Stanford welcomes Campbell, North Dakota State, College of Charleston and Texas Tech to the Farm for the four-day tournament.
March 5, 2008
Stanford, Calif. - THE WEEK AHEAD: Coming off of another solid weekend at the Worth Invitational in Fullerton and a midweek win over Boston College, the Stanford softball team (21-2) will look to increase its win tally with six more games this week. In the early stages of its 16-game home stand, the team will host Campbell, College of Charleston, Texas Tech and North Dakota State in the Stanford Classic, Thursday through Sunday.
LAST WEEK: Stanford won five more games by significant margins last week, before dropping a heart-breaker to No. 5/7 Florida on Sunday. The Cardinal picked up a 6-0 win over Providence in a midweek game, then cruised to four more victories at the Worth Invitational in Fullerton, topping all four opponents by six or more runs. On Sunday, Florida senior Mary Ratliff belted a walk-off three-run homerun to best the Cardinal in the seventh inning, 4-3. Stanford beat Boston College, 5-1, on Tuesday.
MORE PLEASE: One base is never enough for the Cardinal hitters this year. The team has already combined for 46 doubles, a triple and 26 homeruns this season, adding up to a whopping 73 extra-base hits. How does that stack up? Less than a month into the season, Stanford already has more than two-thirds of its double total from last year (69 percent) and nearly 80 percent of its homerun total from last year. Senior Tricia Aggabao leads the team with seven doubles this year, while sophomore Rosey Neill paces the team with nine homeruns and 14 extra-base hits. Every player in the Stanford starting lineup has doubled at least twice this year.
SHOTGUN START: Stanford's season-opening win streak ended Feb. 24, but not before the 2008 Cardinal reached a very notable landmark. Stanford won its first 15 games, the best start in program history. The previous program record was 12 games, set by the 2001 team that went on to win a school record 54 games and finish third at the Women's College World Series. The streak was also Stanford's second longest overall, topped only by a 16-game run recorded by the 2002 squad. On Mar. 1, the Cardinal posted its 20th win, marking the earliest date the team has hit the milestone in program history.
600 AND COUNTING: Junior pitcher Missy Penna continues to dominate in the circle, establishing herself as one of the nation's best. The Stanford ace, who leads the Pac-10 in wins and is second in strikeouts, added two more wins and 26 more strikeouts to her season's work last weekend. Penna saw her first action against Louisville, struck out 13 batters and didn't allow a single earned run. She followed with a 10-strikeout shutout of Purdue on Saturday, nabbing her 600th career K in the win. Penna is just the second player in school history to reach the milestone, joining three-time All-American Dana Sorensen. With 95 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 1.11 ERA and has struck out 124 batters.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: Stanford played its first extra inning game on Feb. 21, and won a long one for the first time since May 2, 2006. Last Friday against Louisville, the Cardinal added one more run-rule decision to its tally. The Cardinal has already run-ruled eight opponents this year, matching last year's total in just the first month of the season.
CHINN FANS 11: Against Boston College, freshman pitcher Ashley Chinn recorded the best game of her short collegiate career. The rookie earned her seventh career win, struck out a career-high 11 batters, and gave up just two hits. Against Texas Tech last Saturday, Chinn struck out nine batters. For the season, she owns a 1.49 ERA and a .187 opposing batting average.
OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: Stanford blasted ten homeruns at the Worth Invitational last weekend, and added two more on Tuesday to bring its team total up to 26 on the year. Sophomore Rosey Neill has hit four bombs in the last week, and senior Michelle Smith hit three long balls at the Worth Invitational. Neill and Smith are the top two homerun hitters in the Pac-10 so far. Sophomore Alissa Haber hit two in the game against St. John's on Friday, and added another one against Boston College on Tuesday. Neill leads the team with nine homeruns this season, and Smith is now second only to Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza on the program charts with 38 for her career. Three of the top-10 long ball hitters in program history (Smith, Neill and Maddy Coon) are on of the current roster.
A FIRST FOR EVERYTHING: Stanford senior Tricia Aggabao has accomplished a lot in her four years on the Farm, but her list of firsts grew longer this weekend. In her 451st career at bat on Saturday, the left fielder hit her first career homerun, driving a ball over the left field wall. On Sunday, Aggabao robbed her first opponent of a homerun, reaching over the fence to steal a Gator long ball in the sixth inning. Aggabao also stole her eighth base of the year in the final game of the weekend, marking her first collegiate season with eight or more steals. With another steal on Tuesday, Aggabao is now among the program's all-time top-10 in career steals.
OUT OF THE GATES: Sophomore Alissa Haber has given the Cardinal offense quite a lead-off jolt on more than one occasion this season. The Cardinal center fielder has five homeruns this year, and three of those have come on Stanford's first at bat of the game.
THERE WHEN YOU NEED `EM: Who's best to have at the plate when the team need's it most? Junior Maddy Coon is the most likely to get a hit with runners on base (.415), and freshman Melisa Koutz is hitting a team-high .462 with runners in scoring position and is 5-for-10 with bases loaded. With two outs, senior Erin Howe is batting a team-high .400, and sophomore Shannon Koplitz leads the team with 13 two-out RBI.
NEILL ON A RUN: Stanford catcher Rosey Neill paced the Cardinal on an offensive rampage this weekend, hitting .500 with ten hits, two doubles, three homeruns and a whopping 1.050 slugging percentage. Against Providence, her two-RBI single got the Cardinal rolling in the first inning, and against St. John's her three hits paced the team. Against Louisville, Neill's solo homer tied the game and started a slew of nine unanswered Cardinal runs. The blast was the first if a string of three-straight games in which Neill homered, and her three-RBI blast against Purdue put the finishing touches on an impressive Stanford win. Neill had a least one hit in every game. Her current six-game hitting streak matches the longest for a Cardinal player this season. For her efforts, Neill was earned her first career Pac-10 Player of the Week honor.
THE 300 CLUB: Stanford is 23 games into the 2008 season, and the team's batting averages continue to be impressive. Seven of the nine batters in the starting lineup are hitting above .300, and the entire starting line-up boasts on-base percentages of .340 or better. Nine players have already recorded double-figure hits this year and every single starter has at least one extra-base hit. As a team, Stanford is hitting .325, has outhit opponents 190-80 and outscored them 155-30.
PICK YOUR PITCH: Junior Maddy Coon knows how to be selective when she steps up to the plate. In her 84 times up this year, Coon has walked 24 times, solely accounting for nearly a quarter of the free bases earned by the Cardinal. As a result, she leads the team with a .541 on-base percentage. Just a junior, Coon is already fifth on the Stanford career walks chart with 82. Against St. John's, Coon walked a school-record four times.
CATCH US IF YOU CAN: Stanford players have stolen 28 bases this year, and matched a season-high with three against Boston College on Tuesday. Just three weeks into the season, that total is just seven steals short of Stanford's entire steal total from 2007 (35). Senior Tricia Aggabao paces the Cardinal with nine stolen bases on the season. Her last one earned her a place among the school's top-10 base-stealers of all-time.
RECORDS WATCH: A number of current Cardinal players resumed their climbs up the program's career charts last week. Senior Michelle Smith, who shattered the single-season homerun record as a freshman, is looking to do the same to a few career records this year. Smith remains second on the career homerun chart (38), fourth on the career RBI chart (159), tenth on the career doubles chart (30), tied for eighth on the career walks chart (65), tenth on the career runs chart (97) and fifth on the career assist chart (360). She needs just two more hits to join the career top-10 in hits as well. Junior Maddy Coon is among the program's all-time leaders in homeruns (8th, 15), doubles (10th, 30) and walks (5th, 82). Seniors Anna Beardman and Tricia Aggabao are among the program's leaders in triples, while senior Erin Howe is fifth on the all-time putouts list (797). Sophomore Rosey Neill found her way onto the career homerun chart last week (7th, 16) as well as the career putouts chart (8th, 563).
PITCHING TO THE TOP: Stanford's two returning pitchers are both among the program's best to ever enter the circle. Junior Missy Penna is second all-time in both wins and strikeouts with 60 and 611, respectively. She reached both the 600-strikeout and 60-win plateaus against Purdue on Mar. 1. Senior Becky McCullough is tied for seventh all-time with 42 career wins and fifth with 293 career strikeouts. Freshman Ashley Chinn's seven wins already rank her tenth on the all-time win list.
2007 IN REVIEW: In 2007, Stanford posted its 11th consecutive winning season with a 35-21-1 overall record, earned an NCAA berth for the tenth-straight time and advanced to the Stanford Regional Championship. Newcomer Alissa Haber led the Cardinal with a .365 batting average, while pitcher Missy Penna notched 12 shutouts, 25 wins and 308 strikeouts. The Cardinal won two games at the NCAA Regional at Smith Family Stadium, but was eliminated by the LSU Tigers in the regional championship game.
THE ONES TO WATCH: Junior pitcher Missy Penna and sophomore center fielder Alissa Haber were listed among the nation's most promising players for 2008 when the USA Softball Top-50 Preseason Player of the Year Watch List. Both Haber and Penna were All-Pacific Region picks last year, and Haber earned third-team All-America accolades. As a freshman last year, Haber led the Cardinal in nearly every offensive category, while Penna became just the second pitcher in Stanford history to record 300 or more strikeouts in a season. Both players are now in contention for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate softball.
BACK IN ACTION: Stanford returns two All-Americans, three All-Pacific Region selections and seven All-Pac-10 players to the field in 2008. Sophomore Alissa Haber is coming off of her first career All-America honor, and senior Michelle Smith, a three-time All-Pac-10 pick and 2005 all-region pick, was an All-American in 2005. Junior Missy Penna was an all-region selection last year, and is a two-time All-Pac-10 choice. Becky McCullough, Tricia Aggabao, Shannon Koplitz and Maddy Coon have also been listed among the Pac-10's best in their careers.
NEW TO THE FIELD: Five new faces appear on the Cardinal roster this season, with all five being standouts from around California. Outfielder Autumn Albers is a four-time All-East Bay selection from Danville, while Ashley Chinn is a three-time Peninsula Athletic League Pitcher of the Year from Belmont. Catcher Brittany Minder is an all-state selection from Moreno Valley, and Melisa Koutz is a four-time All-Foothill League infielder from Valencia. The class is rounded out by infielder Erikka Moreno, a four-time All-Trinity League selection from Villa Park.
PAC-10 RUNDOWN: The Cardinal softball team was picked to finish fourth in the strongest collegiate softball conference in the country, when the annual Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll was released on Jan. 29. All eight Pac-10 teams were chosen to participate in the NCAA Tournament in 2007, with three teams advancing to the Women's College World Series. Arizona, which won both the conference and national titles last year, was voted to repeat its championship, while Arizona State and UCLA were picked to finish second and third, respectively. The Pac-10 has claimed 19 of the 26 all-time NCAA softball titles, and landed a team in the national title game 24 times. The league has sent at least seven of its eight teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine years.
TEAM USA TIES: Head Coach John Rittman was recently named to the coaching staff for the U.S. Olympic Team, where two former Cardinal standouts, Jessica Mendoza and Lauren Lappin, are currently training for the 2008 Beijing Games. Current Stanford sophomores Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber were both members of the USA Junior National Team that won a gold medal at the ISF Junior World Championship in Enschede, Netherlands last summer.
NO-HITTER CHATTER: Missy Penna's no-hitter against San Diego in the season-opener was the third of her career and the 14th in program history. Penna also kept UC Davis hitless as a freshman on Mar. 26, 2006 and Saint Mary's hitless last year, on Apr. 11, 2007. Including Penna, only five Stanford players have thrown no-hitters, and Dana Sorensen holds the program record with five. Penna's performance helped her earn USA Softball's National Player of the Week award as well as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor. Penna is the fifth Stanford player to earn a national weekly honor, joining Lauren Lappin, Dana Sorensen, Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson. The Pac-10 award in the second of Penna's career, as she also earned the award following the FIU/adidas Invitational last year.
RITTMAN SIGNS ANOTHER ONE: John Rittman and his staff have signed yet another top-notch recruiting class for the 2008-09 school year. The class is headlined by Ashley Hansen (Tempe, Ariz.) who was the only high school player invited to the U.S. National Team tryouts in September. Additionally, Rittman has signed Jenna Becerra (Westlake Village, Calif.), Christina Goswiller (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Maya Burns (San Francisco, Calif.), Sarah Hassman (Cupertino, Calif.) and Mary Kate Smith (Tampa, Fla.).
NATIONAL POLLS: After adding five more wins to its tally last week, the Cardinal moved up another notch in both the USA Today/NFCA Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll last week. The team came in at No. 9 and No. 7, respectively, one rung higher in each poll. Stanford has been ranked in every regular-season NFCA poll for the last decade, dating back to Feb. 25, 1998. The squad reached a program-high No. 2 national ranking on two occasions during the 2002 season.
STANFORD VS. THE FIELD: Stanford has never before played three of the four teams in this weekend's tournament. The Cardinal has a nine-game history with Texas Tech, however, and has gone 9-0 against the Red Raiders. It's been only a matter of days since the Cardinal last saw Texas Tech, as the Cardinal defeated the Red Raiders, 9-2, at the Worth Invitational last Saturday.
SCOUTING CAMPBELL: After a 29-40-1 2007 season and a fifth place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Camels are off to a hot start this year. The team is 14-6 on the year and has hit 25 homeruns. Sophomore Amanda Littlejohn is hitting .431 with eight homeruns and 31 RBI to lead the Camel offense, and senior Courtney Quinn is close behind with a .396 average and six homeruns. Freshman Lauren Stephan and sophomore Brittany Stanley are sharing the top pitcher role. Stephan has 43 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA, while Stanley has 47 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA.
SCOUTING COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: The Cougars took second in the Southern Conference last year and posted a 34-26 record. The team enters this year's Stanford Classic with a 9-13 record. Leading the way are three players hitting over .300: sophomore Kristie Shifflett, freshman Katie Nutaitis and junior Tiffany Harmon. Shifflett leads the team with five doubles and 12 RBI this year. In the circle, sophomore Terri Mesko has pitched the majority of innings for the Cougars, has struck out 75 batters and owns a 6.01 ERA.
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA STATE: In their first year playing a full Summit League schedule, the Bison own a 14-4 record in 2008. The squad is led by sophomore infielder Laurel Pipkin's .456 average and sophomore Melissa Chmielewski's four homeruns and 22 RBI. In the circle, senior pitcher Allison Bakke owns a 2.35 ERA, has nine of the Bison wins and has posted 60 strikeouts.
SCOUTING TEXAS TECH: Coming off of a 24-27 season and an eighth place finish in the Big 12, the Red Raiders got their first three wins of 2008 last weekend. Sophomore infielder Leah Legler is the team's top offensive player, with a .386 batting average and 22 hits. Senior Jennifer Corkin is the team's only returning All-Big 12 pick and is hitting .239 on the year. Outfielder Montana Patin leads the team with six RBI. In the circle, sophomore Ashly Jacobs has thrown 46.1 innings, struck out 25 batters and posted a 2.72 ERA.
HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 12th season at the helm of the Cardinal, Head Coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 465-224-3 (.674) career record to start 2008. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 11 consecutive winning seasons, ten straight NCAA Tournament appearances and nine 40-win seasons. Under Rittman, Stanford has claimed a share of its first conference championship and made two appearances in the Women's College World Series. Recently, Rittman, who has been a member of the U.S. National Team coaching staff since 2001, was named an assistant coach for the 2008 USA Olympic Team that will compete at the Games in Beijing, China this summer.
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