Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 25, 2011

Cardinal tennis teams have double trouble

Not only are Pac-10 rivals USC and UCLA on tap, but both have to deal with inclement weather, as well

by Rick Eymer

The weather continues to wreck havoc for Stanford's spring sports. The undefeated and second-ranked Cardinal women's tennis team was the latest victim.

Stanford had its nonconference match against host Pepperdine suspended on Wednesday. It was tentatively rescheduled for completion Thursday before the Cardinal headed to Los Angeles for a pair of Pac-10 contests.

Singles competition opened Wednesday's match, with all six Stanford players winning their first set. Veronica Li came closest to finishing in regulation, leading 6-0, 4-0 when the rains came.

Three others had finished at least one game in the second set, with Hilary Barte and Nicole Gibbs enjoying slim leads. Kristie Ahn won her first set but is trailing in the second set.

Meanwhile, Stanford (2-0, 14-0) is scheduled for matches at UCLA on Friday and USC on Saturday.

UCLA was the only team to beat Stanford last year. The Cardinal has won 33 (34 if it holds on to beat the Waves) straight since dropping a 6-1 decision at UCLA last Feb. 26.

The USC match features the current No. 1- and No. 2-ranked singles player in the country. USC's Maria Sanchez has the top spot to Stanford's Hilary Barte.

Danielle Lao is ranked 25th for the Women of Troy. The Cardinal is also represented by Nicole Gibbs at 11th, Kristie Ahn at 21st and Mallory Burdette at 29th.

The No. 8-ranked Stanford men's team (8-4) is scheduled to host third-ranked USC on Friday at 1:30 p.m. and 13th-ranked UCLA at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Cardinal looks to end a rare losing streak, having dropped a match at USC on Feb. 26 and at Baylor, 5-2, on Tuesday.

Trojans' Steve Johnson is currently the nation's top-ranked singles player while Stanford's Bradley Klahn ranks tenth.

Klahn and Ryan Thacher rank sixth as a doubles team. UCLA's Nick Meister and Amit Inbar are ranked 23rd in the country.

Baseball

Stanford lost four games to rain this past week, including a weekend series against Michigan, which was cancelled.

Wednesday's game at Pacific was rescheduled to May 9 due to rain but the 12th-ranked Cardinal was able to beat visiting UC Davis, 3-2, on Monday and Santa Clara, 9-1, on Tuesday in the team's first games since March 6.

Stanford (8-5) returns to action hosts Long Beach State in a three-game weekend series beginning with Friday's 6 p.m. scheduled first pitch.

Mark Appel (1-2, 3.43 ERA) is expected to pitch against 49ers' Andrew Gagnon (2-3, 2.20 ERA).

Shortstop Kenny Diekroeger, a Menlo School grad, is hitting a team-best .426 with 11 RBI, while centerfielder Jake Stewart is hitting .333 with eight runs scored. Both players have hit safely in 11 of 12 games this season.

Fencing

Stanford participates at the NCAA championships this weekend at Ohio State. Action continues through Sunday.

Cardinal qualifiers include freshman Taylor Caldwell in the men's foil, sophomore Francesca Bassa and junior Ashley Titan in women's epee, freshman Jake Harbour and junior Kevin Mo in men's epee, senior Max Murphy in men's sabre, and freshman Meaghan Conway in women's foil.

"I feel like I've really picked it up the last couple of years," Caldwell said. "I'm looking forward to the NCAAs."

Men will fence a full round-robin (23 bouts; 5-touch) spanning the first two days, followed by the women on the weekend rounds. Each individual win in the round-robin counts one point to the team score. Top-four in each weapon will advance to individual medal rounds.

Bassa was named CollegeFencing360's Primetime Performer of the Week in February

Women's gymnastics

Seniors Shelley Alexander and Danielle Ikoma led a group of five Stanford athletes named to the All-Pac-10 Conference women's gymnastics team, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday.

The honor was the first for Ikoma, who earned the recognition for her performance in the all-around during her first season attempting the discipline.

She was among four Cardinal to be named to the first team. The others are Alexander (all-around), junior Alyssa Brown (balance beam), and sophomore Ashley Morgan (floor exercise).

Junior Nicole Pechanec earned her second consecutive second-team honor on floor.

Men's gymnastics

Stanford heads into its final regular season match at California as the top-ranked team in the nation.

The Bears, who host the meet Friday at 7 p.m., beat Stanford in the first meet of the season.

"This season has had its share of ups and downs," Stanford's Alex Buscaglia said. "We've gotten some great team scores, and we've gotten some not so great team scores, but I think each meet has narrowed our focus on what we need to do to be the best team at the end of the year."

Softball

While 12th-ranked Stanford had its tournament wiped out due to weather over the weekend, it was still able to sneak in a doubleheader with Northwestern on Monday, which the Cardinal swept by identical 6-5 scores.

Michelle Prong doubled home three runs in the bottom of the seventh to give Stanford a 4-3 win over UC Davis on Tuesday, extending the Cardinal winning streak to 12 games.

Stanford (20-3) has five games scheduled this weekend as part of the Stanford Invitational.

The Cardinal meets Coastal Carolina at 3:45 p.m. and UC Riverside at 6 p.m. Friday, then hosts San Diego State and Sacramento State beginning 1:30 p.m. Saturday and finishes with Pacific at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Ashley Hansen leads the team with a .526 batting average, 13 doubles and three triples. Jenna Rich has a team-high seven home runs and 31 RBI to go with a .463 average.

Stanford hits .356 as a team while limiting its opponents to a .213 average. Teagan Gerhart (12-3, 1.69) has recorded 100 strikeouts in 91 innings.

Track and field

Stanford hosts the Stanford Invitational this weekend at Cobb Track and Angell Field. The annual meet will be all day Friday and Saturday and feature some of the top high school and collegiate talent from around the nation.

The Stanford Invitational begins at 9 a.m. on Friday with the field events. Running events begin at 11 a.m. with the fourth section of the men's 5,000 meters.

Running events on Saturday start at 12:10 p.m., with field events (men's hammer) starting at 10:45 a.m.

Men's volleyball

Stanford moved up to No. 2 in the AVCA coaches' poll in time for its first conference matches in three weeks.

The Cardinal (11-4, 14-5) begins with a Friday match against visiting Cal State Northridge (4-11, 6-16) in a rematch of last season's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament final, and then plays host to No. 9 Long Beach State on Saturday night, both at Maples Pavilion.

In its first match in two weeks, Stanford lost to NAIA No. 1 California Baptist on Saturday, 18-25, 28-26, 30-32, 25-21, 16-14, at Burnham Pavilion.

Spencer McLachlin had 24 kills and hit .386 in a match that ended Stanford's five-match winning streak.

There were 59 tie scores and 16 lead changes. Stanford took a 13-12 lead in the fifth set, but was outscored 4-1 the rest of the way. Stanford did not play starters Brian Cook, Gus Ellis, and Brad Lawson to allow others to gain more experience.

Women's water polo

Top-ranked Stanford (2-0, 16-0) hosts fourth-ranked UCLA (1-2, 18-4) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation match.

Sacred Heart Prep grads Pallavi Menon and Vee Dunlevie welcome home former Gators' teammate KK Clark, the Bruins' second-leading scorer with 33 goals.

Menlo-Atherton grad Becca Dorst was named MPSF Newcomer of the Week recently.

Stanford's Annika Dries is the reigning conference Player of the Week after scoring five goals in the Cardinal 14-3 win at Arizona State.

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