No. 8/8 Stanford Tackles Oregon Schools In Pac-10 Home Series

April 8, 2008

THE WEEK AHEAD: The Stanford softball team returns home for another Pac-10 series this week, this time against Oregon State and Oregon. The Cardinal will be looking to boost its conference win total against the only unranked squads in the Pac-10. Oregon State visits the Farm on Friday night at 7 p.m., while Oregon will battle Stanford Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon, all at Smith Family Stadium.

LAST TIME OUT: On its most grueling road trip of the season, the Cardinal lost two more close contests before picking up its first conference win against Washington on Sunday. Three costly errors allowed top-ranked UCLA to edge Stanford, 3-1, on Friday, and the Washington Huskies claimed a 4-1 upset of Stanford on Saturday. Freshman Melisa Koutz recorded a clutch two-RBI double to lift Stanford to its first Pac-10 win over the Huskies on Sunday, however, 3-1.

ON TRACK FOR 500: Head Coach John Rittman is on track for an important career milestone this weekend. Rittman, who currently has 499 career wins, could hit his 500th Friday night. Rittman entered the 2008 season as one of the top-25 winningest all-time Division I coaches with a .674 winning percentage in his 11 seasons a head coach. Rittman has boosted his record to 499-231-3 (.683) since the 2008 season began.

THEY JUST KEEP COMIN': Sophomore catcher Rosey Neill continues to launch homerun after homerun, even against some of the toughest Pac-10 pitchers. Neill moved another notch closer to the school's single-season homerun record on Saturday, and is now within three long balls of that record. Neill's 16 homeruns top booth of the 14-homerun seasons posted by Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza in 2001 and 2002 and are second only to the 19 homers recorded by teammate Michelle Smith in 2005. Neill, who has hit at least one homerun every weekend of the season, leads the Pac-10 in homeruns, and is ranked third nationally in homeruns per game. Thanks in part to all of those bombs, she also boasts one of the nation's top-10 slugging percentages (.847).

RIGHT OFF THE BAT: When sophomore Alissa Haber goes deep, she doesn't waste time. The Cardinal center fielder has six homeruns this year, and four of those, including Friday's at UCLA, have come on Stanford's first at bat of the game. The Cardinal is 16-1 when scoring in the first inning. Haber been the one to score that first run in 14 of those games.

JOINING THE DEFENSIVE GREATS: Senior Michelle Smith is on track to join the greatest defensive players in school history this week. The Cardinal third baseman is just two assists short of 400, and would be just the fourth Stanford player to reach the milestone. So far, Lauren Lappin, Michelle Schneider and Robin Walker have been the only players record 400 assists in their careers.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE: The Stanford team has already combined for 63 doubles, three triples and 38 homeruns this season. With a total of 104 extra-base hits, the Cardinal is averaging nearly three per game! How does that stack up? Stanford is just four shy of reaching its double total from last year (67) and has already registered the fourth-highest homerun total in school history. Sophomore Alissa Haber leads the team with ten doubles, while fellow sophomore Rosey Neill paces the squad with 16 homeruns. Stanford has recorded at least one extra-base hit in 40 out of its 41 contests so far.

700 K's AND COUNTING: Junior pitcher Missy Penna became the second pitcher in school history to record 700 career strikeouts two weeks ago, and now continues her march to 800. Three-time All-American Dana Sorensen is the only other player to have accomplished the feat. The Stanford ace, who leads the Pac-10 in wins, has reached double-figures 12 times this season, including a 15-K performance against Campbell last month. That performance was just one short of the program-record 16 she recorded against Northwestern last February. With 191.1 innings under her belt this year, Penna owns a 1.02 ERA, averages 9.2 strikeouts per game and carries a .147 opposing average. With 251 total K's this year, Penna is second only to herself (2007) and Sorensen (2001, 2003 and 2004) on Stanford's single-season list.

PENNA HITS 70: Missy Penna is not only one of best strikeout pitchers in school history, but she is also one of the winningest. With her victory over Washington on Sunday, Penna nabbed her 70th career win and moved into a tie for second place with Becky Blevins on Stanford's career win chart. With 23 wins on the season, she stands just two short of her total from last year, and in sixth place on the school's single-season list.

PERFORMING IN THE PAC: Senior Erin Howe has emerged as the most consistent hitter since Pac-10 play started, owning a team-high .308 average in conference contests. Sophomore Alissa Haber leads the team with six hits in conference play and has hit in four out of the last five games.

COON COMING THROUGH: Maddy Coon was responsible for all three Cardinal RBI in the team's win over Sacramento State last Wednesday, and hit for the cycle over the week's four games. The junior cracked her second career triple and 17th career homerun against the Hornets, doubled against Washington on Saturday and singled against the Huskies on Sunday. With the RBI, Coon joined teammate Michelle Smith in the company of the school's top-10 career RBI leaders. She now has 94 RBI in her three years on the Farm.

A PRESEASON TO REMEMBER: Stanford recorded arguably its best preseason in school history this year, setting a number of program bests. The Cardinal won its first 15 games, the best start in school history and the program's second-longest winning streak overall. The squad went on to nab its 30th win on Mar. 22, hitting the milestone at the earliest date in program history (and for just the third time before the month of April). Despite playing a schedule that included five nationally-ranked teams, Stanford entered Pac-10 play with its best winning percentage in school history (.941). Finally, the squad scored in a program-record 35 straight games before being shut out.

PICK YOUR PITCH: Maddy Coon broke the program's single-season walk record before the first week of Pac-10 play was even complete, and has gone on to simply obliterate that record. Coon walked six more times last week in 16 plate appearances, and now has walked a whopping 41 times. Her record tops the previous 33-walk mark set in 2002 by Sarah Beeson. Not surprisingly, Coon leads the team with a .503 on-base percentage. Just a junior, she is second only to Beeson in career walks with 99 (to Beeson's 115). On Feb. 29 against St. John's, Coon walked a school-record four times. She is third nationally with 1.00 walk per game.

SOPHOMORE SLUMP? NOT EVEN ClOSE...: The Stanford sophomore class has provided the biggest jolt of offense for the Cardinal this season. Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber are pacing the team with batting averages of .373 and .395, respectively, and are two of the top offensive players in the Pac-10. Combined, the sophomore class has tallied 80 runs, 122 hits, 26 doubles and 25 homeruns. A sophomore has scored a run in 36 of the team's 41 games, and recorded a hit in 39 of them.

THE LONG...: Stanford played two extra-inning games in its first weekend of Pac-10 play, and weathered both on the back of pitcher Missy Penna. The 13 innings thrown by Penna against Arizona State matched a program-record for innings thrown in a single contest. Before this weekend, Stanford's only extra-inning game came on Feb. 21 against Florida Atlantic, when the squad won a long one for the first time since May 2, 2006.

...AND SHORT OF IT: Stanford has run-ruled 11 opponents this year and won 12 games by eight or more runs. The team needs to do it just once more to match the program record (13 times in 1999 and 2005). Last year, the team run-ruled just eight opponents.

OVER THE FENCE, OVER AND OVER: Stanford already has 38 homeruns this year, the fourth highest team total in program history. Sophomore Rosey Neill has accounted for 16 of those, and, less than two months into the season, she is just three short of teammate Michelle Smith's single-season record (19 in 2005). Smith, who has seven homeruns this year, stands second only to Mendoza on the school's career homerun chart (38 HR's). Notably, three of the top-10 long ball hitters in program history (Smith, Neill and Maddy Coon) are on of the current roster.

THERE WHEN YOU NEED `EM: Who's best to have at the plate when the team needs it most? Sophomore Alissa Haber is most likely to get a hit with runners on base (.432), with two outs (.375) and with runners in scoring position (.485). Freshman Melisa Koutz is 6-for-11 (.545) with bases loaded, while Rosey Neill leads the team with 21 two-out RBI.

LEAVING `EM EMPTY-HANDED: As a team, Stanford has shut out 17 opponents this season, held ten more to just a single run and allowed just one opponent more than five runs. On the flip side, Stanford has only been shut out twice this year, and has scored five or more runs 22 times. The Cardinal averages 5.4 runs per game, and holds opponents to just 1.3.

CATCH US IF YOU CAN: Stanford players have stolen 45 bases this year, already besting the squad's figure from last year by ten (35). Senior Tricia Aggabao paces the Cardinal with 13 stolen bases on the season. Having already more than doubled her career total this year alone, Aggabao is the ninth-best base-stealer on the program's career chart (22). Fellow senior Anna Beardman joined Aggabao on the chart against UC Davis two weeks ago, stealing two bases to climb into the tenth spot on the list with 19. Aggabao's 13 steals in 2008 tie for sixth on the program's single-season list.

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 tied for second all-time in wins (70) and second in strikeouts (738). Senior Becky McCullough is tied for seventh all-time with 42 career wins and is fifth with 293 career strikeouts. Freshman Ashley Chinn's ten wins already put 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. Haber was also named to ESPN's Preseason All-America Team, distinguishing her as one of the nation's 12 most promising players.

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. 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.

PERFECTLY DONE: Freshman pitcher Ashley Chinn threw her first career perfect game against Princeton on Mar. 22, the seventh all-time for a Cardinal player. Dana Sorensen was the last player to throw a perfect game, doing so against Hawaii on Mar. 28, 2004. The Cardinal newcomer owns a 10-1 record, and boasts a 1.48 ERA.

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: The Cardinal dropped a spot in the USA Today/NFCA and the Softball polls this week, coming in at No. 8 in both. 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.

SCOUTING OREGON STATE: The Beavers are coming off of a fifth-place conference finish and their ninth-straight NCAA Regional appearance, where they were eliminated by Michigan in the championship game. Off to a 23-18 start and a 2-4 mark in the Pac-10, the Beavers are led by All-American ultility player Cambria Miranda with a .302 average, nine doubles and seven homeruns. Sophomore Dani Chisholm has had an outstanding start with 49 hits and a .374 batting average, while freshman McKenna Lowe is hitting at a .346 clip. Sophomore pitcher Kelly Dyer owns a 2.54 ERA, has won 14 games and struck out 137 batters.

THE SERIES WITH THE BEAVERS: The Cardinal is 30-15 all-time against the Beavers, good for its best winning percentage against a Pac-10 school (.667). Stanford dropped the series with Oregon State last season for the first time since the league began playing three-game series' in 2000. Alissa Haber hit a seventh-inning double to best the Beavers in the team's conference opener last year, 2-1, but Stanford dropped its last two regular-season contests to OSU, 8-5 and 9-2.

SCOUTING OREGON: The Ducks return 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 2-2 and was eliminated by South Carolina at the Columbia Regional. The Ducks are 26-16, with a 1-5 mark in conference play, and have knocked off two top-10 opponents, Oklahoma and Arizona. Sophomore outfielder Neena Bryant has had a breakout season, leading the Ducks with a .385 average, nine doubles, nine homeruns and 36 RBI. Two 2007 All-Region picks also return to the Oregon lineup, senior Joanna Gail and junior Sari-Jane Jenkins. Pitchers Melissa Rice and Alicia Cook are both 11-8, with 2.63 and 2.98 ERAs respectively.

THE SERIES WITH THE DUCKS: Stanford holds a slight edge in the series with Oregon, 22-20, and last won a series with the Ducks in 2005. Last year, the Cardinal traded run-rule decisions with Oregon in Eugene, losing 8-0 before winning 15-4. In the series rubber game at Smith Family Stadium, the squads went to extra innings, but Oregon eventually got the 5-4 edge.

SLAMMING THE DUCKS: Current Cardinal players have combined for six grand slams in their careers, and notably, four of those have been hit against Oregon. Senior Michelle Smith has hit both of her career grand slams against the Ducks (4/16/05 and 4/1/07), as has junior Missy Penna (4/8/06 and 4/1/07). Erin Howe and Maddy Coon are the only other current players with grand slams to their names.

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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