A Look Back: 2010 Softball Season In Review

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June 18, 2010

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STANFORD, Calif. - The 2010 collegiate softball season is now in the books, and Stanford can look back on a year filled with team success, adversity and individual accomplishments.

The Cardinal was 37-19 (.661) and finished the season ranked No. 21 nationally. Additionally, the team made its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, hosting a regional for the fifth time since 2001, and tied for sixth in the nation's toughest conference with an 8-13 Pac-10 record.

The team began the season ranked No. 10 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. The Cardinal remained in the top-15 throughout the season, coming in as high as No. 8. Stanford has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade.

The team began the 2010 season with high expectations featuring a strong combination of experience and young talent. Playing on the road at the Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Hawai'i, Stanford won its first four games of the season, two by the run-rule, and faced host Hawai'i in the tournament championship. Despite falling to the Rainbow Wahine, the Cardinal opened the season with a 4-1 record and some freshmen showing true promise. Rookie shortstop Jenna Rich led the offense with eight hits, including a double and three home runs, scored five runs and added six RBI on the weekend. In her first collegiate game versus Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Rich was 3-3 and hit a two-run walk-off home run to end the game with a 10-2 run-rule victory in the fifth inning.

From there, the Cardinal returned to The Farm to host the Stanford Nike Invitational, where it was a perfect 4-0 on its home field. Stanford defeated Illinois, UC Riverside and Nevada in five innings, meaning five of the team's first eight wins of the season came by the run-rule. Senior Alissa Haber was fantastic, hitting .583 (7-12) to score four runs and tally eight RBI. Her hits included three doubles and a triple as she led the Cardinal with a .643 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage.

Carrying an 8-1 record, Stanford hit the road again for its next nine contests. The first stop was the Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Stanford opened the weekend with an 8-7 come-from-behind win over then-No. 21 Tennessee. The Lady Vols trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, where the future Women's College World Series participant scored five runs to take the lead. However, an RBI single by Rich in the sixth inning and a bases-loaded walk for Haber in the top of the seventh sealed the victory and pushed the Cardinal's record to 9-1.

Despite a set-back to 23rd-ranked Northwestern on the second day of the Cathedral City Classic, Stanford won its next three games and began the emergence of freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart as the team's ace was underway. Through the team's first 14 games, Gerhart had amassed 58 strikeouts, thrown three shutouts and posted a 7-1 record.

Up next for the Cardinal were four games at the DeMarini Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., starting with the nation's No. 3 team, the Florida Gators. It was the freshmen coming through once again for the Cardinal. Gerhart improved to 8-1 with a 2-0 shutout in which she allowed just two hits and issued one walk, while striking out five Gators. Offensively, Rich had a hand in both Cardinal runs, hitting an RBI single in the third inning and a solo home run in the fifth to give Stanford its second win over a ranked opponent in 2010.

Stanford went on to down Cal State Fullerton, 13-1, in five innings later that day. After a 3-0 set-back to North Carolina, Stanford concluded the tournament with a 4-0 victory over Indiana. The Cardinal would return to The Farm for a week off for finals before hosting its final two tournaments at Smith Family Stadium in preparation for Pac-10 play.

First up was the Stanford Louisville Classic, featuring games against Santa Clara, Princeton, Saint Mary's and Cal Poly. A star was born for the Cardinal that weekend as Gerhart threw three-consecutive no-hitters, starting with a perfect game on Mar. 19 against Santa Clara. Stanford was 5-0 on the weekend and Gerhart earned her first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor, while also sweeping the national player of the week awards. The rookie is the first player in Pac-10 history to throw three-straight no-hitters. Additionally, she hit .300 on the weekend, recording a double and her first collegiate home run and tallied three RBI.

The Cardinal's final home tournament of the preseason was the Stanford Invitational. The squad recorded a 4-1 record, pushing its overall mark to 25-4 (.862) heading into the Pac-10 Conference season. Haber led the team, hitting .562 (9-16) with two doubles, a triple and a home run to slug for 1.000. The outfielder was a double away from the cycle in a 2-1 decision over Cal State Bakersfield on Mar. 27. In the circle, Gerhart continued her dominance, registering a 0.97 ERA on the weekend. She struck out 27 batters and gave up just one walk and four runs in 29.0 innings of work. The Norco, Calif., native capped the weekend with a one-hitter versus Pacific on Mar. 28.

The 2010 season marked the first year in which Pac-10 teams would play a three-game conference series either at home or on the road. Stanford drew rival California at home to kick-off league play. The 14th-ranked Golden Bears pushed the Cardinal to 12 innings in game one, but a fielder's choice RBI by Rich scored Gerhart and Stanford came out on top, 1-0. The team's split the next two games giving the Cardinal its first series win over the Bears since 2008. Haber picked up Pac-10 Player of the Week accolades for her .455 hitting performance, which included two doubles, two RBI and two stolen bases.

The Cardinal then earned a 2-1 series victory at Oregon State, giving the squad a 4-2 start to the conference season and a 30-6 record overall. However, the next four Pac-10 series all came against top-10 teams - at No. 4 Arizona, No. 6 UCLA, No. 7 Arizona State and at No. 1 Washington.

An injury to the ace Gerhart challenged the Cardinal throughout the tough stretch. Stanford was swept by both Arizona and UCLA, but took a game from Arizona State at Smith Family Stadium. The 8-0 five-inning victory over the Sun Devils marked the first complete-game shutout for Rich. She went the distance, issuing just one walk and two hits. The El Segundo, Calif., native was also 3-3 with a double and four RBI in the contest.

The team finished the stretch in Seattle at top-ranked Washington. Despite being swept, two of the games against the defending national champions were decided by one run (the second game was in eight innings). Junior Ashley Chinn kept the Cardinal in the two games, holding a 1.58 ERA. The Belmont, Calif., native gave up just nine hits and three runs in 13.1 innings.

Stanford regrouped as it returned to The Farm. Its final Pac-10 series was at home versus No. 20 Oregon. The team came out rejuvenated, posting its first and only conference sweep of the year. On Senior Day, Haber became the school's all-time doubles leader, hitting her 71st of her career. That mark broke former Cardinal-great and two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza's eight-year-old record. Fellow senior Rosey Neill was also making the most of her final regular season action at Smith Family Stadium. The catcher was 5-9 (.556), including a double and a home run. She also turned in four RBI, two runs scored, two walks and 15 putouts. The weekend improved the team's conference record to 8-13, tying Oregon for a sixth-place finish in the Pac-10.

The Cardinal was 36-17 overall after the end of the regular season and scheduled to host the Stanford Regional. It was the fifth time in school history that the team would begin NCAA postseason play on its home field. As the sites No. 2 seed, the Cardinal welcomed the tournament's 16th overall seed Hawai'i, Texas Tech and UC Davis.

Stanford began the 2010 postseason run with a 5-4 victory over Texas Tech. Home runs by Haber and sophomore Jenna Becerra led the team to a 5-1 lead after five innings. However a three-run sixth inning by the Red Raiders turned up the pressure for Chinn in the final inning. The junior calmly retired TTU in order to seal the victory for Stanford.

The team dropped its next two games by identical 6-3 scores to Hawai'i and Texas Tech, ending the squad's season with a 37-19 overall record.

Haber led the Cardinal in nearly every offensive category for the third straight season, hitting a team-best .446, and pacing the team in hits (78), runs (50), triples (2), on-base percentage (.529), slugging percentage (.657) and stolen bases (23). Her batting average was second in the Pac-10 and 12th nationally.

Ashley Hansen, a returning All-American, turned in another successful season for the Cardinal. The sophomore led the nation with seven sacrifice flies and was second in the Pac-10 with 18 doubles. Hansen now has 42 career doubles in just two seasons, putting her 10th all-time in school history.

Despite her season being cut short, Gerhart made a name for herself in her debut season. Her 22 victories and 173 strikeouts are 10th-best in program history already, while her 11 shutouts rank sixth on the all-time list. Her 1.65 ERA was sixth in the Pac-10 and opponents hit just .176 off the rookie in 2010.

Haber was Stanford's lone All-American this season, joining Mendoza as the only four-time All-Americans in program history. She was a first team All-West Region pick for the third straight year. Hansen and Gerhart garnered second team All-West Region honors.

The Cardinal also collected its share of Pac-10 honors this season. Neill became the first player in conference history to be named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year for three straight seasons. Haber, a four-time conference pick, and Hansen were first team All-Pac-10 selections for the second straight season. Senior Shannon Koplitz earned second team honors for the second year in a row, while Neill, Gerhart and Rich earned honorable mention. Gerhart and Rich were also named to the All-Pac-10 Freshmen Team.

Haber became just the third player in program history to be named an Academic All-American. She was joined by Koplitz on the Academic All-District VIII First Team. Additionally, seven players were honored by the conference with All-Pac-10 academic awards.

When it was all said and done, the Cardinal said good-bye to three outstanding seniors who made immeasurable contributions to the Stanford program.

With 15 players returning, including an All-American and three All-Pac-10 picks, the focus for the Cardinal will be adding to its successes and achieving even greater heights in 2011.

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