No. 3 Softball To Host Baylor Before Competing At Speedline Invitational
March 5, 2002
THIS WEEK IN STANFORD SOFTBALL:
Tues., Mar. 5....vs. Baylor (24-4 overall, 0-0 Big 12)....5 p.m. PST....Stanford, Calif.
2002 SPEEDLINE INVITATIONAL (HOSTED BY SOUTH FLORIDA)
Thu., Mar. 7....vs. Western Michigan (2-5)....Tampa, FL....5 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST
Thu., Mar. 7....vs. Illinois-Chicago (12-5)....Tampa, FL....7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST
Fri., Mar. 8....vs. Hofstra (0-7)....Tampa, FL....4 p.m. EST/1 p.m. PST
Fri., Mar. 8....vs. Georgia Southern (5-13)....Tampa, FL....6 p.m. EST/3 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 9....vs. Penn State (3-8)....Tampa, FL....2 p.m. EST/11 a.m. PST
Sat.-Sun., Mar. 9-10....Tournament Play Begins....Tampa, FL....TBA
The Cardinal softball squad may as well not unpack its bags after returning from the Red Desert Classic late Sunday evening. Before embarking on its final preseason tournament destination (Tampa, Fla.) early Wednesday morning, Stanford will play host to Baylor at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Cardinal finished 5-0 at last weekend's Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, outscoring its opponents 43-7 during the three-day event to improve to 18-2 overall. Following Tuesday's matchup with Baylor, Stanford will compete at the Speedline Invitational in Tampa- the fourth weekend tourney in as many weeks for the Card. Stanford, which has won its last seven contests, is slated to face the following schools when pool play begins Thursday afternoon: Western Michigan, Illinois-Chicago, Hofstra, Georgia Southern and Penn State. Bracket play commences Saturday afternoon.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford softball dropped one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 in the latest USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll, as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. After achieving the highest ranking in program history in the last poll (No.2), Stanford finished 4-2 at last weekend's NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Cardinal will battle 11 teams 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 ULCA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 California, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 10 Pacific.
Scouting the Bears
Baylor (24-4) is coming off a 1-0 win against Illinois on Sunday at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn.- where the Bears were 1-2 over the weekend. Stanford and Baylor will be matching up for the first time in series history, with Tuesday's contest also being the first game played under the lights at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium. Like the Cardinal, the Bears are 8-2 in their last 10 games. At 24-4, Baylor is off to the best 28-game start in the program's history and opened the season by winning its first seven games. The Bears were receiving votes (17) in the last USA Today/NFCA Top-25 poll. Senior Kristen Lancaster (.313, 4 home runs, 13 RBI), sophomore Danelle Arnold (.364, 24 hits, 3 home runs, 15 RBI) and junior Sarah Caudle (.358, 29 hits, 16 RBI, 41 total bases) are the top hitting threats for Baylor, while freshman Cristin Vitek (9-2, 0.72 ERA) is currently working on a 36.2 consecutive scoreless innings streak.
A Look at the Field..........2002 SPEEDLINE INVITATIONAL
The final preseason tournament for the Cardinal features a trip to Florida, where Stanford will compete at the Speedline Invitational in Tampa beginning Thursday morning. Stanford finished 7-1 at the tournament last season, including six shutout victories. The tournament, hosted by the University of South Florida, follows a pool play format and breaks into tournament play on Saturday afternoon. First up for the Cardinal will be Western Michigan (2-5), which suffered two losses (4-2 to Michigan State and 11-2 to Pittsburgh) on Monday afternoon before its weekend trek to Tampa. Illinois Chicago (12-5) will be Stanford's opponent in the nightcap on Thursday, and the Flames might be thrilled just to get the chance to play. UIC was crowned co-tournament champions with Tulsa after the Holiday Inn-Select Festival championship match was cancelled after over eight inches of snow fell on the area. Hofstra (0-7), which Stanford blanked 4-0 in last season's NCAA Regional, will be looking for its first win of the year when it faces the Cardinal on Friday afternoon. Georgia Southern (5-13) is hitting just .182 as a team on the year and will be looking to break out of its offensive slump. The final scheduled opponent, Penn State (3-8), has dropped its last five games including Monday's 3-2 loss to Central Michigan.
The Rittman File
John Rittman is currently in 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 228-102-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.
Cardinal Take Care of Business In St. George
Stanford went undefeated in five games last weekend at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah, to finish with a 5-0 overall mark. The Cardinal were crowned 2002 champions and are now 14-0 in program history at the tournament.
STANFORD 8, UNLV 0 (6 innings):
The Cardinal used a four-run third inning to break open the contest and defeat the Lady Rebels 8-0 in six frames. Kira Ching homered twice and drove in three runs, while Tori Nyberg cruised to her ninth win of the season and struck out 10.
STANFORD 5, EASTERN KENTUCKY 3:
Sarah Beeson's three-run blast in the third inning gave Stanford a 3-0 lead, but the Colonels answered back with three runs in the fourth. However, Beeson's RBI single one inning later put the Cardinal ahead for good as Stanford hung on for a 5-3 win.
STANFORD 16, SOUTHERN UTAH 1:
The Cardinal recorded season-highs in runs (16), hits (16) and home runs (3) in a 16- 1 rout of the Thunderbirds. Jessica Allister paced the Card going 3-5 with five RBI, as the Nos. 1-5 Stanford hitters went a combined 15-25 with 14 runs and 12 RBI.
STANFORD 10, UC SANTA BARBARA 3:
Kira Ching and Cassi Branghamchipped in with three hits apiece as the Cardinal scored in every inning with the exception of the second en route to a 10-3 win over the Gauchos. Stanford tallied eight extra-base hits in its 17th victory of 2002.
STANFORD 4, UTAH 2:
A three-run first inning along with a Jessica Mendoza RBI double in the fourth gave Stanford a 4-0 advantage until the bottomof the seventh, when the Utes rallied for two runs. Tori Nyberg made sure that would be it, improving her record to 11-1.
One of the reasons the Cardinal has been able to get off to such a fast start has been the solid pitching of junior Tori Nyberg. Nyberg is now 11-1 overall on the season, and has allowed just 40 hits in 76.2 innings pitched for a 0.64 ERA. In addition, she has walked just 19 while striking out 76 and limiting the opposition to a .150 average. The junior hurler was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 19-24 for her efforts, and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the NFCA Leadoff Classic earlier this season. Nyberg has also notched nine complete games and four shutouts in 2002.
Close To The Mark
This year's club is doing its best to make sure it starts the 2002 season much like that of last year. Through 20 games, the Cardinal find themselves at 18-2 overall with both losses (3-1 to Massachusetts and 2-0 to Nebraska) coming on the same day at theNFCA Leadoff Classic. Last year's squad was 19-1-1 through the same stretch, with the only loss a 2-1 decision to Cal State Northridge at the Campbell/Cartier Classic.
It Starts At The Top
Stanford received tremendous production from its Nos. 1-5 hitters (Robin Walker, Jessica Mendoza, Sarah Beeson, Kira Ching and Jessica Allister) last weekend at the Red Desert Classic. Overall, the group hit .444 (44-99) with 32 runs scored, 30 RBI and five home runs.
Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters in the early going, leading the club in batting average (.467), hits (28), RBI (20), and slugging percentage (.683) and on-base percentage (.556). She has started all 20 games at first base and has hit two home runs.
What Else Is New?
Three-time First Team All-American senior Jessica Mendoza has started all 20 games so far and is hitting .403 (27-67) with 22 runs scored, 16 RBI and 10 steals. Mendoza was equally tough at the dish in 2001, leading the Cardinal with a .405 average in 71 games started as well as the following categories: runs (70), hits (83), home runs (14), total bases (151), slugging percentage (.737), on-base percentage (.504) and stolen bases (31).
Notes From The Dugout
The 16 runs against Southern Utah on Mar. 2 were the most since a 16-0 five-inning shutout of Utah State in the second game of a doubleheader on April 1, 1999...Stanford's batting average climbed from .253 to .288 after last weekend's performance at the Red Desert Classic. The Cardinal batted .379 (58-153) at the event and scored eight or more runs in three of the five games... Seven Cardinal hitters are batting .325 or better with runners in scoring position...Kira Ching is hitting .429 with the bases empty and .308 with runners on base...Sarah Beeson, currently on a five-game hit streak, has posted the longest of the 2002 season with nine...The Cardinal has outscored its opposition 118-31 this season and has outhit its foes by a .288-.188 clip....How important is it to get on the board first?- the Cardinal has outscored its opponents 18-2 in the first inning so far in 2002.
Notes From Around The Bullpen
The Cardinal pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.24...Opponents are hitting just .188 thus far...Maureen LeCocq has been a dependable arm for the Card this season, and is 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 50.2 inning pitched. LeCocq went 2-0 last week at the Red Desert Classic, picking up wins over Southern Utah and Eastern Kentucky.