No. 7 Cardinal Hosts No. 8 Washington, No. 1 UCLA This Weekend
April 25, 2002
THIS WEEKEND'S ACTION:
Fri., Apr. 26- No. 8 Washington (37-14, 6-6 Pac-10)-7 p.m...Stanford, CA
*****Televised by Silicon Valley Community Communications*****
Sat., Apr. 27- No. 1 UCLA (41-6, 9-3 Pac-10)- 7 p.m...Stanford, CA
Sun., Apr. 28- No. 1 UCLA (41-6, 9-3 Pac-10) -1 p.m...Stanford, CA
Stanford (37-11, 4-8 Pac-10) snapped its three-game losing streak on Tuesday, sweeping a non-conference doubleheader from Sacramento State. The Cardinal blanked the Hornets 3-0 in the opener, and followed that with a 7-1 victory in game two. Stanford, which entered Tuesday's twinbill against Sacramento State having lost six of its last eight, picked up two important wins heading into this weekend's Pac-10 slate. The 10-game homestand continues Friday, when Stanford hosts No. 8 Washington at 7 p.m. After its game with the Huskies, the Cardinal squares off against No. 1 UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday at 1 p.m. After this weekend, just 10 regular season contests (six of which are Pac-10 bouts) remain on the 2002 schedule.
Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford dropped to No. 7 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 checked in at No. 3 last week, but fell four spots after finishing just 2-3 in five games. The No. 7 ranking is the lowest for Stanford this year, while the Cardinal has been tabbed as high as No. 2- representing the highest ranking in program history. Stanford is 15-10 against opponents ranked in the top-25, and faces No. 1 UCLA and No. 8 Washington this weekend. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 6 California, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Cal State Fullerton and No. 10 Florida Atlantic.
Scouting the Huskies
No. 8 Washington (37-14, 6-6 Pac-10) owns two victories against Stanford already this season, besting the Cardinal 11-3 and 3-0 in Seattle just two weeks ago. Stanford will look to salvage the final game between the two schools when the clubs hook up on Friday at 7 p.m. The Huskies were riding a five-game winning streak, in which they had outscored their opponents 24-4, before dropping a 5-3 decision to UCLA in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. Washington's lineup features two prominent offensive threats: All-American Jamie Clark (.441, 67 H, 49 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI) and Kristen Rivera (.368, 51 H, 15 HR, 54 RBI). Rita Roach and Becky Simpson have at least 50 hits apiece, and the Huskies have four players with at least 15 stolen bases. Anchoring the pitching staff are starters Ashley Boek (15-2, 1.06 ERA, 114 K's in 118.2 IP) and Tia Bollinger (16-7, 1.16 ERA, 141 K's in 138.1 IP). The Huskies are guided by head coach Teresa Wilson and have won 22 of 29 in the all-time series between the two schools.
Scouting the Bruins
Stanford will conclude its weekend with two contests against No. 1 UCLA (41-6, 9-3 Pac-10). The Bruins, who have picked up eight consecutive victories, recorded a 5-3 win against Washington at home on Wednesday. UCLA will travel to Berkeley for a single game against California on Friday before its Saturday tilt with the Cardinal. The Pac-10's leading squad has been hitting the ball well this season, as UCLA boasts a .350 batting average and 10 athletes have totaled 25 hits to date. Stacey Nuveman (.542, 64 H, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 122 TB) paces the lineup, along with Natasha Watley (.503, 85 H, 51 R, 11 2B, 31 SB) and Tairia Sims (.343, 46 H, 23 R, 7 HR, 36 RBI). The arms corps has been equally brilliant, with starters Keira Goerl (21-4, 0.49 ERA, 14 SHO, 202 K's in 157 IP) and Amanda Freed (17-2, 0.81, 134 K's in 130 IP) leading the way. The staff has an overall ERA of 0.66 and has notched 25 shutouts so far. UCLA is directed by 14-year head coach Sue Enquist, and the Bruins are 22-6 all-time versus Stanford.
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 247-111-1 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 Quiets The Hornets
Stanford snapped its three-game losing streak Tuesday, sweeping a non-conference twinbill from Sacramento State at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal took the opener 3-0, and posted a 7-1 win in game two.
STANFORD 3, SACRAMENTO STATE 0 (GAME ONE): After both teams traded zeroes on the scoreboard through the first four innings, Stanford would eventually break through in the bottom of the fifth inning, tallying three runs against the Hornets to break a 21-inning scoring drought. Sophomore Jessica Allister was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, and then lifted for pinch runner Meghan Sickler. Jessica Draemel followed with an infield hit and Stanford would load the bases after Maureen LeCocq singled to right. Sickler then came home to score the first run of the game on freshman Leah Nelson's sacrifice fly, giving Stanford a 1-0 edge. After Jessica Mendoza walked to load the bases again, senior Sarah Beeson drove home Draemel and LeCocq with a single to right center for a 3-0 lead. Tori Nyberg (21-6) did the rest in the circle, limiting the Hornets to four hits in six shutout innings with four strikeouts.
STANFORD 7, SACRAMENTO STATE 1 (GAME TWO): Stanford raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Jessica Mendoza, who had gone hitless in her last three games, blasted a two-run home run to centerfield to score Robin Walker, who led off the frame with a single. Sacramento State notched a single run in the top of the second on an RBI single, but the Cardinal responded with two runs later in the third. With one out, Walker came around to score the third run of the contest on Mendoza's RBI double. Stanford went up 4-1 when Sarah Beeson delivered an RBI single down the left field line to score Mendoza from second. The Cardinal tacked on three additional runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, highlighted by Jessica Allister's two-run single. Robin Walker led off with a single and came around to score when Kira Ching reached on an error. One out later, Allister lined a single into right to plate Beeson and Ching for a 7-1 advantage. Maureen LeCocq (15-5) worked five innings and limited Sac State to three hits with six strikeouts.
When Leah Nelson's sacrifice fly plated Meghan Sickler for a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning of Stanford's 3-0 win against Sacaramento State in game one, it snapped a 21-inning scoring drought. The Cardinal had been held scoreless in its previous two games (4-0 and 1-0 losses to Arizona State). Stanford had not been blanked in back-to-back contests since UCLA shutout the Cardinal 8-0 and 2-0 in Los Angeles last season (Apr. 28, 29).
Following its doubleheader sweep of UC Santa Barbara last week, the Cardinal were rudely reminded just how tough Pac-10 conference play can be. Stanford dropped its next three games (2-1 to No. 1 Arizona and 4-0 and 1-0 to No. 6 Arizona State), extending its conference losing streak to six. Of those six losses, three have been of the one-run variety. With just nine conference matchups remaining (six at home), it will be important to gain some ground this weekend. Stanford suffered through a similiar stretch late last year, when it dropped seven consecutive conference games in a two-week span. Among the culprits: UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State.
Zeroes On The Board
12 of Stanford's 37 triumps 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 26 opponents through its first 48 games of the year.
The squad simply must develop the ability to rally when down late in the game. Stanford sits at just 1-7 when the opponent has the lead entering the final inning. The Cardinal faced such opportunities last weekend, leaving the bases loaded in the seventh in a 4-0 loss to Arizona State and stranding a runner on second with one out in a 2-1 defeat to Arizona. When the Cardinal scored seven runs in the top of the seventh for a 7-2 victory against Oregon State on Apr. 7, it represented the first time in 2002 that the team had notched a comeback win. And it was 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.
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 47 of 48 games, and is hitting .408. She leads the club in runs (51), hits (58), doubles (15), tripes (3), home runs (13), total bases (118), slugging percentage (.831), on base percentage (.506) and stolen bases (22). She was named Co-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. She is currently the all-time Stanford leader in several offensive records: batting average, hits, doubles, triples, homeruns, runs scored and stolen bases.
Beeson Paces The Card
Senior Sarah Beeson has been one of Stanford's hottest hitters so far. Beeson is leading the club with 41 RBI, and is second on the team in the following categories: batting average (.393), hits (55), on base percentage (.491) and slugging percentage (.550). Beeson has started all 48 games at first base and has hit four home runs. She was recently invited to participate in USA Softball team camp, May 30-June 3 to compete for a spot to represent the U.S. this summer in international competition.
Notes From The Dugout
Stanford head coach John Rittman need just three victories to reach the 250-plateau for his career...Robin Walker has 14 doubles so far this year, twice as many as last season's total of seven...Jessica Mendoza currently holds the longest hitting streak of the season at 11 games. Mendoza, who had gone hitless in her last three games, ended that streak with a a two-run homerun in Stanford's 7-1 win over Sacramento State in game two on Tuesday. She also leads the team with 10 multi-RBI games...Maureen LeCocq has been a valuable asset to the Cardinal lineup this season, having played at five different positions (pitcher, second base, third base, outfield, designated player)...Outfielder Cassi Brangham has not committed an error in 48 games this season...Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .038 with the bases empty and .367 with runners on base...Jessica Mendoza is second on the club with 38 RBI, but is hitting only .167 with the bases loaded...Stanford hit .271 in the two games against Sacramento State after batting at a .121 (9-74) clip in three losses to the Arizona schools last weekend.
Notes From The Bullpen
Tori Nyberg, who picked up her 21st win against Sacramento State in the first game of a twinbill on Tuesday, improved her career win total to 33. Additionally, she has not thrown a wild pitch in 183.2 innings this season...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)...Freshman Elizabeth Bendig picked up her second save of the season Tuesday in the 3-0 win against Sacramento State...Tori Nyberg's 161 strikeouts this season ranks fifth for a season in the Cardinal record books...Maureen LeCocq's 174 career strikeouts ranks fourth at Stanford, while her 373.2 career IP also ranks fourth all-time.