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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 12, 2013

Stanford hopes to fatten batting averages vs. Huskies

Ogwumike named to a fourth All-American team; Watson wins another golf title and Rich celebrates her birthday with two homers in a softball victory

by Rick Eymer

Palo Alto resident Alex Blandino has put together a modest four-game hitting streak as the No. 23 Stanford baseball team prepares to host Washington in a three-game Pac-12 Conference series that begins Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Games Saturday and Sunday are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Blandino is hitting .241 overall, which may not sound like much, but compared to the .203 batting average he had before starting the streak, it looks rather cozy.

He'll get a chance to continue his improvement against a Washington pitching staff that ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with a 3.77 ERA.

Stanford, on the other hand, has the benefit of a 2.80 team ERA, third in the conference. Cardinal pitchers average a Pac-12 leading 8.4 strikeouts a game and a conference low 2.7 walks.

Blandino hit .389 (7 for 28) during his current hot streak, driving in three runs and scoring seven times for Stanford (5-4, 17-10), which rests in fourth place in the conference behind Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA.

Blandino's current batting average is only slightly less than that of the Huskies (2-7, 8-22) as a team. Washington ranks last in the Pac-12 with its .244 batting average and averages a conference low 3.4 runs a game.

The Huskies are also last with 34 doubles, two triples and six home runs. They are also 4-18 on the road this season.

Stanford's team average of .263 ranks seventh in the conference and its 4.4 runs per game is better than only the Huskies.

The Cardinal has scored 120 runs this year, with Washington (103) the only Pac-12 team scoring fewer runs. Stanford is the second-toughest team in the conference to strike out though.

Stanford's pitching, and its timely hitting, have helped keep the Cardinal in contention. Since losing six of seven, Stanford has won six of its past eight, including four of five.

Washington enters the series on a three-game losing streak and have lost six of its past eight.

Stanford's Justin Ringo also has a four-game hitting streak intact (7 of 18) and leads the Cardinal with a .319 batting average (with a minimum of 68 plate appearances). Austin Slater is the only other qualified hitter over .300 at .317. Menlo School grad Danny Diekroeger is third at .276.

Brant Whiting, who helped Stanford beat host USC in two of three games last weekend, is hitting .412 and will likely join the top hitters once he qualifies (he's about 10 at-bats short).

Women's basketball

Stanford junior forward Chiney Ogwumike was named to the WBCA Coaches' All-America Team for the second straight year, the organization announced during the weekend in New Orleans.

It was the fourth All-America Team that Ogwumike has been named to over the past week. She earned first-team Associated Press honors as well as being named to the USBWA and John R. Wooden Award All-America Teams.

Women's golf

Stanford's Sally Watson carded a 4-over-par 220 for an eight-stroke victory in the Sonoma State Spring Invitational that concluded Tuesday at the Foxtail Golf Club (North Course) in Rohnert Park.

Watson (77-70-73) posted the lowest scores in the second and third round to lead and clinch the tournament. The senior locked her third collegiate title after previously winning the 2011 WSU Cougar Cup and the 2010 Peg Barnard Invitational.

Watson joined teammates Marissa Mar and Kristina Wong. All three competed as individuals in the 10-team field with 63 players.

After being injured through the past four tournaments, Mar (76-74-78) made her spring debut and carded a 228 for second place in the 54-hole event.

Gymnastics

The Stanford men's team received the No. 4 seed for the 2013 NCAA Championships hosted by Penn State on April 19-21, as announced Wednesday by the NCAA.

This will be Stanford's 15th consecutive appearance and 30th overall at the NCAA Championships, as it pursues its sixth national title.

Meanwhile, the Stanford women's team received the No. 9 overall seed for the NCAA Championships, which begin April 19 at UCLA. The Cardinal finished second at last Saturday's NCAA Regional meet in Norman, Okla.

Softball

Jenna Rich sure knows how to celebrate a birthday. The senior shortstop hit two home runs on her special day Wednesday to help the Cardinal beat visiting San Jose State, 7-1, in a nonconference contest. Rich has hit five of her 39 career home runs on her birthday.

The Cardinal (28-12) takes the weekend off and will host St. Mary's next Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Rich was 3-for-4, adding a single and driving in two runs. The game marked the third straight year in which she has hit a homer on her birthday and the second consecutive two-home run output.

Her 39 homers ties former Cardinal catcher Rosey Neill for third all-time, one behind Michelle Smith for second place. Three-time Olympian and four-time Stanford All-American Jessica Mendoza holds the record with 50.

Rich also has driven in 195 runs, six shy of tying Sarah Beeson for first on Stanford's all-time RBI list.

Men's tennis

Stanford will need a strong finish to qualify for the NCAA tournament after dropping a 5-2 decision to visiting Pepperdine on Wednesday.

The Cardinal (8-9 overall) plays its final four regular-season matches at home, beginning with Friday's contest with Arizona and following Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. match against Utah. Stanford also has matches against Pacific and California next week.

Stanford can only make it to the NCAA tournament with at least a .500 record. The Cardinal has participated in the past 24 NCAA tournaments, and has missed the postseason only twice since the current format began in 1977.

The Cardinal singles ladder currently consists of thee freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. Senior Matt Kandath, who was playing at the No. 2 spot, has not played since Feb. 9 because of a broken arm.

Stanford, with Bradley Klahn, Ryan Thacher and a healthy Kandath, finished 20-9 and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAAs last year.

Women's tennis

Nationally No. 13 Stanford finishes the season on the road, with matches at Arizona on Friday and at No. 21 Arizona State on Saturday. The Cardinal (6-1, 14-3) is at California next Friday.

Stanford's No. 1 singles player Nicole Gibbs is a day-to-day decision as far as her availability. She should be fully ready by the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, which begin April 25.

Men's volleyball

No. 8 Stanford (11-11, 14-11) has two home matches to finish the regular season, hosting Cal Baptist Friday at 7 p.m. and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation leader BYU on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Cardinal currently owns the sixth seed for the MPSF tournament, and could move as high as fifth with two wins and two Pepperdine losses.

Stanford is coming off a straight-set victory over host UC San Diego last weekend, in which Eric Mochalski hit .533 and recorded 10 kills.

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