March 21, 2012
THIS WEEK: The ninth-ranked Stanford softball team (25-3) plays host to Bay Area rival No. 2 California (26-1) for a three-game series to open the Pac-12 Conference season at Smith Family Stadium. The teams will square off on Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. The series will continue on Saturday, March 24 at 1 p.m. and conclude on Sunday, March 25 at Noon.
CATCH THE CARDINAL: Fans can follow this week’s games on Gametracker available on www.GoStanford.com. Live updates will also be available on Twitter @StanfordSball. Friday’s game will be televised by Fox Sports Net on a tape-delayed basis. Check local listings for game times in your area.
UP NEXT: The Cardinal will host Santa Clara on Tuesday, March 27 at 6 p.m. in a mid-week contest. Stanford will then continue Pac-12 play on the road at No. 13/14 Arizona March 30-Apr. 1 in Tucson.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH: Senior Ashley Hansen, a two-time All-American and the reigning collegiate player of the year, is one of 50 players selected to USA Softball’s preseason player of the year watch list. She has already solidified her place in Cardinal history, ranking in the top-10 in program history in career average (.407), hits (270), doubles (74), triples (13), RBI (163), slugging percentage (.640) and runs scored (166).
GERHART IN THE CIRCLE: Junior Teagan Gerhart has reached the 20-win plateau in each of her first three seasons on The Farm. She is 68-20 overall with a 1.63 career ERA. With 537 strikeouts to her name, she ranks fourth all-time in program history. She is fifth in shutouts with 18.
Jenna Rich FILE: Junior Jenna Rich is hitting .467 on the season and leads the Cardinal with 36 RBI, nine doubles, three triples and four home runs. Her .515 on-base percentage also leads the team, while her .767 slugging percentage is eighth in the Pac-12.
LAST CHANCE: Senior Jenna Becerra is making the most of her final season on The Farm. She is hitting a career-best .375 on the season and has already surpassed her single season bests in hits (27) and doubles (6). She also has two triples on the year, the firsts of her career.
STATISTICAL LEADER: Junior pitcher Teagan Gerhart leads the country in victories this season with 20. She tops the conference in innings pitched (124.2) and appearances (22), while ranking third in strikeouts (114) and fourth in opposing batting average (.161).
ROOKIE DEBUTS: All eight freshmen on the Cardinal roster made their debuts in the season opener against Cal State Northridge. Rookies Leah White and Hanna Winter have started all 28 games this season and are leading the team offensively. Pitcher Nyree White has made 19 appearances in the circle, posting a 2.46 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 54.0 innings pitched.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior pitcher Teagan Gerhart nabbed Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and USA Softball National Player of the Week on Feb. 28 for her performance at the Cathedral City Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. She registered five wins in the circle to lead the Cardinal to an undefeated weekend. She posted a 0.22 ERA, allowing just one run in 31.2 innings pitched. She tallied 30 strikeouts, including the 500th of her career, and issued just four walks and 12 hits.
ALL-CONFERENCE RETURNERS: Stanford had six players selected to the all-conference teams in 2011. Five of those players return to the roster this season, including senior Ashley Hansen and Sarah Hassman, juniors Teagan Gerhart and Jenna Rich and sophomore Corey Hanewich.
IN THE POLLS: Stanford remains ranked this week in both major polls. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade, is ranked No. 9 in both the USA Today/NFCA poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 after going undefeated at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic. Seven of the nine Pac-12 schools appeared in the top-25 of both polls.
SOLID VETERANS: With seven upperclassmen on a roster of 21, the Cardinal is still a fairly young squad. However, the team’s veteran’s look to continue their production and success at several key positions. The seniors, Jenna Becerra, Maya Burns, Ashley Hansen and Sarah Hassman, have been to two super regionals and were a part of the 2009 squad which posted the best winning percentage in school history (.814). Combined with the juniors, Kelsey Gerhart, Teagan Gerhart and Jenna Rich, the upperclassmen have combined to produce 477 runs, 692 hits and 381 RBI and 424 strikeouts entering the 2012 season. Led by Hansen, the group contains a conference and national player of the year, two All-America honors, six all-conference accolades and seven all-region selections.
PRESEASON PICKS: Stanford was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 this season in the annual poll of the league’s coaches. 2011 National Champion Arizona State garnered six first-place votes to sit at the top of the poll. California earned two first-place votes and came in second, while Arizona snagged the final first-place vote for third. UCLA was picked just ahead of the Cardinal at fourth. Washington, Oregon, Oregon State and conference newcomer Utah rounded out the poll.
2011 IN REVIEW: Stanford is coming off a 42-17 season in which it finished fifth in the Pac-10 Conference and was one win shy of advancing to the Women’s College World Series. Stanford, which made its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament and fifth super regional appearance in the last seven years, finished with a No. 10 national ranking. Infielder Ashley Hansen became the program’s first national player of the year after being named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year and a First Team All-American by the NFCA. Teagan Gerhart, Sarah Hassman and Jenna Rich joined Hansen on the All-West Region and All-Pac-10 Conference teams.
TEAM USA TIES: Head coach John Rittman was a member of the United States National Team coaching staff from 2001-08. In 2010, four players with ties to the Cardinal program helped the U.S. capture the World Championship in Venezuela. Competing for the red, white and blue were Stanford alums Alissa Haber, Lauren Lappin and Jessica Mendoza, and current Cardinal infielder Ashley Hansen. The alums were also a part of the United State’s World Cup title in Oklahoma City.
HEAD COACH John Rittman: In his 16th season at the helm of the Cardinal program, head coach John Rittman is one of the winningest coaches in collegiate softball, boasting a 662-295-3 (.691) career record. Since stepping onto the Farm in July 1996, he has coached the team to 15 consecutive winning seasons, 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 12 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 (2001 & 2004).
SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: Cal enters Pac-12 play with a 26-1 overall record and a No. 2 national ranking in both polls. As a team, the Bears are fifth in the nation in scoring (7.27), seventh in batting average (.352), 10th in ERA (1.08), 11th in home runs per game (1.23) and 12th in fieldin percentage (.976). Cal is led by senior pitcher/utility player Valerie Arioto, who is hitting .450 with 11 home runs and 35 RBI. She is 12-0 in the circle with a 0.89 ERA and 90 strikeouts. Senior outfielder Jamia Reid leads Cal with 39 hits and tops the conference with 21 stolen bases (sixth nationally). Junior pitcher Jolene Henderson is 14-1 with a 0.99 ERA. She has racked up 119 strikeouts in 92.1 innings pitched.
THE SERIES AGAINST THE GOLDEN BEARS: Stanford is 24-34 all-time against California. The Golden Bears took the series last season, 2-1, in Berkeley, Calif. The Cardinal won the series in 2010 on The Farm, also 2-1, picking up a 12-inning win in the opener and a 5-1 victory in game two.