Jan. 24, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford softball team earned the No. 9 ranking in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association preseason poll and the No. 10 spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, announced today by both organizations.
The Cardinal finished 2011 with a 42-17 record and advanced to the postseason for the 14th consecutive year. The team finished fifth in the always-competitive Pac-10 Conference and ended the year with a No. 10 final ranking in the two polls.
Stanford returns 11 letterwinners from last year's squad, including 2011 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Ashley Hansen. Also returning for the Cardinal are senior Sarah Hassman, junior Teagan Gerhart and junior Jenna Rich, who joined Hansen as NFCA First Team All-West Region picks and All-Pac-10 Conference selections in 2011.
Seven of the nine Pac-12 squads appeared in the top-20 of both polls. Defending national champion Arizona State has been ranked No.1 by both organizations. California (3/4), Arizona (8/8), Oregon (11/16), UCLA (13/19) and Washington (14/12) are the other conference teams in the rankings.
The Cardinal is scheduled to play 20 games against preseason top-25 teams this year, beginning with No. 15/17 Texas A&M at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 10, its second game on the opening day of the season. Stanford will also face No. 5/6 Oklahoma at the Cathedral City Classic on Feb. 24.
The Cardinal opens the season Friday, Feb. 10, versus Cal State Northridge at 9 a.m. MT at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.