Cardinal Hosts Stanford Invitational I
Feb. 14, 2006
COMING UP: No. 7 Stanford Softball hosts Santa Clara, Drake, Birmingham Southern and Sacramento State this weekend at the Stanford Invitational I. The tournament is the first of three that the Cardinal will host, including the Stanford Classic on March 9-12 and the Stanford Invitational II on March 24-26. Stanford will start the weekend against Santa Clara on Friday at 1:30pm, followed by Drake at 3:30pm. On Saturday, the Cardinal takes on Drake again at 1:30pm before facing the Birmingham Southern Panthers at 3:30pm. Stanford will close out the weekend versus Sacramento State at 11:30pm and Santa Clara at 1:30pm.
CARDINAL PICKS UP FOUR WINS IN TEMPE: Stanford got off to an impressive start last weekend at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Cardinal won four straight games against No. 21 Nebraska, Utah State, New Mexico and Nevada before facing the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns, 2-0. Freshman pitcher Missy Penna was 2-1 in her debut weekend, striking out 24 batters on the weekend and 13 versus Nevada alone. Senior outfielder Catalina Morris hit her first home run of the season versus New Mexico, also collecting five runs and two stolen bases and recording a .471 average.
RECORD-BREAKING 2005: Stanford is looking to build off of a strong postseason finish in 2005, in which the Cardinal hosted the NCAA Super Regional versus Tennessee. The season proved to be record-breaking as Stanford claimed a share of the Pac-10 regular season championship for the first time in school history. Shortstop Lauren Lappin, outfielder Catalina Morris and rookie infielder Michelle Smith all earned NFCA All-American honors. In addition to being named First-Team All-Conference, Lappin was designated Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in the first year of the award's existence. The Cardinal returns 13 letterwinners and seven starters in 2006, including seniors Lappin, Morris, Megan Bordelon, Shoney Hixson and Laura Severson. Stanford will also enjoy the presense of talented newcomers Maddy Coon (Chappaqua, NY) and Missy Penna (Miami, FL).
SANTA CLARA BRONCOS: Santa Clara captured the Pacific Coast Softball Conference championship in 2005, but fell short of an NCAA at-large berth. The Broncos return five seniors to this year's squad, including All-PCSC Second Team performers Jenny Brown and Jessica Clee. Santa Clara opened up the 2006 season with two double headers versus Pacific and UC Davis last weekend, losing both games to Pacific but picking up two wins over UC Davis.
DRAKE BULLDOGS: Drake will begin the 2006 season at St. Mary's this Thursday before attending the Stanford Invitational I. The Bulldogs finished last season fifth in the Missouri Conference Valley standings. Five seniors will lead the Bulldog starting squad, including pitcher Jessica Hicks who owns the second-best single-season strikeout total in Drake history.
BIRMINGHAM SOUTHERN PANTHERS: The Panthers opened up the season with a 2-0 sweep over Lipscomb last weekend at home. Birmingham Southern ended 2005 with a 25-32 record and a 5-7 record in the Big South Conference. The squad returns nine players from last season and welcomes eight newcomers.
SACRAMENTO STATE HORNETS: The Hornets lost their first four games of the season at the Campbell/Cartier Tournament last weekend before shutting out Cal Poly, 2-0. Sac State finished 2005 with the program's best winning percentage (.566) since 1997. The squad returns four All-Conference selections, including Lindy Winkler, Nikki Cinque, Gloria Toledo and Hilary Johnson.
NATIONAL POLLS: Defending Women's College World Series Champion Michigan sits atop both the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA preseason polls. Michigan garnered 16 and 21 first-place votes, respectively, to earn the No. 1 ranking. The remainder of the top five teams is consistent in both polls, with No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 4 Texas and No. 5 Arizona. UCLA earned the second-place nomination as it returns nine starters from the 2005 national runner-up team. The Bruins have been ranked in the top three teams for each year of the USA Today/NFCA poll's existance, with the exception of the 1998 season when UCLA began the season ranked No. 17. Tennessee finished last season in third place after advancing to the WCWS final four and returns two NFCA First-Team All-Americans in Monica Abbott and Sarah Fekete.
CONFERENCE RANKINGS: Stanford has been selected by conference coaches in the preseason poll to finish third in the Pac-10 this season. UCLA earned seven first-place votes to take the top spot, followed by Arizona in second with one first-place vote. Bay Area rival California is ranked fourth in the conference. UCLA, Arizona and California all advanced to the WCWS in 2005, with UCLA losing to Michigan in the championship series. 2005 marked the 19th-straight season in which a Pac-10 team played in the WCWS championship game.
HEAD COACH John Rittman: Now in his 10th season on The Farm, head coach John Rittman has tallied a 388-181-1 overall record and coached his team to the school's first-ever conference championship last season. In 2004, Rittman was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year and went on to help coach Team USA to a gold medal at the Athens Summer Olympics.