No. 8 Softball Readies For Final Week Of Regular Season

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May 6, 2002

Wed., May 8- San Jose State (23-42, 7-15 WAC)- 2 p.m. (DH)- San Jose, CA
Fri., May 10- No. 16 Oregon State (38-20, 7-11 Pac-10)- 7 p.m- Stanford, CA
Sat., May 11-Oregon (23-28, 1-17 Pac-10)- 1 p.m. (DH)- Stanford, CA

Cardinal Update
No. 8 Stanford (40-16, 5-13 Pac-10), which is now 5-5 in its last 10 games, will begin the final weekend of its regular season with a non-conference doubleheader at San Jose State on Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Cardinal will then conclude Pac-10 competition at Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium with a single game against No. 16 Oregon State on Friday at 7 p.m., and a twinbill versus Oregon on Saturday at 1 p.m. Following its matchup with the Ducks, Stanford will learn its postseason status on Sunday, May 12, at 6 p.m. when the NCAA announces this year's 48-team field. The Cardinal will be hoping for a strong finish, as the teamhas dropped 11 of its last 12 conference games.

NCAA Selection Show
The 48-team field for the 2002 NCAA Division I Softball Championship will be announced on a selection show at 6:00 p.m. (PDT) on Sunday, May 12. The softball selection show will appear on ESPNEWS, which is on DirecTV channel 207 and Dish Network channel 142. Stanford will be looking to receive an at-large bid into this season's postseason tournament. The Cardinal, which hosted one of eight NCAA regionals last year for the first time in program history, made its first-ever appearance at the Women's College World Series. Stanford has earned an NCAA postseason berth each of the last four years.

Stanford in the National Rankings
Stanford dropped to No. 8 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. 7 last week, but fell one spot after finishing just 2-3 in five games. The No. 8 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 15-13 against opponents ranked in the top-25, and faces No. 4 Arizona State and No. 2 Arizona this weekend. Currently, the top-10 schools in the nation are as follows: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Arizona, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 California, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Cal State Fullerton and No. 10 Florida Atlantic.

Scouting the Spartans
San Jose State (23-42, 7-15 WAC), the Cardinal's first obstacle of the final week of the regular season, enters Wednesday's non-conference doubleheader having lost three of its last four games. The Spartans are hitting just .228 on the year, with only three athletes batting above the .250 mark. Becca Baldridge (.314, 61 H, 20 R, 7 2B) and Veronica Ramos (.298, 51 H, 14 2B, 28 RBI) are the top hitting threats in the Spartan lineup. San Jose State has not scored more than five runs in a single game in its last 12 contests. The pitching staff, sporting a combined ERA of 2.93, is led by Carol Forbes (15-21, 2.63 ERA, 16 CG, 237 IP) and Brianne Ferguson (7-18, 3.12 ERA, 157 IP). The Cardinal and Spartans have split victories in their 18 meetings, with Stanford sweeping a twinbill from its geographical rivals on Feb. 11 of last season (8-0, 7-2). San Jose State is led by head coach Dee Dee Enabenter-Omidiji, in her second season.

Scouting the Beavers
No. 16 Oregon State (38-20, 7-11 Pac-10) will visit The Farm for a single game against the Cardinal on Friday at 7 p.m. The Beavers, 6-4 in their last 10 games, will be looking to fend off the Cardinal as the club tries to remain in sole possession of sixth place in the conference. Stanford picked up two wins agaisnt OSU in Corvallis earlier this season, collecting 7-0 and 7-2 victories in the process. Oregon State's top offensive threats are Brynnen Guthrie (.337, 60 H, 25 R, 25 RBI) and Clare Burnum (.329, 57 H, 30 R, 87 TB). The pitching staff includes a trio of capable hurlers: Monica Hoffman (13-8, 1.26 ERA, 134 K's in 117 IP), Crystal Draper (13-6, 1.84 ERA, 190 K's in 152 IP) and Kristen Hunter (12-6, 2.32 ERA, 9 CG, 105 K's in 120.2 IP). The Beavers are guided by eighth-year head coach Kirk Walker.

Scouting the Ducks
Stanford will close out its regular season with a doubleheader against Oregon (23-28. 1-17 Pac-10) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Ducks are scheduled to meet California on Friday at 2 p.m. before squaring off against the Card. Oregon was swept by UCLA and Washington last weekend and is 3-7 overall in its last 10 games. The Ducks are led at the plate by Alyssa Laux (.329, 47 H, 14 RBI, 61 TB) and Andrea Vidlund (.319, 46 H, 23 R, 8 HR, 37 RBI). The pitching staff centers around Anissa Meashintubby (9-5, 2.42 ERA, 95.1 IP, 88 K's) and Lindsey Kontra (6-12, 3.15 ERA, 9 CG, 111 IP). Stanford claimed a 4-3 victory over Oregon in Eugene on Apr. 5, as the Cardinal rallied for two runs in the top of the sixth en route to the win. First-year head coach Brent Rincon will be looking to close out Pac-10 competition with a sweep.

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, the 2001 Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year, picked up his 250th career victory in Stanford's 9-1 win over Arizona State on May 3 and has accumulated a 250-114-1 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 Breaks Through Against Sun Devils, Falls To 'Cats
STANFORD 9, ARIZONA STATE 1 (MAY 3, 2002): Stanford snapped a nine-game conference losing streak Friday night in Tempe, as its offense exploded for four runs in the first inning en route to an 9-1, six-inning victory over No. 4 Arizona State. Kira Ching went 4-4 with four RBI and Jessica Allister added a three-run homer. Robin Walker and Jessica Mendoza singled to open the game, and Sarah Beeson and Kira Ching followed with RBI doubles in the first inning. Ching's one-out RBI single in the top of the third gave the Card a 5-0 edge, as Mendoza came around to score after reaching base safely with a walk. The Sun Devils, who committed three errors, scraped back a run in the fourth, but the Cardinal was able to widen the gap in the fifth on Allister's homer and in the sixth on Ching's RBI single. Tori Nyberg picked up the win in the circle, working three shutout innings.
ARIZONA 3, STANFORD 2 (MAY 4, 2002): The Cardinal was upended 3-2 by No. 2 Arizona on Saturday night in Tucson, as the Wildcats struck for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull out the victory in front of 2,739 fans. The Cardinal jumped out to 2-0 lead in the top of the first and was in command until the Wildcats came alive in the final frame. Stanford got on the board in the top of the first when Sarah Beeson hit her fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot to left-center field, to score Robin Walker. Both teams would have several opportunities to break through in the middle innings, but to no avail. However, Arizona's offense would come alive in the bottom of the seventh, as the Wildcats came up with three runs to capture the victory. Leneah Manuma and Mackenzie Vandergeest slammed back-to-back home runs and Lovienanne Jung's RBI double capped the 3-2 comeback-win.
ARIZONA 6, STANFORD 1 (MAY 5 , 2002): The Cardinal dropped a 6-1 decision to Arizona on Sunday afternoon in Tempe, as Wildcat hurler Jennie Finch held the Cardinal to just two hits in front of 2,577 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona's Jenny Gladding, Mackenzie Vandergeest and Jackie Coburn all hit home runs in the victory. Wildcat starter Jennie Finch was dominant in the circle for the first four innings, retiring the first 12 Cardinal hitters in order. Kira Ching broke up Finch's no-hit bid in the fifth inning with a leadoff single. Jessica Mendoza's single in the top of the seventh was the only other hit for the Cardinal on the afternoon. Mendoza came around to score Stanford's only run of the game on a wild pitch by Finch with two outs in the final frame.

Pac-10 Taking Shape
With just one week remaining in conference play, Stanford finds itself in seventh place in the Pac-10 standings after dropping 11 of its last 12 conference matchups. UCLA and Arizona lead the pack, with both schools sitting at 15-3 and set to battle for the conference crown this weekend. Arizona State and Washington are both 10-8 and lead fifth-place California at 9-9 by one game in the race for third. Oregon State checks in at sixth place with a 7-11 mark, two games ahead of the Cardinal at 5-13. Stanford already has defeated the Beavers twice this year, and a sweep this weekend combined with one OSU loss will give the Cardinal sole possession of fifth place. Oregon rounds out the group with a 1-17 league mark in eighth place.

Winning Combination
While Stanford's Nos. 1-5 hitters haven't changed much over the course of the year (1-Robin Walker, 2-Jessica Mendoza, 3-Sarah Beeson, 4-Kira Ching, 5-Jessica Allister), the bottom four spots of the order have been shuffled around. One combination that seems to be working is as follows, with the team's record in parantheses when the listed athlete hits in that spot: 6- Maureen LeCocq (17-2), 7- Cassi Brangham (17-1), 8- Leah Nelson (20-9) and 9- Jessica Draemel (20-9). Five different players have batted in the Nos. 6 and 7 spots, while six athletes have held down Nos. 8 and 9 this season.

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 55 of 56 games, and is hitting .387. She leads the club in runs (60), hits (63), doubles (17), triples (3), home runs (13), total bases (125), slugging percentage (.767), on base percentage (.495) and stolen bases (26). 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 more solid hitters this season. Beeson is leading the club with 44 RBI, and is second on the team in the following categories- batting average (.379), hits (58) and on base percentage (.487)- and is third in slugging percentage (.549). Beeson has started 54 of 56 games at first base and has hit five 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
*The Cardinal hasn't scored 10 runs in a game since an 11-2 victory over Hofstra on Mar. 8 at the Speedline Invitational
*Kira Ching has reached base safely in six of the last seven games and is hitting .500 (11-22) with six runs, 11 RBI and two home runs during that stretch
*Stanford's 10 hits in a 9-1 win over Arizona State on Friday matched the club's total for most hits in a conference game this season (Apr. 5 vs. Oregon, Apr. 6 vs. Oregon State)
*Jessica Mendoza currently holds the longest hitting streak of the season at 11 games
*Robin Walker's .283 average with two outs is tops among starters
*Stanford has not had more than one sacrifice hit in a game all season
*Maureen LeCocq has been a valuable asset to the Cardinal lineup this season, having played at six different positions (pitcher, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, designated player)
*Outfielder Cassi Brangham has not committed an error in 56 games this season
*Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .036 with the bases empty and .412 with runners on base.

Notes From The Bullpen
*Tori Nyberg has yet to throw a wild pitch in 211.1 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)
*Cardinal starters Tori Nyberg and Maureen LeCocq have been effective this season, both in different ways. Nyberg has recorded 565 outs (262 ground-ball, 128 fly-ball, 175 strikeout), while LeCocq has registered 364 outs (156 ground-ball, 157 fly-ball, 51 strikeout)

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