No. 6/7 Stanford Hosts Sacramento State, No. 5 California

April 12, 2006

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COMING UP: No. 6/7 Stanford Softball (29-7) hosts Sacramento State Wednesday night at 6:00 pm before taking on No. 5 California this weekend. The Cardinal will travel to Berkeley to play the Bears Friday at 3:00 pm before hosting Cal in a doubleheader Satuday, beginning at 1:00 pm. The first game of the doubleheader versus Cal will be broadcast live on Comcast Sports Net.

CARDINAL UPSETS BEAVERS: In the first game of the Cardinal's Pac-10 home opener, No. 8/9 Stanford upset No. 6 Oregon State, 3-2. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning versus the Beavers, sophomore Erin Howe knocked in senior Shoney Hixson to give Stanford the win. On Saturday, the Cardinal topped Oregon, 7-3, after freshman Missy Penna hit a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. Stanford fell to Oregon on Sunday, 9-2.

SACRAMENTO STATE HORNETS: Sacramento State travels down to The Farm with a 21-14 record, 2-2 in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. The Hornets went 2-2 last weekend against Loyola Marymount to open conference play. Lindy Winkler currently leads the Hornet squad in hitting with a .413 average, 26 runs, 12 RBI, three home runs and has gone 7-7 in stolen bases. Senior pitcher Nikki Cinque is 9-9 this season with a 1.64 ERA, striking out 93 batters and walking 24 in 119 innings. Stanford leads the series against Sacramento State, 17-6, going 1-1 last season in a doubleheader versus the Hornets.

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS: The now fifth-ranked Golden Bears enter this weekend's games with a 35-4 record, winning two games against Oregon State last weekend with one game versus Oregon postponed. Cal is 4-1 in Pac-10 play with additional wins over UCLA and Washington. Senior infielder Haley Woods is hitting .410 on the season with 28 runs and 44 RBI. Woods has also collected 13 doubles and 12 home runs for a .829 slugging percentage. Senior pitcher Kristina Thorson is 25-3 in the circle this year with a 0.79 ERA. Thorson has struck out 264, walked 31 and allowed 89 hits in 169 innings. California leads the series against the Cardinal, 25-15, but Stanford won two of three games against the Bears in 2005.

RECORD REVIEW: Freshmen pitcher Missy Penna came close to Dana Sorensen's single-game strike out record (16) earlier in the year against Nevada, tallying 13 strikeouts. Penna has totalled 136 strikeouts in 23 appearances, putting her near the all-time top-10 list with at least 20 games to play. Fellow newcomer Maddy Coon has homered nine times this year, one home run out of the all-time top-10 list. Sophomore Anna Beardman has collected five triples thus far, putting her one away from Catalina Morris' school record of six triples in 2005.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST: The Amateur Softball Association announced its initial watch list on February 2 for the 5th annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Seniors Lauren Lappin and Catalina Morris and junior Jackie Rinehart have been named to the Watch List. A list of 10 finalists will be named and released on May 10, followed by a list of three finalists to be announced May 31. The winner will be announced during the WCWS in Oklahoma City.

NATIONAL POLL: UCLA reclaimed the top spot in both the Softball and USA Today/NFCA Top 25 polls after sweeping Arizona and Arizona State last weekend on the road. Texas fell to the second ranking in both polls after a loss to No. 15/16 Texas A&M, while Alabama climbed from the fourth to the third spot in both polls, winning three straight against Ole Miss. Cross-Bay rival Cal moved from seventh to fifth this week in both polls after beating Oregon State twice last weekend. Stanford is now ranked sixth in the Softball poll and seventh in the USA Today/NFCA poll after upsetting then sixth-ranked Oregon State.

PAC-10 PRESEASON POLL: Stanford was 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 tenth season on The Farm, head coach John Rittman has tallied a 388-181-1 overall record (nine full seasons) and coached his team to the school's first-ever conference championship last season. Rittman recently celebrated his 400th career win against Maryland at the Palm Springs Classic. 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.

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