Cardinal Host Stanford Invitational This Weekend

Feb. 12, 2003

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Stanford Invitational Time ...
The 14th-ranked Cardinal softball team returns home after going 4-1 at the ASU Fiesta Bowl Tournament last weekend to host their first-ever Stanford Invitational. The four-team tournament field also includes Kentucky, Missouri and Penn State. Pool play will begin on Friday and continue Saturday. The teams will then be seeded and the top seed will face the fourth seed, and the second and third seeds will play the last contest on Saturday. Losers will play Sunday at 10 a.m. and the championship game is set for a 12 p.m. start time. All games will be played at the Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium.

Tournament Schedule ...
Friday, Feb. 14:
11 a.m. --- Penn State vs. Missouri
1:15 p.m. --- Kentucky vs. Missouri
3:30 p.m. --- Stanford vs. Penn State
5:45 p.m. --- Stanford vs. Kentucky

Saturday, Feb. 15:
11 a.m. --- Penn State vs. Kentucky
1:15 p.m. --- Stanford vs. Missouri
3:30 p.m. -- Game #1: No. 1 vs. No. 4
5:45 p.m. --- Game #2: No. 2 vs. No. 3

Sunday, Feb. 16:
10 a.m. --- Game #1 Loser vs. Game #2 Loser (3rd place game)
12 p.m. --- Game #1 Winner vs. Game #2 Winner (1st place game)

Scouting The Opponents ...
Kentucky holds a 1-4 record after competing in Florida International's Fun & Sun Classic. The Wildcats defeated the host school 3-2, but fell twice to Illinois State and Georgia. Rachel Friberg leads Kentucky offensively, hitting .357 with a double, home run and four RBI. Missouri opened its season 4-1 at the Auburn Invitational last weekend. The Tigers beat Mercer, Tennessee Chattanooga twice and split with Auburn. Rachael McGinnis is hitting .500 for Missouri with four doubles and a triple. Heather Kunkel (.429) leads the Tigers with seven RBI. The Stanford Invitational will be the season opener for Penn State, who finished last season with a 34-26 overall mark. Their 2002 leading hitter, Gina Bianchini, returns for her senior year as a Nittany Lion.

Preseason Rankings ...
The Cardinal debuted at No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top-25 Preseason Poll released Jan. 29. Seven Pac-10 teams are featured in the rankings, led by top-ranked UCLA. Arizona and defending national champions California round out the top-three. Washington checks in as the sixth-ranked team, followed by No. 13 Arizona State, No. 14 Stanford and 23rd-ranked Oregon State. As of right now, the Cardinal are scheduled to face 13 of the top-25 teams.

Recapping The Fiesta Bowl Tournament ...
The Cardinal finished the ASU Tournament with a 4-1 mark, recording victories over No. 25 Massachusetts (2-1), UNLV (8-0), Southwest Texas (11-0) and Texas Tech (7-0). Stanford did drop a 6-0 contest to 10th-ranked Cal State Fullerton. Tori Nyberg pitched to victories over UMass, SW Texas and Texas Tech to stand a perfect 4-0 on the season. Freshman Lauren Lappin led the Cardinal at the plate, going 9-for-17 (.529) in five games and scoring four runs. The Stanford bats exploded against SW Texas, as Kira Ching hit two long balls and finished 2-for-4 with three RBI. Cassi Brangham recorded a grand slam against the Bobcats and Jessica Allister also hit a solo shot. Ching and Allister continued their hot hitting with home runs the following day versus Texas Tech.

'LL' Making Her Mark ...
Freshman Lauren Lappin has had a huge impact in only her first seven games as a collegiate softball player. Lappin leads the team with a .474 batting average, recording her first hit as a Cardinal against Massachusetts on Feb. 7. Stanford's lead-off hitter has also tallied nine runs, three RBI and holds a .600 on-base percentage.

Nyberg Standing Tall ...
At 5-11, senior pitcher Tori Nyberg has registered four starts and has four victories to her name in 2003. Nyberg has a 0.41 ERA, allowing only one earned run in 22.0 innings of work. The Belmont, Calif., native has fanned 12 batters and held opponents to a .188 average. Last season, Nyberg was Stanford's ace in the circle recording a 26-11 mark with a 1.51 ERA in her first full season as a starter.

Look Who's Back ...
After missing last season due to a knee injury, junior two-time All-American Dana Sorensen saw her first action in more than a year at the ASU Fiesta Bowl Tournament. Sorensen pitched the final inning against UNLV, striking out two batters in her first appearance in 2003. The San Diego, Calif., native has yet to give up a hit in four innings of work, recording nine strikeouts.

Looking Back At 2002 ...
Despite not reaching the College World Series in 2002, the Stanford softball team still had plenty to be proud of. The Cardinal concluded last season with a 44-20 overall record, recording their fifth consecutive 40-win season, and advanced to the postseason for the fifth straight year. The club finished in sixth place in the Pac-10, sporting a 7-14 conference ledger. The 2002 squad also remained among the nation's top-10 throughout the season and peaked as high as No. 2 - the highest ranking in program history. Stanford won 16 games in a row at one point, and opened the season by winning its first 11 contests. The Cardinal finished with a 1-2 mark at the NCAA Regionals in Fresno, which featured five teams ranked in the nation's top-20.

Cardinal Picked Fourth In Pac-10 Preseason Poll ...
Stanford was tabbed to finish fourth in the conference as selected by the Pac-10 coaches in the annual preseason poll. UCLA, the 2002 conference champion, was picked as the top team in 2003. The Cardinal garnered 30 points to tie California for fourth place. Arizona was chosen to finish second, followed by Washington, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State, Oregon State and Oregon. The Pac-10 placed seven of its eight squads in the NCAA Tournament last season, with four teams advancing to the World Series.

Welcome To The Farm ...
Stanford has a solid freshmen class of four players coming in this season. Infielder Megan Bordelon (Laguna Niguel, CA), shortstop Lauren Lappin (Anaheim, CA), outfielder Catalina Morris (Sonoita, AZ) and pitcher Laura Severson (Frankfort, IL) will all see their first action in the Cardinal and White this spring. Stanford also welcomes sophomore outfielder Katherine Hoffman (Kansas City, MO), who joins the squad after running for the Cardinal cross country team in 2000.

The Rittman File ...
John Rittman begins his seventh season at the helm of the Stanford women's softball program after being named head coach on July 12, 1996. Rittman's 2002 squad finished 44-20 overall and earned a sixth place finish in the Pac-10 at 7-14. The 2001 season was the most impressive campaign under Rittman's tenure, as the Cardinal finished with its best single-season overall record at 56-16-1. 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, 2002 and has accumulated a 254-120-1 overall mark while with the Cardinal. Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as the assistant coach at Washington.

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