No. 11/13 Cardinal Hosts Stanford Nike Invitational

Feb. 17, 2010

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Tournament Central

THIS WEEK: The No. 11/13 Cardinal (4-1) will host the Stanford Nike Invitational, Feb. 19-21, at Smith Family Stadium. Stanford will play five games over the weekend, as it hosts Illinois, UC Riverside, Nevada, Sacramento State and No. 17/19 Fresno State.

Friday, February 19
10 a.m. - Illinois vs. Sacramento State
12:15 p.m. - Sacramento State vs. UC Riverside
2:30 p.m. - Illinois at Stanford
4:45 p.m. - UC Riverside at Stanford

Saturday, February 20
9 a.m. - Nevada vs. Sacramento State
11:15 a.m. - Nevada at Stanford
1:30 p.m. - Sacramento State at Stanford

3:45 p.m. - Fresno State vs. Illinois
6 p.m. - Illinois vs. UC Riverside
8:15 p.m. - UC Riverside vs. Fresno State

Sunday, February 21
9 a.m. - Nevada vs. Illinois
11:15 a.m. - UC Riverside vs. Nevada
1:30 p.m. - Sacramento State vs. Fresno State
3:45 p.m. - Fresno State at Stanford

UP NEXT: Stanford will hit the road again next week, traveling to Palm Spring, Calif., for the Cathedral City Classic hosted by Oregon State. The Cardinal will play six games, including three against ranked opponents. Seven of the eight Pac-10 Conference teams will participate in the prestigous tournament.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON...: Stanford’s Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen were among the 50 players named to the initial USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. The 50 picks represent 35 different schools and 14 different conferences. Haber and Hansen were two of the 12 selections from the Pac-10. Last season, Haber and senior Missy Penna were both among the 50 preseason picks as well. Penna joined Hansen on the top 25 list last year, and Penna went on to be one of the 10 finalists.

IN THE POLLS: This week, Stanford dropped on spot in both the USA Today/NFCA poll and the Softball top-25, coming in at No. 11 and No. 13, respectively. The Cardinal has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade. Six of the eight Pac-10 schools appeared in both polls, with as many as four appearing in the top-10.

QUICK WINS: Stanford opened the 2010 season with two run-rule five-inning wins at the Paradise Softball Classic in Honolulu. The Cardinal upended Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 10-2, in the season opener on Feb. 11. The next day, Stanford shut out McNeese State, 9-0, in game two of the tournament.

HARD TO HANDLE: All-American outfielder Alissa Haber entered her senior season with a .395 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 three years, Haber is a three-time All-American. She joins Mendoza as the only players in school history to enter their senior year as a three-time All-American. So far in 2010, Haber is hitting .438 with seven hits on 16 at-bats. She has tallied five runs, a double and a home run on 11 total bases to slug .688.

BEHIND THE PLATE: Rosey Neill returns for her senior season as the two-time Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Her .992 career fielding percentage ranks second in Cardinal history as does her 1,410 putouts. Offensively, she will be looked upon to provide power in the middle of the lineup. For her career she is hitting .335 and has collected 121 RBI, 36 home runs and a .612 slugging percentage.

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE: Ashley Hansen returns to the infield for the Cardinal this season after posting one of the most decorated rookie seasons on The Farm. Hansen became the school’s second Pac-10 Freshman of the Year after recording an astonishing .400 batting average, which included a team-leading 55 RBI and five triples as well as 84 hits, 26 doubles and four homers. She was the only freshman named to the All-Pac-10 team and garnered Second Team All-America honors. This season, Hansen has scored a team-high seven runs, while tallying five hits and three RBI.

IN THE CIRCLE: Junior Ashley Chinn and freshman Teagan Gerhart split time in the circle for the Cardinal at the Paradise Softball Classic. Chinn carries a 26-6 overall record with a 2.28 ERA. She has thrown 27 complete games, including nine shutouts. Gerhart pitched 14.0 innings over the opening weekend, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.00 ERA. The rookie pitched her first complete-game shut out versus McNeese State in a 9-0 run-rule victory. Freshman Jenna Rich could also pitch some innings for Stanford this season.

ROOKIE DEBUT: Freshman Jenna Rich got off to a stellar start during her collegiate debut. Rich averaged a .444 batting average, tallying eight hits, including three home runs and a double, six RBI and 18 total bases to slug for 1.000. Her first career home run came in the season opener against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, the short stop belted a two-run walk-off homer to end the game in the fifth inning. Two days later, also against the Islanders, Rich hit a pair of long balls on consecutive at-bats to lead Stanford to a 5-2 win.

SOLID VETERANS: With seven upperclassmen on its roster of 20, the Cardinal is still a fairly young team. However, the team’s veterans look to continue their production and success at several key positions. Seniors Alissa Haber, Shannon Koplitz, and Rosey Neill have been starters since their first year on The Farm, and enter their senior season with experience and leadership. Along with juniors Autumn Albers, Ashley Chinn, Melisa Koutz, and Brittany Minder, these veterans look to improve upon their two straight NCAA Super Regional appearances in 2010. Together the juniors and seniors combined to produce 360 runs, 583 hits and 72 homeruns entering this season. Along with Haber’s three All-America nods, this group of veterans has garnered seven All-Pac 10 awards, five all-region honors and various team awards.

PRESEASON PICKS: Stanford was selected to finish in a tie for fourth with Arizona State in the Pac-10 this season in the annual poll of the league’s coaches. Washington, the 2009 National Champions was chosen in the top spot, while Arizona and UCLA finished ahead of the Cardinal.

2009 IN REVIEW: Stanford is coming off a strong 2009 season, in which it went 48-11 and finished fourth in the competitive Pac-10 Conference. The program posted its 11th 40-win season, recorded the best winning percentage (.814) in school history, made its 12th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and made a postseason run to its fourth NCAA Super Regional in five years. At the end of the year, eight players were honored with All-Pac-10 awards, four received all-region recognition and three - pitcher Missy Penna, outfielder Alissa Haber and infielder Ashley Hansen - were named All-Americans.

TEAM USA TIES: Head Coach John Rittman was a member of the United States National Team coaching staff from 2001-08. During the summer of 2009, current Stanford players Alissa Haber and Ashley Hansen competed for the red, white and blue in the Canada Cup and the World Cup of Softball in Oklahoma City. Haber also helped the team win gold at the Japan Cup, while Hansen was a part of the team that won gold in the Pan Am Qualifier in Venezuela. Both Haber and Hansen will join former Cardinal standouts Lauren Lappin and Jessica Mendoza on the U.S. National Team in 2010.

HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 14th season at the helm of the Cardinal program, head coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 518-251-3 (.673) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 13 consecutive winning seasons, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 11 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.

SERIES RECORDS: Stanford is a combined 8-0 versus Illinois (3-0), UC Riverside (3-0) and Nevada (2-0), its first three opponents this weekend. The Cardinal’s most familiar foe is Sacramento State as it is 22-6 (.786) all-time against the Hornets. The last meeting between the two programs was last season, also at the Stanford Nike Invitational, a 6-1 Cardinal victory. Stanford holds a 12-7 overall record against Fresno State. The two teams last met in the Stanford Regional in 2007.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS: Illinois opened the 2010 season at the UNLV Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas, posting a 5-0 record on the weekend. The Illini are led by junior infielder Danielle Zymkowitz, who registered a team-high .563 batting average in the five games. Five Illinois players, including Zymkowitz hit over .400 as the Illini outscored their opponents 43-6. Sophomore Monica Perry registered a 3-0 record in the circle, striking out 10 batters in two complete games, while also registering a shutout.

SCOUTING UC RIVERSIDE: UC Riverside went 2-2 during its opening weekend of the 2010 season, splitting games with Boise State and San Diego. Sophomore Brittany Keeney led the Highlanders in the four games, posting a .500 average with a .857 slugging percentage and .500 on-base percentage. She totaled one run, seven hits, 11 RBI, one walk, two doubles, and one home run for the week, while committing zero errors on the field to earn her first-ever Big West Player of the Week honors. Senior pitcher Marissa Alvidrez picked up the two wins for the Highlanders.

SCOUTING NEVADA: The Wolfpack enters the weekend with a 2-3 record, earning wins over Oregon State and Northwestern at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Nevada is led by a pair of upperclassmen, senior third baseman Sam Bias and junior short stop Danielle Patrick. Bias leads the team with a .462 batting average, while Patrick sits just behind her at .417. The duo combined to post 11 hits, six RBI, two doubles and a triple. Senior pitcher Katie Holverson registered a 1-1 record, striking out 23 battersin 21.2 innings of work.

SCOUTING SACRAMENTO STATE: Sacramento State has started the 2010 season with a 2-4 record, with its two wins coming over Pacific at the Fresno State Softball Kick-Off. The Hornets were led by sophomore infielder Desiree Beltran, who hit .500, with five hits, four RBI and a home run. She recorded an .800 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage, while registering a 1.000 fielding percentage. Pitchers Megan Schaefer and Shelby Voelz each earned a win in SSU’s first six games.

SCOUTING FRESNO STATE: Fresno State comes to the Stanford Nike Invitational with a No. 17/19 national ranking. The Bulldogs were a perfect 6-0, marking their best start since 2001. Fresno State out scored its opponents 33-4 and out hit its competition .324 to .145. In the circle, Morgan Melloh picked up three complete-game wins during the opening weekend. She posted two shutouts, including her first career no-hitter. Melloh recorded a 0.35 ERA and allowed just one run in 20.0 innings of work. She also had 30 strikeouts on the week to earn her ninth WAC Pitcher of the Week honors. Offensively, the Bulldogs are led by sophomore Michelle Moses, who totaled eight hits, including one home run, six RBI and 11 total bases. The infielder tallied a .533 batting average, a .733 slugging percentage and recorded a team-high .650 on-base percentage.

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