May 8, 2012
THIS WEEK:The No. 15 Stanford softball team (36-16, 9-12 Pac-12) will close out the regular season at Utah (26-26, 1-20), May 10-12. The Cardinal and Utes will play at 4 p.m. MT on Thursday and Friday, and at Noon on Saturday.
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 learn its postseason fate on Sunday, May 13. The announcements will be made on ESPNU at 7 p.m. PT.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR WATCH: Senior Ashley Hansen, a two-time All-American and the reigning collegiate player of the year, is one of 25 players selected to USA Softball’s 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 (.400), hits (290), doubles (78), triples (17), RBI (176), slugging percentage (.637) and runs scored (185).
GERHART IN THE CIRCLE: Junior Teagan Gerhart has reached the 20-win plateau in each of her first three seasons on The Farm and is third all-time in program history. She is 78-29 overall with a 2.04 career ERA. With 603 strikeouts to her name, she ranks third all-time in school history. She is fifth in shutouts with 22.
Jenna Rich FILE: Junior Jenna Rich is hitting .370 on the season and leads the Cardinal with 59 RBI and nine home runs and a .660 slugging percentage, while ranking second in doubles (12) and triples (4). Her 59 RBI are the third-most by a Pac-12 player this season and ranks second all-time on the school’s single season list.
LAST CHANCE: Senior Jenna Becerra is making the most of her final season on The Farm. She is hitting a career-best .343 on the season and has already surpassed her single season bests in hits (47) and doubles (13). She also has two triples on the year, the firsts of her career. Against Oregon State, Becerra became the first Cardinal player to hit grand slams in consecutive games.
LEADING THE CONFERENCE: Rookies Hanna Winter and Leah White, Stanford’s lead-off and No. 2 hitters, are quickly making a name for themselves in the Pac-12. Winter leads all conference players with 78 hits and is fourth with a .429 batting average. White tops the Pac-12 with 10 sacrifice bunts and is fourth with 49 runs scored.
STATISTICAL LEADER: Junior pitcher Teagan Gerhart ranks fourth in the country in victories this season with 30, the fourth-most in a single season at Stanford. She tops the conference in wins, innings pitched (225.0), while ranking fourth in strikeouts (180).
19 IN A ROW: Stanford’s longest winning streak of the season is 19 games, which ran from Feb. 18 to March 11. During that span, the Cardinal outscored its opponents 129-28, posted 10 shutouts and earned five run-rule victories.
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 52 games this season and are leading the team offensively. Pitcher Nyree White has made 30 appearances in the circle, posting a 4.16 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 104.1 innings pitched.
LOWE’S SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior Ashley Hansen has been named one of the 10 finalists for the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. She is one of four representatives from the Pac-12 Conference. The finalists were chosen from a list of 30 candidates based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete - classroom, community, character and competition.
PITCHER 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. Gerhart also nabbed Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week on May 7 after going 3-0 with two shutouts against then-No. 14 Washington.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Freshman outfielder Cassandra Roulund secured Stanford’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week honors on May 7. She hit .600, scored six runs and tallied eight RBI during a four-game stretch. She tallied a season-high five RBI against Santa Clara (5/1).
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 in both major polls. The Cardinal, which has appeared in every regular-season poll for more than a decade, is ranked No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 19 the ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. 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 States' 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 677-310-3 (.685) 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 UTAH: Utah enters the final weekend of the regular season with a 26-26 overall record. The Utes have won just one Pac-12 Conference game this season, an 8-6 victory over Oregon State. As a team, Utah is posting a .285 team batting average and a 3.17 team ERA. Offensively, senior Whitney Holm leads the squad with a .376 batting average, 56 hits, including 10 doubles, a triple and eight home runs, and 39 RBI. Juniors Katelyn Elliott and Jackie Sweet have combined for 80 hits (14 doubles and 14 home runs) and 52 RBI. In the circle, senior pitcher Generra Nielson is 19-16 overall and leads the Pac-12 with 268 strikeouts.
THE SERIES AGAINST THE UTES: Stanford and Utah will meet for the first time as conference foes this week. The Cardinal holds a 6-1 (.857) all-time record against the Utes. The most recent meeting between the two schools came during the 2007 season at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Stanford defeated Utah, 5-2, on the opening day of the season.