Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - February 24, 2012

Cardinal women hoping to make another splash

Two-time defending conference champs take aim at winning inaugural Pac-12 Championships; No. 2 baseball hosts Texas

by Keith Peters

When Stanford captured its second straight title at the Pac-10 Swimming and Diving Championships last season, it did so with just five victories. Depth took care of the rest.

That's a likely scenario once again as the Cardinal heads to Federal Way, Wash., for the four-day Pac-12 Championships that get under way Wednesday. Stanford has won 18 conference championships since 1987. The Cardinal men's and women's divers also will be in action.

Defending NCAA champ California grabbed the first-day lead with 128 points by winning the 200 medley and 800 free relays on Wednesday night. The Cardinal scored 112 points for second place.

In the 200 medley, Cal finished with a time of 1:36.77, as Palo Alto High grad Liv Jensen touched the wall ahead of Betsy Webb and the Cardinal at 1:36.90. Paly grad Colleen Fotsch swam the third leg for Cal.

In the 800 free relay, Cal again edged its cross-bay rival with a time of 6:57.86 ahead of Stanford's 6:58.82. Jensen though held off junior Andi Murez for the win.

Stanford returns only one individual champion in sophomore Maya DiRado, who won the 200 back last spring. Seniors Sam Woodward and Betsy Web plus Murez all swam on the winning 200 free relay. The other titles came from the graduated Kate Dwelley in the 100 and 200 freestyles and diver Meg Hostage on the platform..

Thus, head coach Lea Maurer will be counting upon another great team effort if her team is to successfully defend.

Stanford comes into the championship with the nation's fastest 200 free relay squad (1:28.20) and with two swimmers ranked in the top-three. Woodward has the nation's second-fastest 100 fly (52.06) and fifth-fastest 50 free (22.13) in her final championship go around, while DiRado has the nation's fastest 200 back (1:52.57), second-best 200 IM (1:54.66) and third-fastest 400 IM (4:02.06). The Cardinal also has the second-fastest 400 free relay (3:13.76) and third-fastest 800 free relay (7:02.76).

Stanford comes into the meet with only five seniors and only one swimmer that holds a school record — Webb in the 100 back (52.39) set in 2010. She's also on the school record-setting 400 medley relay (3:30.45) from 2010). DiRado ranks second all-time in both the 200 back (1:52.04) and 400 IM (4:10.02), trailing only Olympian Julia Smit in both events.

Woodward is a part of the record-setting 200, 400 and 800 free relay teams and individually is No. 5 in the 50 free and 100 fly and No. 6 in the 100 free. Lee is No. 6 in both the 100 and 200 back and No. 9 in the 100 fly. Andie Taylor ranks in the top-10 in four categories, ranking No. 4 in the 500 free (4:40.64), No. 8 in the 1650 free, No. 7 in the 200 fly and No. 10 in the 200 free. Maddy Schaefer as just a freshman ranks No. 8 in both the 50 and 100 free after the regular season.

Stanford also will be counting on its fine divers for addition points. That group features All-American Stephanie Phipps, who has won 13 competitions on the 1- or 3-meter boards during the regular season. Phipps posted a career-best in the 3-meter at 340-80 in her last event against Cal. In the 1-meter she had a career-best 313.90 at the Stanford Invite. Freshman Sloane Brazina has the second-best score in the 1-meter, scoring a 268.28 against the Bears. Brazina had a best of 250.28 at USC.

Baseball

Nationally No. 2-ranked Stanford (4-0) will host No. 7-ranked Texas (2-2) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Stanford won 9-7 on Tuesday in 11 innings after trailing 4-0 after two at Pacific. It also trailed 4-0 on Sunday against Vandy en route to an 18-5 win and sweep of the SEC foe.

The Cardinal is coming off of a 35-run weekend as three pitchers went at least six innings as Stanford swept No. 10-ranked Vanderbilt to begin the year.

Stanford remained at No. 2 in Baseball America and No. 3 in Collegiate Baseball, opening the season with the same rankings in the preseason. It is the highest preseason rating since 2003. This is the eighth time since 1988 Stanford has been a preseason No. 1 or No. 2. Five of those years Stanford reached the CWS.

Stanford will send to the hill Mark Appel (1-0, 1.29) and Brett Mooneyham (1-0, 4.50) against Texas' Nathan Thornhill (0-0, 0.73) and Hoby Milner (3-3, 2.91) in the first two games of the series. Sunday's starters have not been announced.

Ranked No. 13 in the preseason, Augie Garrido now in his 16th year at Texas is coming off a CWS appearance a year ago and a 49-19 record. Six regulars return to that club that is hitting just .167 to start the year, but has allowed just seven runs in four games (1.85 ERA).

On Tuesday, Stephen Piscotty hit a two-run homer in the top of 11th leading Stanford to its victory over host Pacific, after the Cardinal trailed by four early and surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the ninth.

John Haberman tied the game at 7 in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI single, after freshman David Schmidt (1-0) blew the save after the bullpen held Pacific scoreless for four innings following a 4-0 Pacific lead after two.

Schmidt instead got the win with 2 2/3 innings out of the pen, as Sam Lindquist came on in the bottom of the 11th for his first career save.

Stanford's Tyler Gaffney reached base safely five times, going 3-for-4 with two hit by pitches and three runs, while Piscotty drove in three.

Women's tennis

Taking the court for the first time since being ranked No. 1, Stanford cruised past No. 36 St. Mary's, 6-1, on Tuesday afternoon at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

The Cardinal (5-0, 1-0 Pac-12) had been idle since knocking off then-No. 1 Florida, 5-2, back on Feb. 12. As a result, Stanford moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the latest edition of the national rankings.

Despite the layoff, Stanford looked sharp on Tuesday afternoon against Saint Mary's (3-3, 0-0 WCC).

The Cardinal claimed the doubles point, sweeping all three courts to take a 1-0 lead.

Ellen Tsay blanked Jade Frampton, 6-0, 6-0, on court four and Nicole Gibbs routed Catherine Isip, 6-3, 6-0, at the No. 1 spot to extend Stanford's lead to 3-0.

The Gaels then recorded their only point, with Carla Lindlar defeating Amelia Herring, 6-1, 6-2, at the No. 6 position.

Kristie Ahn provided the clincher with a 6-3, 6-4 victory on court three.

Friday's match against Cal Poly has been postponed. The Cardinal is next in action on Sunday, Feb. 26, hosting San Diego at 11 a.m.

Wrestling

Stanford (8-8; 3-2 Pac-12) has completed the 2011-12 regular season and is ready for the year's ultimate showdown — the 2012 Pac-12 Championships. Ten wrestlers from each school will compete for conference titles and berths in next month's NCAA Championships. Boise State plays host to the Pac-12 Tournament at Taco Bell Arena.

Wrestling gets underway on Sunday, Feb. 26. The title winners will be determined by the end of the day Sunday.

All six teams will be fighting for the conference crown Sunday. Stanford is the highest-ranked Pac-12 squad coming in at No. 15 in the latest InterMat poll. Oregon State and Cal Poly are also ranked in the top-25, coming in at No. 17 and No. 19, respectively. The Pac-12 boasts 14 individually ranked wrestlers, including two Cardinal.

Stanford has competed since at least 1933, but has yet to win a conference championship. When the conference became the Pac-10 in 1980, the Cardinal's highest finish since then has been second, coming in 2008. Last season, Zack Giesen took home the 197-pound title, becoming the 13th Stanford wrestler to win a conference championship. The team finished fourth overall in 2011.

Senior Nick Amuchastegui and junior Ryan Mango are among the top five in this week's InterMat national rankings. Amuchastegui is the top-ranked wrestler at 174 pounds, boasting an 18-0 record. Mango, who leads the team with 23 wins, is ranked No. 5 at 125 pounds. As a team, Stanford is ranked No. 15.

Amuchastegui began the year with 92 career wins, which ranked 10th-best in school history. His 18 wins this season has brought his career total to 112 moving him up to No. 4 on the all-time list, passing the likes of Chris Horpel, Steve Buddie and Giesen. He needs eight wins to move into a tie for third place with Josh Zupancic.

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