Feb. 29, 2012
THIS WEEK:No. 10/11 Stanford (13-3) remains on the road this week, travelling to Fullerton, Calif., for the DeMarini Invitational Mar. 2-4. The Cardinal will play five games over the three-day span at the tournament, hosted by Cal State Fullerton.
THE SCHEDULE: Stanford will open the weekend with a double-header on Friday, Mar. 2 against Indiana and Northwestern, starting at 11 a.m. The Cardinal will face Florida International at 3:45 p.m. PT on Saturday, Mar. 3. Stanford wraps-up the weekend against Michigan State and East Carolina on Sunday, Mar. 4 beginning at 11:15 a.m. PT.
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.
UP NEXT: Stanford will play a mid-week game at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday, Mar. 7 before hosting the Louisville Slugger Classic, Mar. 9-11 at Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal will play six games at its final home tournament against Ole Miss (twice), James Madison, Colorado State, Cal Poly and San Jose State.
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 (253), doubles (70), triples (12), RBI (152), slugging percentage (.646) and runs scored (154).
GERHART IN THE CIRCLE: Junior Teagan Gerhart has reached the 20-win plateau in each of her first two seasons on The Farm. She is 61-20 overall with a 1.68 career ERA. With 505 strikeouts to her name, she ranks fourth all-time in program history. She is fifth in shutouts with 17.
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 16 games this season and are leading the team offensively. Pitcher Nyree White has made 11 appearances in the circle, posting a 3.50 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 20.0 innings pitched.
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, moved up to No. 11 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and to No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25 after going undefeated last week at the Cathedral City 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 650-295-3 (.687) 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).
SERIES RECORDS: Stanford holds a winning record of three of this week’s opponents. The Cardinal is 2-0 versus Indiana, 1-0 against Florida International and 1-0 versus East Carolina. Stanford is 4-6 (.400) overall versus Northwestern, but defeated the Wildcats twice last season in a double-header at home. The Cardinal is also 0-1 against Michigan State.
SCOUTING INDIANA: Indiana is 7-7 overall heading into this weekend’s games and has won five of its last six. The Hoosiers boast six players who have recorded double-digit hits so far this season, led by sophomore Jenna Abraham with 17, including five doubles, a triple and three home runs. Senior Cassie Gogreve leads the squad with 14 RBI, while senior Samatha Berenter paces the team with a .429 average. Indiana relies on its underclassmen in the circle as sophomore Meaghan Murphy and freshman Lora Olson have split time. Murphy is 2-2 with a 4.57 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, while Olson (5.21 ERA) is 5-5 with 34 Ks in 47.0 innings.
SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN: The Wildcats enter the weekend at 5-8 overall, having played seven of its first 13 games against ranked opponents. Most recently, Northwestern defeated No. 11 Missouri, 7-1. The Wildcats are led by junior Emiliy Allard, who has tallied 25 hits, 10 RBI and a .481 batting average. Sophomore Marisa Bast is hitting .395 with 15 hits, including two doubles, two triples and two home runs. She paces the squad, along with Olivia Duehr, with 14 RBI. In the circle, freshman Amy Letourneau leads the team with 37 strikeouts in 34.1 innings, while junior Meghan Lamberth is 2-2 with a 3.23 ERA and 18 strikeouts.
SCOUTING FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: The Panthers are 7-7 heading into this week’s games. FIU has outscored its opponents 64-39, while hitting .244 as a team. Senior Ashley McClain leads the Panthers with 15 hits, including three doubles, a triple and two home runs to go with nine RBI and a .667 slugging percentage. Junior Beth Peller has 14 hits, seven RBI and four stolen bases, while junior Kayla Burri also has double-digit hits (13) and six RBI. In the circle, sophomore Mariah Dawson is 5-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched. Senior Jenn Gniadek is 2-4 with a 2.60 ERA and 22 strikeouts.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans have started the season 3-9 overall, including a 6-4 win over Tulsa in their most recent outing. Michigan State is led by junior Kylene Hopkins who is hitting .355. She paces the team with 11 hits and five RBI. Sophomore Sarah Bowling has tallied eight RBI and five hits, including two doubles and a home run. In the circle, rookie Carly Nielsen holds a 3.95 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 28.1 innings, while sophomore Cassee Layne is 2-2 overall with 13 Ks.
SCOUTING EAST CAROLINA: East Carolina stands at 7-6 on the season and is led by its underclassmen. Sophomores Jill Jelnick and Alex Fieldhouse lead the team offensively, while rookies Courtney Smith and Sarah Christian have split time in the circle. Jelnick is hitting .355 with 11 hits and six RBI, while Fieldhouse has 12 hits and 10 RBI. Smith is 2-3 overall with a 2.98 ERA and 18 strikeouts. Christian is 5-3 with a 3.65 ERA and 11 strikeouts.