No. 2/2 Stanford Plays Critical Conference Series In The Desert
April 15, 2009
The No. 2/2 Stanford softball team (36-4, 6-3 Pac-10) plays a critical series in Arizona this week, meeting two top-10 teams in the desert. First, the second-place Cardinal will face the only team ahead of it in the Pac-10 standings, No. 9/11 Arizona (33-9, 5-2 Pac-10), in a game televised by CBS College Sports. The squad will then head north to Tempe to play Saturday and Sunday games against No. 5/8 Arizona State (34-8, 4-3 Pac-10). Game times Friday and Saturday are both 7 p.m., with the Sunday contest set for noon.
LAST TIME OUT
Stanford played a three-game series with No. 16/17 California last week and lost the series for the first time in two years. Stanford started strong, with freshman Ashley Hansen pounding the game-winning double to beat the Bears at Smith Family Stadium Thursday night. On Friday, two Cal home runs lifted the Bears to a 3-1 win, and a walk-off home run by junior Taylor Kelly in the bottom of the seventh on Saturday gave them the rubber game, 8-6. Hansen (.417) and sophomore first baseman Melisa Koutz (.444) paced Stanford for the weekend, combining for nine hits, two doubles and five RBI. On Tuesday, sophomore Ashley Chinn posted her seventh career shutout in a 7-0 win over Santa Clara.
Stanford's game this Friday is its second of four televised games during the Pac-10 season. The game will air live at 7 p.m. (PT) on Friday night, then be reshown Saturday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday at 9 a.m. and Tuesday at 3 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
SCALING THE POLLS
Stanford remains unanimously No. 2 in the major collegiate softball polls, holding the spot for the third straight week. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season NFCA poll for more than a decade, has been No. 2 only twice before - Feb. 20 and March 20 of the 2002 season. Holding onto the highest rank in school history, it is the first time ever that the Cardinal has been No. 2 in consecutive weeks. It is also the highest that the Cardinal has been ranked after the start of Pac-10 play. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with as many as five appearing in the top-10. Stanford has now been in the NFCA top-five for nine straight weeks, the longest streak since 2002.
THE BIG STREAK
With Stanford's loss to UCLA on March 27, one of the longest winning streaks in NCAA history, and the longest by the Cardinal program, came to an end. Going into its Pac-10 opener, Stanford had won 28 straight games, tying for the 17th-longest winning streak of all-time. It was the longest single-season run by a Pac-10 team since Arizona (31 games) and Cal (32 games) posted similar streaks early in 2001. Prior to this year, Stanford's longest win streak was 16 games (2002). The team swept five tournaments and went 47 days, 188 innings and 28 games without suffering a loss.
Stanford has scored first in 32 of its 40 games, and never let a lead slip away. Stanford has held its lead all 32 times it has scored first this year and come-from-behind four of the eight times that opponents have gotten on the board first.
Stanford pitchers Missy Penna and Ashley Chinn have combined to post some of the best numbers in the nation. As of Monday, the pair ranked fifth nationally in ERA (1.14). Currently, the duo has the Pac-10's best ERA (1.11), best opposing average (.170), most strikeouts (327) and most wins (36). Going into the week, Penna and Chinn had also allowed the fewest hits, runs, earned runs, walks, doubles, triples and home runs in the league. Their combined ERA is on pace to be the best team mark in school history, coming in just under the 1.20 record set by the 2001 pitching staff.
Stanford freshman Ashley Hansen, who was the only high school player invited to USA Softball's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007, is having the best rookie season since Stanford's most famous Olympian, Jessica Mendoza, stepped on The Farm exactly a decade ago. Mendoza went on to become a four-time first-team All-American and key player on the USA Team that won a gold medal in Athens in 2004 and a silver medal in Beijing last summer. Here's a look at how Hansen's 2009 season is lining up with Mendoza's 1999 season, when she earned the program's only Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award:
Mendoza has been the only Stanford rookie to hit over .400 (.415). Hansen is currently hitting .415. Mendoza had 81 hits in 62 games in 1999 (1.31 per game). Hansen has 59 hits in 40 games already (1.48 per game).
Mendoza had 13 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and slugged .641 during her rookie season. Hansen already has 12 doubles, five triples and three home runs and is slugging .634.
Mendoza earned Stanford's first national player of the week honor as a freshman on March 8, 1999, after just four weeks of collegiate play. Hansen followed in her footsteps on Feb. 17, 2009, becoming the second Stanford freshman to earn the award (after just her second weekend of collegiate play).
Mendoza was one of 18 first-team All-Americans as a freshman in 1999. Last week, Hansen was the only freshman among the 25 players named to USA Softball's 2009 Player of the Year Watch List.
THE Missy Penna FILE
LATELY: Penna went 1-1 and threw 14.1 innings in the Cal series last week. She struck out 26 batters and walked just three, posting double-digit strikeouts in both of her decisions. In Thursday's win, she tossed a three-hitter, fanned 12 batters in her 25th complete game and held the Bears without an earned run. With her 109th career win, Penna became one of the 25 winningest pitchers in NCAA history and cracked the top five on Stanford's single-season win chart (25). On Friday, her 12 K's were enough to crack the top 30 all-time NCAA strikeout leaders.
POTW DOMINATION: Penna has won four Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week awards this year, boasting more career honors than any active player in the conference (8). After recording two wins over No. 2 Washington in late March, Penna became the first player in school history to sweep both the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week awards.
IN THE NATION: Penna ranks among the top 10 pitchers in the country in four major pitching categories. She is the nation's shutout leader with 14, and is second only to Louisville's Kristen Wadwell with 25 wins. Her 0.90 ERA ranks fifth nationally, while her 247 K's stand seventh.
IN THE PAC-10: Penna leads the league in wins (25) and innings pitched (193.2) and ranks second to Washington's Danielle Lawrie with a 0.90 ERA and 247 K's. She also carries the third-best opposing average (.163) in the league.
SHUTOUT RECORD, CHECK: Penna shut out Notre Dame on Feb. 20, nabbing the 36th shutout of her career. With the win, Penna set a new school record, topping the previous top mark set by Becky Blevins a decade ago (1999). Since then, Penna has continued to dominate. Her shutout at Oregon on April 4 built her ongoing school shutout record to 46.
WIN RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Oregon State on April 3, Penna recorded her 106th career victory and passed three-time All-American Dana Sorensen as the winningest pitcher in Stanford history. With 109 career wins to date, she is the eighth-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history and among the 25 winningest of all-time.
INNINGS PITCHED RECORD, CHECK: With her win over Washington on March 29, Penna broke Sorensen's school record for innings pitched. Penna has now thrown 985.2 innings in her four years on The Farm. That total ranks seventh in Pac-10 history, eight innings short of sixth-place Jocelyn Forest (Cal `02).
STRIKEOUT RECORD UP NEXT: Penna now has 1,150 career strikeouts, four shy of Sorensen's school record. She is currently the nation's active career K leader (30 ahead of Washington's Danielle Lawrie). Her career total currently ranks eighth in Pac-10 history and among the top 30 of all time. Penna has already passed two-time Olympian Jennie Finch on the Pac-10 strikeout list and is currently tied with her in career wins.
SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS: Penna is currently carrying the second-best single-season ERA in school history (0.90, Dana Sorensen posted a 0.64 ERA in 2001). Penna's 25 wins tie for fifth on the Stanford single-season chart, her 247 K's rank sixth and her 14 shutouts are second only to the 15 she posted as a junior last year.
SINGLE-GAME STRIKEOUT RECORD: On March 23, Penna shattered the school's single-game strikeout record with 19 K's in a 10-inning win over Cal Poly. The performance bested the school record she set last May - 17 K's at Arizona State.
1,000 AND COUNTING: On March 1, Penna posted her 1,000th career strikeout and joined 10 of the most elite pitchers in Pac-10 history. Penna was the first active player in the country to reach the notable landmark and the 11th player in Pac-10 history to do so. Dana Sorensen is the only other Stanford player to hit 1,000, with 1,154 K's in her impressive career between 2000 and 2004.
RACE TO 1,200: Only 23 players in NCAA history have ever reached 1,200 career K's. Penna is 50 strikeouts short of adding her name to that elite list.
HARD TO HANDLE
Two-time All-American Alissa Haber is one of the toughest outs in the Pac-10 right now, as her team-high .428 batting average stands fifth in the conference and was among the top 50 nationally to start the week. Her current season average, as well as her slugging percentage (.746), are second only to the figures that Jessica Mendoza posted when she became Stanford's only Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2000 (.475 BA, .783 Slug. %).
Alissa Haber posted a career-long 18-game hitting streak between Feb. 7 and March 6, racking up 33 hits in the month-long span ... Ashley Hansen has had the team's only other double-digit streak at 10 games (Feb. 7-21) ... Hansen has also posted two separate seven-game multi-hit streaks ... Maddy Coon and Shannon Koplitz have both hit in six of the nine Pac-10 games, while Hansen has four multi-hit games in conference play ... Melisa Koutz and Maya Burns head to Arizona with the longest active streaks on the team (3 games).
CRACKING THE TOP-10
Alissa Haber cracked the school's all-time top-10 in hits last month, became the program's ninth player to get her 200th career hit on Tuesday and now has 201 for her career. Just a junior, she has already etched her name on seven of Stanford's career top-10 charts (hits, walks, doubles, triples, home runs, runs scored and stolen bases).
Stanford's freshmen have all lived up to their billing so far. Five freshmen have made at least one start, four have become regular members of the lineup and two (Ashley Hansen and Sarah Hassman) have gotten the starting nod in all 40 games. Hansen, who was the only high school player selected to attend USA Softball's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007, has headlined the rookie crew. In her first collegiate season, she already ranks among the top-10 offensive players in the conference with a .415 batting average, 59 hits, 12 doubles and 39 RBI. She is also the conference's leader in triples (5), and just one short of Stanford's single-season record.
Junior Alissa Haber hit her 48th career double on Tuesday, joining Jessica Mendoza and Sarah Beeson as one of the top-three double-hitters in school history. Only nine Stanford players, including Haber and teammate Maddy Coon, have ever hit 40 or more career doubles. Haber needs just two more doubles to become the third Stanford player to hit 50 and five more doubles to join the Pac-10's career top-10. At the start of the week, she ranked sixth nationally in doubles per game.
The Cardinal has been racking up tons of triples this season and set a new school record last night with 15 on the year. The 2009 team, which is currently carrying the best batting average (.301) in school history, has topped the previous-best 14-triple efforts of the 2005 and 2006 teams. Ashley Hansen leads the way with five triples this year, and is just one short of Stanford's single-season record.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON
Of the 25 players still in contention for the 2009 USA Softball National Player of the Year award, three belong to Stanford. Junior outfielder Alissa Haber, senior pitcher Missy Penna and freshman shortstop Ashley Hansen were deemed three of the nation's best players when the 25 finalists were announced on April 1. Stanford's three selections matched the most of any school, as Arizona and Alabama also had three players chosen. Hansen was the only rookie to make the list.
Stanford was selected to finish fifth in the Pac-10 this season in the annual poll of the league's coaches. UCLA, the 2008 Pac-10 runner-up, edged defending national champion Arizona State for the top spot, while Washington and Arizona finished just ahead of the Cardinal.
Senior picther Missy Penna threw her first no-hitter of the year against Kansas on Feb. 7. The no-hitter was the fifth of her career, tying Dana Sorensen's school record. Penna has now thrown five of the school's 17 all-time no-hitters. Sophomore Ashley Chinn threw two no-hitters, including the school's seventh perfect game, as a rookie last year.
FLOOD OF FREE PASSES
Just two weeks into her senior year, infielder Maddy Coon shattered the school's career walk record, passing Sarah Beeson's former mark of 115. Coon now holds every walk record in the Stanford books, with 133 career walks, 47 single-season walks (2008) and four single-game walks (2/29/08). Her 133 walks rank among the 10 best career totals in Pac-10 history as well (10th).
COON ON THE CLIMB
Maddy Coon has also established herself on a number of the school's other top-10 lists. Currently, Coon ranks sixth in career doubles (45), seventh in home runs (26), fifth in runs (137) and sixth in RBI (129). Also with 171 hits to her name, Coon is just the second player in school history to register triple digits in four different offensive categories (Sarah Beeson `02 is the other).
Alissa Haber is one of the most versatile hitters in school history. Recently, Haber joined three of the best hitters in school history - Jessica Mendoza `02, Kira Ching `03 and Catalina Morris `06 - as the only players to be among the school's 10 career leaders in doubles, triples and home runs.
KOPLITZ IN THE CLUTCH
Junior Shannon Koplitz has proved to work the best under pressure for the Cardinal. Hitting third in the Cardinal order this year, Koplitz is Stanford's best hitter with runners in scoring position (.408) and with two outs (.394). She is 4-for-4 with bases loaded and leads the team with 15 two-out RBI. Other clutch hitters? Alissa Haber is hitting .420 with runners on base and Ashley Hansen has hit six of the 11 times she has come up with bases loaded.
BEST VS. THE BEST
Most averages sink when you start facing the best, but since the start of the conference season, senior Maddy Coon has stepped up her game. Coon is hitting a team-high .375 in Pac-10 games this year, 42 points higher than prior to Pac-10 play. She was 3-for-10 (.300) in the Cal series last week.
Fresh off matching a school record and ranking 10th nationally with 19 home runs in 2008, junior catcher Rosey Neill is slugging away again this year. Neill belted three homers over the opening weekend, hit two in Oregon two weeks ago and leads the team with eight on the season. Just past the midpoint of her career, Neill now has 34 home runs, joining four of Stanford's greatest sluggers - Jessica Mendoza `02, Jessica Allister `04, Catalina Morris `06 and Michelle Smith `08 - as the only players to have hit 30 or more career homers. Neill is currently tied with Morris for third place on Stanford's career home run chart.
CHASING DOWN THE RECORDS
As juniors, Rosey Neill and Alissa Haber have their eyes on some of the school records set by the best player in Stanford history, two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza. Neill entered her junior year with 26 home runs (and now has 34). By comparison, Mendoza hit 36 of her 50 bombs by the end of her junior season. Midway through her junior year, Haber has 48 doubles to her name. Mendoza had 53 of her school-record 70 doubles by the end of her junior year.
HABER AMONG THE ELITE
All-American outfielder Alissa Haber currently owns a .385 career batting average, a clip which stands only behind that of two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza in the Cardinal record books. After leading Stanford in nearly every offensive category the last two years, Haber has twice earned All-America accolades. She is just the third player in school history to enter her junior year as a two-time All-American, matching the accomplishments of eventual four-time All-American Mendoza and eventual three-time All-American Dana Sorensen. Five players on the Cardinal squad are currently carrying career batting averages that would rank in the school's top-10.
1,000 AND COUNTING
Junior catcher Rosey Neill recorded her 1,000th career putout on Feb. 21, joining former greats Sarah Beeson `02, Kellie Wiginton `00 and Jessica Allister `04 as the only Cardinal players to reach the milestone. Battery counterpart Missy Penna reached the 1,000-K mark on March 1.
Stanford has played two extra-inning games this year, against Cal Poly on March 23 and against Washington on March 28. Stanford is 2-0 in those games, outscoring opponents 2-0 in extra frames.
...AND SHORT OF IT
Stanford has won six games by run-rule so far, with its most recent coming against Penn State on March 6.
Senior pitcher Missy Penna is among 10 collegiate softball players chosen as finalists for the 2009 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Each year, the award is presented to student-athletes who excel not only on the playing field but also in the classroom and in their community. Fans can vote for Missy through May 7 at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/softball_2009/.
TEAM USA PICKS
Freshman shortstop Ashley Hansen and sophomore outfielder Alissa Haber are among the 27 initial athletes invited to attend the 2009 USA Softball Women's National Team Selection Camp in Chula Vista, Calif., June 8-12. The list includes a number of current and former college standouts, as well as eight 2008 Olympians. Stanford alum Lauren Lappin `06, who won a silver medal with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics last summer, will also be attending the camp. Hansen, just 18 and a college freshman, is the youngest player on the invitee list.
STANFORD IN PAC-10 PLAY
Stanford enters the fourth week of conference play in sole possession of second place in the conference. The Cardinal won its only Pac-10 title in 2005, tying for the conference crown with a 13-8 record. Since going to a 21-game schedule in 2000, 13-win conference seasons in 2004 and 2005 have been the team's best. Stanford finished fourth in the Pac-10 last year with an 11-10 conference record.
Series Record: Stanford is 5-44-1 (.110) against the Wildcats all-time.Last Meeting: In a showdown for third place in the Pac-10 on May 10 of last year, Arizona won a 6-1 decision. The Wildcats scored six runs on seven hits, while the Cardinal could only plate one on eight hits. Alissa Haber went 3-for-4 with a triple to pace the Cardinal offense, while Jenae Leles matched her effort on the Wildcat side with three hits.
Last Stanford Victory: The Cardinal stunned the then-No. 4 Wildcats on April 28, 2007, 3-2. After Stanford fell behind early, Tricia Aggabao ripped the game-winning two-RBI single down the right line in the fifth inning and Stanford held on for the win.
Series Wins: Arizona swept the series with the Cardinal last season. Stanford has never taken the series between the two schools.
Current Streak: Arizona has won the last three in a row against Stanford.
Scouting Report: The Wildcats (33-9, 5-2 Pac-10) currently sit atop the Pac-10 standings, having won five of their seven conference games. Arizona is arguably the best offensive team in the nation, leading the country in batting average (.351), scoring (8.76), home runs per game (2.29) and slugging percentage (.670). Junior catcher Stacie Chambers leads the offensive charge, pacing the nation with 24 home runs and 74 RBI. Chambers (.413) is just one of three .400 hitters on the team however, as sophomores Brittany Lastrapes (.444) and Lauren Schutzler (.447) both have been very consistent as well. In the circle, new faces are getting some time after the departure of All-American Taryne Mowatt. Junior Sarah Akamine carries the best ERA (2.50) in the team's trio of pitchers, while senior transfer Jennifer Martinez has fanned 78 batters in 74 innngs and carries a team-low .258 opposing average.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE
Series Record: Stanford trails Arizona State 20-27 all-time.
Last Meeting: In one thrilling night, Missy Penna struck out a then school-record 17 batters, broke the school's single-season strikeout record, matched the school's single-season win record and carried Cardinal to a 2-1, 10-inning upset of eventual national champion Arizona State at Farrington Stadium. Melisa Koutz couldn't have picked a better time for her first collegiate homerun, belting the game-winner in the top of the 10th. The May 8 loss was the last suffered by ASU before winning the 2008 national title.
Last Arizona State Victory: On March 30, 2008, Arizona State outlasted Stanford in a 13-inning marathon to win 3-0. Senior Jackie Vasquez stepped up with the game-winning home run in the top of the 13th.
Series Wins: Arizona State took two of three last year to win the series. The Sun Devils last swept the Cardinal in 2007. Stanford most recently won the series in 2005 and last swept the Sun Devils in 2004.
Current Streak: Stanford won the last time the two teams played.
Scouting Report: The Sun Devils (34-8, 4-3 Pac-10) and ranked among the nation's top-10 teams in both major softball polls, and currently stand third behind the Cardinal in the Pac-10 standings. Leading the way offensively for ASU is two-time defending Pac-10 Player Kaitlin Cochran, who has hit home runs on 17 of her 100 at-bats, driven in 50 runs and been walked 41 times. She reaches base (.627) and slugs (1.060) better than any player in the country. Newcomers Kaylyn Castillo (.378) and Katelyn Boyd (.374) are also hitting well for the offensively-powerful Sun Devils, who rank among the nation's top three in batting average, scoring and slugging percentage. In the circle, rookie Hillary Bach has taken over as the team's top pitcher. The freshman owns a 2.71 ERA with 102 K's and a 19-3 record.
LITTLE LEAGUE DAY COMING UP!
Stanford will host Little League Day on April 25 against Oregon State at Smith Family Stadium. Little Leaguers, their parents and local league volunteers are encouraged to attend the game. The players will come dressed in their Little League uniform jerseys, and following the game will be permitted on to the field to meet the Stanford players and coaches. For more information, contact Daniella Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT COULD HAPPEN AGAINST THIS WEEKEND...
PENNA, 1 WIN - Missy Penna is one win away from becoming the seventh-winningest pitcher in Pac-10 history and the 23rd-winningest in NCAA history. One win would also tie her for fourth place on Stanford's single-season chart. Two wins would tie her for 22nd in NCAA history and third on Stanford's single-season list.
PENNA, 1 SHUTOUT - Penna needs just one more shutout this year to match her own school single-season record (15) set in 2008. She needs two shutouts to break that record.
PENNA, 6 K's - Penna needs 6 K's to join the NCAA's 25 all-time leaders.
PENNA, 4 K's - Penna needs 4 K's to tie the program's career strikeout record held by Dana Sorensen.
HABER, 1 DOUBLE - Haber needs one double to tie for fifth place on Stanford's single-season double list. She is two doubles short of hitting 50 for her career (would be just the third Stanford player ever to do so).
HABER, 2 STEALS - Haber needs just two more steals to hit 30 for her career. Only four other Stanford players have ever tallied that many.
COON, 2 DOUBLES - Coon needs just two doubles to join teammate Alissa Haber as one of the top five double-hitters in program history.
NEILL, 1 HR - Rosey Neill needs one more home run to take sole possession of third place on Stanford's career home run list.
With just five upperclassmen, the Cardinal is, for the most part, a very young team. Yet, the squad is armed with some of the Pac-10's most talented veterans at key positions. All five upperclassmen - Missy Penna, Maddy Coon, Shannon Koplitz, Alissa Haber and Rosey Neill - have been starters since the day they arrived on The Farm. The group has also been well decorated, accumulating 10 All-Pac-10 awards, six all-region honors and three All-America nods. Before the 2009 season even began, the fivesome has already combined to score 329 Cardinal runs, notch 531 hits and belt 73 home runs.
2008 IN REVIEW
Stanford is coming off a strong 2008 season in which it went 49-15 and finished fourth in the competitive Pac-10 Conference. The program posted its 10th 40-win season, recorded the second-most wins in school history, made its 11th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and made a postseason run to its third NCAA Super Regional in four years. At the end of the year, eight players were honored with All-Pac-10 awards, four received all-region recognition and two - pitcher Missy Penna and outfielder Alissa Haber - were named All-Americans.
TEAM USA TIES
Head Coach John Rittman spent last summer on the coaching staff for the USA Team at the Beijing Olympic Games, marking his second appearance on the Olympic coaching staff. Two former Cardinal standouts, Jessica Mendoza `02 and Lauren Lappin `06, were on the squad that outscored opponents 58-5 over nine games and captured the silver medal. Current players Rosey Neill, Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen are all veterans of the USA Junior National Team, and Hansen was the only high school player selected to participate in Team USA's Olympic Selection Camp in 2007.