Cardinal Prepares for Stanford Classic

March 7, 2007

Stanford, Calif. -

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THIS WEEK: After two weeks on the road, the No. 12/13 Stanford softball team returns to the Farm to host its second home tournament of the season. The tournament kicks off with a 10 a.m. contest on Friday between San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara, and concludes with the tournament championship at noon on Sunday. The 12-game event features the Cardinal as well as UCSB, San Diego State, Sacramento State and Loyola Chicago. Stanford is scheduled to play double-headers on Friday and Saturday starting at 2 p.m., and a possible fifth game on Sunday at a time to be announced.

ON DECK: The Cardinal takes a week off to prepare for final exams and returns to the field to host another home tournament, Mar. 23-25. The Stanford Invitational II will kick off Friday, Mar. 23 at 11 a.m. and feature Stanford, Ohio, Portland State, Long Beach State and UC Davis. Stanford will play four games during the weekend, beginning with a 2 p.m. contest on Saturday against Long Beach State.

SEASON TO DATE: Stanford is 16-5 in 2007, after a tough weekend at the Worth Classic in Fullerton. On Feb. 9, the Cardinal opened the season at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., and went 3-2, with a trio of solid wins and a pair of losses to No. 4/4 Northwestern and No. 17/18 Texas. Stanford closed out the weekend with a decisive win over Northwestern State, however, and came home to dominate six games on its home field. After topping Sacramento State in the home-opener, the Cardinal went a perfect 5-0 and shutout two opponents at the Stanford Invitational to claim the tournament championship. The Cardinal won another title at the FIU/Adidas Invitational the following weekend, with a perfect 5-0 record at the Golden Panthers' tournament in Miami, Fla. The squad shutout four opponents during the weekend, behind an impressive performance by Missy Penna. At the Worth Classic in Fullerton, Stanford went 2-3, with wins over Texas Tech and Minnesota. The Cardinal has outscored opponents 114-45 this season and is batting .306 as a team.

BATTLING TWOFOLD: The Cardinal softball team had battles to fight on and off the field this weekend at the Worth Classic in Fullerton. In addition to facing five solid opponents in a 48-hour span, the squad had to contend with a bout of stomach flu that swept through the staff and the 13-player roster. Despite the challenge, Stanford managed to go 2-3 in the tournament, pulling out wins over Texas Tech and Minnesota.

OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: Stanford junior Michelle Smith led the Cardinal at the Worth Classic this weekend, blasting three homeruns in the first four games of the tournament, including a walk-off homerun in the seventh inning against Texas Tech. Against Cal Poly, Smith homered to left center to tie the game in the second inning. Against Texas Tech, she went 2-for-3 and was responsible for both of the team's RBI. Less than an hour after hitting her walk-off homerun to beat the Red Raiders, Smith homered for the third time of the weekend on her first at bat against Northwestern to put Stanford up 2-0. The Cardinal first baseman finished the weekend as the team's offensive leader with five hits (four of which were for extra bases), three homeruns and seven RBI. Smith now leads the Cardinal with 20 RBI and four homeruns on the year, and, as just a junior, stands fifth on the Cardinal career homerun chart with 27.

TWO AT A TIME: Against Minnesota on Sunday, the Cardinal slugged a season-high six doubles with Alissa Haber, Michelle Smith, Maddy Coon, Shannon Koplitz, Tricia Aggabao and Michelle Schroeder contributing to the tally. Stanford has 28 doubles as a team this season, led by Coon's nine trips to second base.

WALKING AROUND: Freshman Rosey Neill added to her impressive collection of free trips to first base this weekend, as the Cardinal catcher was hit by two pitches and drew four walks. Neill has reached on balls a team-high 18 times this season and has been hit by a pitch five times. Combined with a .333 batting average, the freshman is more likely to get on base than anyone else on the roster. She reaches after more than half of her times at the plate, with a .552 on-base percentage. She is currently third in the Pac-10 in walks, tied for first in being hit by a pitch and first in the combination of the two. Neill's efforts have earned 22 bases for the Cardinal along with 18 RBI and have been converted into eight runs.

IN CONFERENCE: Maddy Coon is the conference leader in doubles, with nine in her first 21 games. Freshman Alissa Haber, who has five doubles this year, is tied for eighth in the conference in the category. Haber is also tied with teammate Jackie Rinehart for sixth in the conference with 25 hits. Missy Penna remains one of the top pitchers in the conference with the best opposing batting average (.114) in the league. She also tops the Pac-10 charts in wins (11), innings pitched (82.1) and starts (14). Penna is third in the conference with 119 strikeouts and sixth with a 1.36 ERA.

SCALING THE CHARTS: Six Stanford players have etched their names on the Stanford career top-10 charts and are continuing to climb. Jackie Rinehart passed Jessica Allister (`04) on the career hits chart this weekend and now stands sixth all-time with 220 hits in a Stanford uniform. Rinehart is also eighth in career runs scored (111), eighth in career triples (4) and eighth in stolen bases (20). Junior Michelle Smith added three homeruns to her collegiate tally (27) this weekend, passing Kira Ching (`03) for fifth place on the career chart. Smith also stands seventh with 110 RBI and tenth with 23 doubles. As just a sophomore, Maddy Coon has already made the top-10 chart with 11 homeruns and junior Anna Beardman stands sixth all-time with seven triples.

PITCHING LEADERS: Although Stanford has just two active pitchers, the staff is one of the most successful combinations in Stanford history. Not even to the midpoint of her sophomore season, Missy Penna stands fourth in Stanford history with 298 career strikeouts, and eighth with 33 career wins. Penna is averaging 10.1 strikeouts per game, with 119 K's this season. Junior Becky McCullough is seventh on both the career strikeouts and wins charts with 247 and 36 respectively.

NOTES FROM THE DUGOUT: Stanford's longest winning streak was 12 games between Feb. 11 and Mar. 2 ... The team scored a season-high 13 runs against Sacramento State on Feb. 13 ... The Cardinal posted back-to-back 15 hit games against Syracuse (2/24) and Marist (2/25) ... The team's six doubles against Minnesota on Sunday was a season-high ... Jackie Rinehart and Alissa Haber lead the Cardinal with seven multiple-hit games apiece ... Rosey Neill leads the team with six multiple RBI games ... Haber's 10-game hitting streak between Feb. 10 and Feb. 22 stands as the longest by a Cardinal player this season ... Maddy Coon and Michelle Smith are currently on three-game hitting streaks ... Stanford has posted seven shutouts this season and been held scoreless just once ... Stanford has scored 10 or more runs three times this season and run-ruled five opponents ... Rinehart's five hits against Syracuse (2/24) tied a Stanford single-game record for hits against a Division I opponent ... Missy Penna's 16 strikeouts against Northwestern (2/10) tied a single-game school record.

STANFORD CLASSIC HISTORY: Stanford is 16-4 all-time at the Stanford Classic. Last year, the team went undefeated at the tournament with wins over Pacific, Miami (Ohio), BYU, Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee State.

SCOUTING THE UC SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS: UCSB posted a 24-22 record in 2006 and placed fourth with an 8-10 record in the Big West. Fourteen letterwinners and seven starters are back for 2007, and so far the Gauchos are doing well. The team is 13-5 going into the weekend and is coming off of an 8-7 upset of No. 2/4 Arizona State on Friday. Junior Tisha Duran leads the team with 11 RBI and a .353 average this year, while sophomore Christine Ramos leads the team with 22 hits. The Gauchos are strong in the circle this season, with two pitchers boasting ERAs under 1.00. Jennifer Davis has six starts and a 0.78 ERA, Lindsey Correa is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA and MeLinda Matsumoto is undefeated at 6-0. Stanford is 8-2 all-time against the Gauchos and fell 2-0 in the most recent meeting between the two teams on Apr. 23, 2006.

SCOUTING THE SACRAMENTO STATE HORNETS: Sacramento State is coming off a 35-20 season, and just missed an NCAA berth with a second place finish in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference last year. The squad returns 13 letterwinners and six starters from last season, including three players who hit over .300. The Hornets are 4-9 this season, and have lost six of their last seven. Catcher Jamie Schloredt, a 2006 First Team All-PCSC honoree, has been having a standout season so far. She leads the team with a .526 average, has twice as many hits as any other player on the roster (20) and boasts a team-leading 11 RBI. Sophomore Cassie Cervantes is the top pitcher for the Hornets with 35 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA. Stanford is 19-6 all-time against Sacramento State, and defeated the Hornets 13-2 on Feb. 13.

SCOUTING THE SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS: San Diego State finished with a 34-15 record last year and made the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history. The team went 2-2 at the Los Angeles Regional, finishing the season with a 7-0 loss to UCLA. Nine letterwinners and six starters return for the 2007 campaign, which has gotten off to an 11-8 start. Melissa Owens and Brittany Knudsen lead the Aztec offense with 19 hits and .388 averages. Christina Ross is the top pitcher for the Aztecs with a 6-3 record, four shutouts and a 0.94 ERA. Owens is a key pitcher for SDSU as well, with five wins and a 1.94 ERA. Stanford leads the series with San Diego State, 7-3.

SCOUTING THE LOYOLA RAMBLERS: The Rambler softball team is coming off of a tough 20-41 season and a fourth place finish in the Horizon League. Twelve letterwinners and eight starters are back, however, including senior outfielder Tara Miller, who is a three-time All-Horizon League honoree. Miller, who was also an All-Regional selection last year, is third on the team so far with four hits. The Ramblers begin the week with a 1-5 record and have been led by the bats of newcomers Ashley Mitchell and Ellen Kresl. Amy Solava has been the top pitcher for Loyola with a 3.44 ERA. Saturday's contest marks the first-ever between the Cardinal and the Ramblers.

THE 2007 CARDINAL: Stanford returns ten letterwinners to the field in 2007, and adds four new faces. Seven starters return for the Cardinal, including three players who hit over .300 last season. Infielders Maddy Coon and Michelle Smith, outfielder Jackie Rinehart and pitchers Becky McCullough and Missy Penna make up a group of solid returning All-Conference performers. Coon led the team with nine homeruns last season, while hitting .353, and Rinehart started all 60 games and was one of the squad's top three offensive players. Smith set the single-season homerun mark in 2005, while McCullough and Penna combined for 32 wins and 252 strikeouts last season. This year, Stanford will be looking for its tenth consecutive 40-win season and its tenth-straight trip to the postseason.

2006 IN REVIEW: The Cardinal is coming off of a successful 2006 season, during which the squad posted a 42-18 record and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Stanford closed out the regular season with a home Pac-10 sweep, topping Washington and posting a pair of upsets over UCLA. The Cardinal went 4-1 in its first postseason weekend to claim the Region VI Championship and advance to the NCAA Super Regional. The Cardinal fell to Alabama, 4-1, in the first game, before dropping an 8-7 decision in extra innings to end the season.

TAKING ON THE BEST: Once again, Head Coach John Rittman has lined up one of the most challenging schedules in the nation for the Cardinal. Nine opponents appeared in the preseason top-25, and 15 participated in the NCAA Championship last season.

COON, RINEHART NAMED TO TOP-50 WATCH LIST: Sophomore Maddy Coon and senior Jackie Rinehart were among the players listed on the Top-50 Watch List for the 6th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, the award is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The 2007 Preseason Watch List is comprised of 50 players representing 33 schools and 11 different NCAA Division I Conferences.

NATIONAL POLLS: After a 2-3 weekend, Stanford, which was No. 8/9 last week, dropped in both the Softball poll and the USA Today/NFCA poll. The Cardinal is now No. 12 in the former poll and No. 13 in the latter. Tennessee remains No. 1 in both polls, and Arizona is unanimously second. For the second-straight week, all eight Pac-10 schools are ranked in both polls. Seven conference teams have now made appearances in the top-10 this year.

PAC-10 POLL: Stanford has been selected by conference coaches to finish fifth in the Pac-10 this season. Arizona, the defending National Champion, earned five first-place votes to take the top spot, followed by UCLA, the defending Pac-10 Champion, with three first-place votes. Arizona State came in third in the poll, followed by Oregon State and the Cardinal. The Pac-10 set a record in 2006 with seven teams, including Stanford, winning NCAA Regionals. Stanford, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington all advanced to Super Regionals last season, with the Wildcats, Sun Devils, Beavers and Bruins moving on to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. Pac-10 teams represented half of last year's WCWS field, the most of any conference in the nation.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: At the start of his 11th season at Stanford, Head Coach John Rittman carries a 430-199-1 (.683) career record and has brought Stanford softball from a non-scholarship club-level program to a fully-funded championship contender. He has coached the team to nine consecutive 40-win seasons and nine-straight postseason appearances. Under Rittman, Stanford has claimed a share of its first conference championship and made two appearances in the Women's College World Series.

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