No. 3 Softball Faces No. 1 UCLA, No. 10 Washington This Weekend
April 9, 2002
Facing a rough stretch of four nationally-ranked opponents in five games last week, No. 3 Stanford (33-5, 4-2 Pac-10) was able to stand its ground and finish with a 5-0 mark. The Cardinal posted back-to-back shutouts against No. 11 Fresno State (5-0 in game one, 1-0 in the nightcap) on Tuesday, and edged Oregon 4-3 on Friday before sweeping No. 14 Oregon State over the weekend (7-0 on Saturday and 7-2 on Sunday). Three additional challenges lie ahead this week, including Stanford's matchup against No. 1 UCLA on Friday in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. The Cardinal will then face off against No. 10 Washington for two contests- Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford checks in at 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. The Cardinal has held down the No. 2 spot twice this season, representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 15-4 thus far against opponents ranked in the top-25, and will face No. 1 UCLA and No. 10 Washington this weekend. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton, No. 8 California, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Florida Atlantic.
Scouting the Bruins
Stanford will open with No. 1 UCLA (34-6, 2-3 Pac-10) this weekend when it takes on the Bruins on Friday at 2 p.m. in Los Angeles. The country's No. 1 squad has struggled somewhat lately, having dropped three of its last four contests after a six-game winning streak. UCLA dropped a 3-2 decision to Arizona State inTempe last Friday, and managed to earn a split with Arizona in its next two games (a 3-2 loss on Saturday and 6-5 victory on Sunday). Leaders for the Bruins at the plate include the following: Stacey Nuveman (.543, 57 H, 11 HR, 42 RBI), Natasha Watley (.521, 75 H, 28 RBI) and Claire Sua (.319, 10 2B, 7 HR, 40 RBI). The pitching staff is one of the nation's finest, as the Bruins have a combined ERA of 0.72. Hurlers Keira Goerl (17-4, 0.59 ERA, 12 SH, 175 K's to 131 IP) and Amanda Freed (15-2, 0.82 ERA, 115 K's in 111 IP) are two of the nation's most dangerous arms. The Cardinal, who dropped three of four to UCLA in 2001, are just 6-21 all-time against the Bruins. UCLA is led by Sue Enquist, who is curently in her 14th season as the Bruin's head coach.
Scouting the Huskies
Following its contest against UCLA, the Cardinal makes its way north to Seattle for two games with No. 10 Washington (32-12, 1-4 Pac-10). The Huskies enter this weekend on a three-game losing streak, following a stretch where the club won seven of eight. The Huskies were victims of close defeats last weekend, falling 1-0 to Arizona in Tucson and 3-2 to Arizona State the next day in Tempe. Washington dropped a 6-1 decision to Arizona State on Sunday for its third straight loss. The Huskies are led by Jaime Clark (.428, 59 H, 14 HR, 57 RBI), Rita Roach (.409, 47 H, 16 RBI, 18 SB) and Kristen Rivera (.375, 48 H, 10 HR, 41 RBI). The Washington pitching staff includes two hurlers with double-digit win totals, Tia Bollinger (14-6, 1.22 ERA, 123 K's in 120.1 IP) and Ashley Boek (12-2, 1.24 ERA, 94 K's in 102 IP). The Huskies took two out of three from the Cardinal last season, including a 3-2 win at home on Apr. 27. Washington is led by head coach Teresa Wilson, who is in her 10th season at UW.
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. Rittman was awarded the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year honor and currently has accumulated a 243-105-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.
Card Sweeps Through Oregon
Stanford's journey north to Oregon proved successful, with the Cardinal sweeping all three of its contests. The road trip began with a 4-3 victory over Oregon in Eugene and continued with 7-0 and 7-2 victories over No. 14 Oregon State in Corvallis.
STANFORD 4, OREGON 3 (Apr. 5): Stanford managed to squeak out a 4-3 win against the Ducks- who committed four errors- despite stranding ten runners on base. The Cardinal used a two-run sixth inning to take the lead, courtesy of an RBI single and a fourth Oregon error. Cassi Brangham came around to score when Leah Nelson was hit by a throw from Oregon first baseman Andrea Vidlund, and Jessica Draemel's RBI single brought home Maureen LeCocq for the fourth run.
STANFORD 7, OREGON STATE 0 (Apr. 6): Sarah Beeson paced the Cardinal hitting attack, going 2-4 with three RBI at the plate, and Maureen LeCocq pitched 5.2 scoreless innings to improve to 13-2 in the 7-0 shutout. Kira Ching blasted her fifth home run in the contest, which feautred a combined 24 runners left on base.
STANFORD 7, OREGON STATE 2 (Apr. 7): Stanford ambushed the Beavers for seven runs in the top of the seventh inning in its first comeback win of 2002. Robin Walker's three-run double highlighted the scoring and gave the Cardinal the lead, and Jessica Mendoza and Kira Ching chipped in with home runs in the 7-2 triumph.
Card Takes Bite Out of Bulldogs
Tremendous starting pitching efforts by Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq, along with clutch hitting and superb defense, translated into 5-0 and 1-0 non-conference shutouts of No. 11 Fresno State in a doubleheader last week at home.
STANFORD 5, FRESNO STATE 0 (Apr. 3): Tori Nyberg tossed a four-hit shutout in the first game, striking out four while walking just one. Robin Walker, Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson all singled to open the fourth inning, and the Cardinal received back-to-back sacrifice flies from Kira Ching and Jessica Allister and an RBI single from Cassi Brangham to take a 3-0 lead. Mendoza scored on an error and Brangham registered her second RBI single to complete the Stanford scoring.
STANFORD 1, FRESNO STATE 0 (Apr. 3): Maureen LeCocq blanked the Bulldogs in game two, surrendering seven hits while fanning two to pick up the win. The only scoring of the game took place in the third inning, when Jessica Mendoza's double to center brought home Robin Walker, who led off the inning by scorching a single through the infield. Sarah Beeson, Kira Ching and Jessica Allister also recorded hits in the win, as the Cardinal defeated Fresno State for the third time in 2002.
When the Cardinal scored seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-2 victory against Oregon State last weekend, it represented the first time in 2002 that the team had notched a comeback win. Considering that Stanford has been ahead entering the final frame in 32 of the 38 games so far, that's not a terrible statistic. And it's about time- Cardinal fans hadn't seen their team rally when trailing after six innings since the 2000 season. Stanford was 0-14 last season when opponents led in the seventh.
Zeroes On The Board
One-third of Stanford's victories (11 of 33) in 2002 have been of the shutout variety. However, as impressive as that may seem, last season was even better. The Cardinal recorded 33 shutouts in 2001, and had blanked 23 opponents through its first 38 games of the year.
She's At It Again
Three-time First Team All-American Jessica Mendoza continues to pick up where she left off last year. Overall, the senior centerfielder has started 37 of 38 games, and is hitting .436. She leads the club in runs (45), hits (51), home runs (11), total bases (100), slugging percentage (.855) and stolen bases (18). She 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, currently sporting an 11-game hitting streak, was 7-18 with six runs, three RBI and a home run in five games for the Cardinal last week.
Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters so far. Beeson is leading the club with 34 RBI, and is second on the team in the following categories: batting average (.419), hits (49), doubles (10), total bases (71) and on base percentage (.493). Beeson has started all 38 games at first base and has hit four home runs. She was 5-16 at the dish last week with two runs scored and three RBI in five games.
Tori Nyberg is now 19-3 overall on the season, and has allowed 96 hits in 144.2 innings pitched for a 1.26 ERA. In addition, she has walked just 35 while striking out 125 and limiting the opposition to a .185 average. Nyberg, who had gone winless in three starts, picked up two victories last weekend (1-0 vs. Fresno State on Apr. 3 and 7-2 at Oregon State on Apr. 7) to get back on track. 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 17 complete games and seven shutouts in 2002.
Look Out For LeCocq
Junior Maureen LeCocq has been brilliant in the circle lately for Stanford. LeCocq has not allowed a run in her last three starts, a span of 19.2 scoreless innings. She recorded three victories in five starts last week: shutting out Fresno State 1-0 in game two of a doubleheader (Apr. 3), pitching two innings of relief in the Cardinal's 4-3 win at Oregon (Apr. 6) and combined on a 7-0 blanking of Oregon State (Apr. 7). For her efforts, LeCocq was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Apr. 1-7- the second honor of her career. For the season, she is 13-2 with a 1.74 ERA in 104.1 innings of work.
When Stanford visits Seattle this weekend, it will mark a homecoming for several individuals on the Cardinal roster. Prior to arriving at Stanford, head coach John Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington. Cardinal assistant coach Sara Pickering was a former two-time First Team All-American and Pac-10 standout at UW, graduating in 1998 after setting 15 school records with the Huskies. During her first three years in Seattle, Rittman served as assistant coach. Catcher Michelle Thiry, who competed in 53 games last season but has yet to participate this year due to injury, is a native of Renton, Wash., and was a three-time First Team All-Metro selection in high school.
Notes From The Dugout
***Robin Walker is leading the team with 14 doubles so far this year, twice as many as last season's total of seven
***Jessica Mendoza currently has an 11-game hitting streak, the longest this year for any Cardinal player. Mendoza also leads the team with 15 multi-hit games and 10 multi-RBI games
***Outfielder Cassi Brangham has not committed an error in 38 games this season, catcher Jessica Allister is second with a .995 fielding percentage
***Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .040 (1-25) with the bases empty and .360 (9-25) with runners on base
***Jessica Mendoza is second on the club with 32 RBI, but is hitting only .167 with the bases loaded
***Stanford faced a heavy dose of left-handers in its Oregon road trip, and went 10-19 against them. For the season, the Card owns a .289 average against southpaws
***Prior to her three hits last weekend, Jessica Draemel had gone hitless since Mar.9 against Mississippi State (1-18 in a 12-game stretch)
***When Stanford recorded 10 hits against Oregon last Friday, it marked the first time the squad had notched at least 10 hits since Mar. 9 against Mississippi State (14)
Notes From The Bullpen
***Stanford is 23-3 when Tori Nyberg starts
***Tori Nyberg has not thrown a wild pitch in 144.2 innings of work this season
***Cardinal starters Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq have been effective this season, both in different ways. Nyberg has recorded 413 outs (200 ground-ball, 88 fly-ball, 125 strikeout), while LeCocq has registered 300 outs (133 ground-ball, 130 fly-ball, 37 strikeout)
***Both Stanford starters have been awarded the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honor this season, LeCocq (Apr. 1-7) and Nyberg (Feb. 19-24)
***Elizabeth Bendig made her third appearance in the circle last weekend in Stanford's 7-0 win over Oregon State on Apr. 6. Bendig worked 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one
***The Cardinal staff has a combined ERA of 1.41 and is limiting opponents to a .208 batting average. The squad has totaled 26 complete games in 38 games so far.
***Four of Stanford's last seven victories have been of the shutout variety.