams, including Stanford's first opponent on Friday evening- No. 10 Cal State Fullerton. The Titans went 2-3 at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, highlighted by a 9-1 rout of Texas on the final day. Stanford's second Friday opponent, Cal State Northridge, is coming off a 2-3 record in its own Tournament of Champions. Saturday's schedule features matchups with Utah State, which has dropped its first five games, and host San Diego State, which went 1-3 at its own Aztec Invitational. The Cardinal will wrap things up against its third Mountain West opponent of the weekend, New Mexico, on Sunday afternoon.

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.

Taming The Tigers
The Cardinal swept its second consecutive doubleheader last Saturday, taking both games from No. 19 Pacific in Stockton to improve to 4-0. Stanford, which defeated Pacific three of the four times the teams met in 2001, topped the Tigers 2-1 in nine innings in the first game and logged an 8-2 victory in the nightcap. Cassi Brangham's RBI double plated Kira Ching for the game-winning run in the ninth inning of the first game, after Pacific had tied it at 1-1 with a two-out score in the bottom of the seventh. Tori Nyberg pitched nine innings for her second win of the year, limiting the Tigers to five hits along with eight strikeouts. In the second game, Maureen LeCocq went 3-4 with two RBI and a homerun to lead the Cardinal to an 8-2 triumph. LeCocq also picked up her first win of the year, allowing seven hits in the contest. Brangham and Robin Walker each collected two hits on the day for Stanford.

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 FirstTeam All Pac-10 selection has started all four games so far and is hitting .500 (6-12) with five runs scored, three RBI and two stolen bases. 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).

One of the reasons the Cardinal has been able to get off to such a fast start has been the solid pitching. The Stanford staff has not allowed more than two runs in any of the first four games and is limiting the opposition ot just 16 hits in 28 innings of work, while posting a combined 0.75 ERA. Junior Tori Nyberg is coming off a spectacular performance against Pacific in which she held the Tigers to five hits and one run in nine innings, while fanning a career-high eight batters to improve to 2-0. Junior Maureen LeCocq followed that up with a complete game victory over the Tigers in the second game, allowing just two runs in seven innngs. Dana Sorensen earned a win against Santa Clara on Feb. 2, holding the Broncos to one hit in five innings while striking out five. Conversely, the Cardinal have had little trouble hitting opposing pitchers. Stanford is hitting .321 (35-109) as a team against its opponents, who have allowed 27 runs in 26 innings of work for a 5.12 combined ERA.

Walking the Walk...
Senior Robin Walker has been a consistent source of offense for the Cardinal to start the year. The shortstop is leading the team in hits (6) and total bases (11), and has scored four runs. The 2001 All Pac-10 Honorable Mention selection helped lead Stanford to an 8-2 win over Pacific last weekend, going 2-4 at the plate with a double and a homerun (the second of her four-year career).

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 this week at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in Poway, CA. 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 a record-setting one for the Card, which recorded the best single-season in Stanford softball history and finished with a program-best 54-16-1 overall record and its first appearance at the Women's College World Series. 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.

Notes From The Dugout
After her hot hitting against Pacific, Maureen LeCocq is batting .556 (5-9) with four runs scored and a homerun...Sarah Beeson and Kira Ching have started all four games and lead the team with four RBI...Freshman Elizabeth Bendig recorded her first collegiate RBI in the second game of last weekend's twinbill at Pacific...Robin Walker continues to excel at the leadoff spot, scoring six runs and tallying 11 total bases...The third inning appears to be the time when the Cardinal's bats get hot- the team has scored 16 runs in the third frame...Stanford is hitting .321 as a team (35-109) with 27 runs scored and 21 RBI so far.

Notes From Around The Bullpen
The Cardinal pitching staff (Tori Nyberg, Maureen LeCocq and Dana Sorensen) has a combined ERA of 0.75, and has allowed just 16 hits and three earned runs in 28 IP...Opponents are hitting just .158 thus far...Nyberg is the early leader in strikeouts with 12, after recording eight in last week's victory over Pacific.

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