No. 2 Softball Plays Host To BYU On Saturday

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March 20, 2002

This Week In Stanford Softball:
Sat., Mar. 23...vs. BYU (18-10 overall, 2-0 MWC)...12 p.m. (DH)...Stanford, CA

Cardinal Update
If it was possible, the Cardinal softball squad would throw the date of Feb. 23 out of its regular season schedule. With the execption of a 3-1 loss to Massachusetts and a 2-0 defeat to Nebraska on that Saturday at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., No. 2 Stanford would be undefeated at 26-0. Entering this weekend's doubleheader against BYU, the Cardinal is 26-2 overall and has won 15 consecutive games. Stanford will aim to keep that impressive winning streak going when it squares off against the Cougars in a doubleheader at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium beginning at 12 p.m. The Card has been idle since it blanked Florida Atlantic 4-0 on Mar. 10 to capture the 2002 Speedline Invitational Championship in Plant City, Fla.

Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford jumped past Arizona to the No. 2 spot in the latest USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll, as voted by 27 Division 1 softball coaches representing all areas around the country. The Cardinal held down the No. 2 spot for one week earlier this season, representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 10-2 thus far against opponents ranked in the top-25, and will begin Pac-10 competition next weekend at California. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Arizona, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, No. 8 California, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Fresno State.

Scouting the Cougars
BYU (18-10) comes into Saturday afternoon's doubleheader on a six-game winning streak. In its most recent action, the Cougars swept a twinbill from Southern Utah (4-3 in game one and 10-2 in game two) in their home opener last weekend. Against the Thunderbirds in the first game, BYU withstood a one-hour delay due to a spring snow stormto rally back for a 4-3 victory. All-American Oli Keohohou's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh- her team-leading 13th of the season- proved to be the game winner. BYU came out aggressive in the nightcap and scored in every inning to win 10-2 in five innings due to the eight-run rule. Senior Kari Pringle went went 2-2 with two RBI and a walk, while senior Liz VanderLinden hit two triples and notched three RBI. Keohohou (.462, 35 runs, 28 RBI) and Brooke Cadiente (.380, nine HR, 30 RBI) are the top offensive threats for the Cougars, while Cynthia Fallowfield anchors the pitching rotation (10-4, 4.03 ERA, 87 IP, 46 K). BYU is slated to face Saint Mary's at Moraga on Friday before squaring off against the Cardinal.

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 236-102-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.

Speedline Invitational Champs
The Cardinal concluded its tournament schedule by capturing the 2002 Speedline Invitational championship two weeks ago in Plant City, Fla. Stanford blanked Florida Atlantic 4-0 in the title game on the final day of competition to claim the hardware. The Cardinal went 7-0 over the weekend outscored its opponents 48-7.
The Cardinal jumped out quickly, scoring nine runs in the top of the first inning en route to the eight-run rule win. Jessica Draemel chipped in with three extra-base hits and four RBI, while Meghan Sickler was 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.
Despite managing only two hits, Stanford hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Flames. Jessica Mendoza scored both Cardinal runs, and Sarah Beeson's RBI single in the sixth inning proved to be the game-winner. Tori Nyberg fanned seven in seven IP.
STANFORD 11, HOFSTRA 2 (3-8-02):
Stanford scored in every inning but the third and totaled 10 hits in the 11-2 win. Sarah Beeson (3-4, 2 RBI) and LeahNelson (2-2, 2 RBI) homered in the victory, as Tori Nyberg limited the Pride to six hits while striking out seven in six innings of work.
The Nos. 1-4 hitters of the Cardinal lineup proved to be the difference against the Eagles, as the top of the order went a combined 8-15 with four runs scored and six RBI. Robin Walker, Jessica Mendoza, and Kira Ching all homered in the win.
STANFORD 4, PENN STATE 2 (3-9-02):
Jessica Allister homered twice against the Lady Lions as the Cardinal posted a 4-2 win. Allister had two of Stanford's three hits, with a three-run homer in the first proving to be the game-winner. Maureen LeCocq fanned eight in her sixth CG win.
Sarah Beeson was 3-3 and Elizabeth Bendig chipped in with two hits and two RBI en route to a semifinal win over the Bulldogs. Stanford received at least one hit from all nine starters and Tori Nyberg struck out eight over seven innings for her 15th win.
Jessica Mendoza homered twice and drove in three runs to pace the Cardinal, which captured the tournament championship. Mendoza homered in the first and third innings and Maureen LeCocq added an RBI single to round out the scoring.

Four Cardinal Athletes Named To All-Tournament Team
Stanford's Jessica Mendoza was named the 2002 Speedline Invitational Most Valuable Player, while Tori Nyberg was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Mendoza batted 9-19 (.474) in six starts over the weekend, along with four home runs, 10 runs scored and six RBI. Nyberg was undefeated in five starts and allowed just four earned runs and 24 hits in 32 IP (1.12 ERA) while striking out 29. Kira Ching and Sarah Beeson were also selected to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts.

She's At It Again
After one month of tearing apart opposing pitching, Jessica Mendoza has finally been recognized on the national scene. The three-time First Team All-American was named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week for games played between Mar. 4-10, in addition to her Pac-10 Player of the Week honor over the same time frame. Mendoza had one of her better weeks of the year, as she hit 9-19 (.474) at the Speedline Invitational with four homers, 10 runs scored and six RBI. Earlier in the week against Baylor, she went 1-3 at the dish with a triple and an RBI. Overall, the senior centerfielder has started 27 of the first 28 games, and is hitting (.419). She leads the club in runs (32), home runs (7), total bases (70) and stolen bases (12).

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 16-1 overall on the season, and has allowed just 64 hits in 109.2 innings pitched for a 0.70 ERA. In addition, she has walked just 26 while striking out 105 and limiting the opposition to a .165 average. The junior hurler was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 19-24 for her efforts, and was named Most Valuable Pitcher at the Speedline Invitational. She also made the All-Tournament Team at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Nyberg has notched 13 complete games and six shutouts in 2002.

Tour of Duty Complete
After spending its last four weeks on the road playing in four different tournaments, the Cardinal will begin the second half of its season on Saturday. Stanford finished finished 20-2 overall in its 22 tournament contests over the past month, which included appearances at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, NFCA Leadoff Classic, Red Desert Classic and Speedline Invitational. The Cardinal was crowned tourney champs in each except the NFCA Leadoff Classic, where it defeated Fresno State 1-0 in the consolation final.

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 (.465), hits (40), RBI (26) and on-base percentage (.540). She has started all 28 games at first base and has hit eight doubles and three home runs.

Freshman Fever
Stanford's four first-year members are all contributing in one way or another so far. Elizabeth Bendig has started 15 of 25 games, playing primarily at third base, and is leading the group with a (10-41) .244 average and has driven in six runs. She has also thrown two scoreless innings of relief in the early going. Meghan Sickler is batting (8-38) .211, with 10 runs scored and six RBI. Sickler has started nine of the 23 games she has played in, with occasional starts in the outfield. Leah Nelson, used both at third base and catcher, has played in 22 contests and is hitting at a (8-46) .174 clip with one home run and eight RBI. Heather Shook, who gives the Cardinal a unique look in the lineup as a slapper and is one of the team's best pinch runners, is hitting (2-14) .143 with two runs scored. Shook has also seen some time in the outfield and has competed in 18 of the first 28 games for the Card.

Notes From The Dugout
Prior to its contest against Mississippi State on Mar. 9, the Cardinal had scored at least one run in the first inning in its previous nine games...The five runs scored by UC Riverside in Stanford's 13-5 victory over the Highlanders on Feb. 14 is the most the team has given up all year. Since that game, the Cardinal have not allowed more than three runs in a single game...The Cardinal has outscored its opposition 171-40 this season and has outhit its foes by a .301-.193 clip....Stanford's .301 team average is fifth best in the Pac-10...Jessica Allister has been impressive offensively (.272-5-23), as well as defensively (12-23 caught stealing).

Notes From Around The Bullpen
The Cardinal pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.15, fourth best in the Pac-10...Opponents are hitting just .193...Maureen LeCocq has been a dependable arm for the Card this season, and is 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 70.2 inning pitched and six shutouts...The staff has combined for 19 complete games and seven shutouts...The team's six wild pitches are third fewest among conference teams, while the 16 hit batters are second highest.

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