Penna No-Hitter Carries Stanford To Regional Title
May 18, 2008
Amherst, Mass. - After a frustrating start to Championship Sunday, the 12th-seeded Cardinal softball team needed to bring its best to bounce back and win the second game of a doubleheader for the regional title at UMass Softball Complex in Amherst, Mass. With its backs against the wall, however, the Cardinal simply unleashed. Stanford defeated Massachusetts, 6-0, to claim the Amherst Regional title and earn a ticket to next weekend's Super Regionals.
Missy Penna threw her second no-hitter of the year, while Stanford pounded UMass pitcher Brandice Balschmiter with 11 hits, the most the NCAA ERA leader has allowed all year. Rosey Neill ripped three hits to pace Stanford's prolific offense, and bashed her 19th homer of the year in the fifth inning to match the school's single-season homerun record.
Stanford improves to 49-13 with the win and will make its third NCAA Super Regional appearance in four years next weekend against No. 5 seed Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Massachusetts ends its season with a 42-13 record.
In her fourth game in three days, Penna provided arguably her best performance of the weekend. The junior struck out nine, and held the Minutewomen hitless. The no-hitter was the fourth of Penna's career and her first since throwing one in the season-opener at San Diego. The Cardinal ace improves to 37-11 with the win, while Balschmiter finishes her impressive junior season with a 31-8 mark.
With each of the first two games between the Minutewomen and Cardinal decided in the top of the first inning, the deciding game proved no different. Stanford jumped on Balschmiter right away, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore Alissa Haber reached on an error to start the game and was bunted to second by Shannon Koplitz. Maddy Coon then stepped up and drilled a double to the wall in right center, driving in Haber for the crucial first run. After Coon took third on a wild pitch, Neill tagged her first of three hits, driving an RBI single to center field. Pinch runner Michelle Schroeder stole second on the next at bat, and advanced to third on an ensuing ground out. Senior Erin Howe extended the rally, drilling and RBI single up the middle to give Stanford a 3-0 lead.
In the second inning, Stanford continued its offensive push. With two outs, Haber singled through the right side, took second on a passed ball, and scored on Koplitz' first hit of the game, another single through the right side.
In the fifth inning, Stanford all but put the game out of reach. Neill stepped up and belted homerun No. 19 to right center field to set the tone. The blast tied the school record teammate Michelle Smith set in 2005. Notably, Neill's bomb was just the second of the season against Balschmiter.
After Neill's long ball, the Cardinal continued to fight. Smith walked and advanced to third on a double to right field by Howe. With one out, senior Tricia Aggabao cracked her second sacrifice fly in as many games to score Smith from third.
With the win, Stanford claimed the school's fifth regional title, and third since the tournament was structured to include Super Regionals in 2005.
Stanford will meet Texas A&M on Friday in College Station at a time to be determined. The Cardinal will play the Aggies in a three-game series for a berth in the 2008 Women's College World Series.