Stanford's Big Three
are Wooden finalists
Baseball team plays host to Pepperdine in three-game series;
Cardinal softball has busy weekend ahead hosting invitational
No one who has watched the second-ranked Stanford women's basketball team this year needs to be told just how well Stanford's "Big Three" of center Jayne Appel and forwards Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Kayla Pedersen have played.
Any one who has seen them play will also find it no surprise that all three were named finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, the award's committee announced Tuesday.
Stanford and Connecticut each has three players on the 22-person list. The winner will be announced April 9 at the Wooden Award ceremony.
Ogwumike was named Pac-10 Player of the Year after leading the conference with 18.3 points per game and a 63.5 percent shooting percentage. She's second with 9.4 rebounds.
Appel recovered from offseason knee surgery to earn All-Pac-10 team honors after averaging 13.8 points and 9.2 rebounds a game and shooting 54.3 percent.
Appel set both the Stanford and Pac-10 all-time rebounding records, and currently stands at 1,228 heading into the NCAA tournament. She became only the third player in school history to reach both the 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound career marks.
Pedersen recorded career-best numbers with 16.1 points and 9.2 rebounds as well as a 39.7 percent three-point shooting rate, all three rank fourth in the conference.
Right-hander Jordan Pries (1-1, 5.00) is scheduled to take the mound Friday night when No. 23 Stanford opens a three-game nonconference series against visiting Pepperdine in Sunken Diamon at 6:30 p.m.
The Cardinal (7-4) plays seven of its next eight games at home, with a visit to Pacific on Tuesday the lone road trip.
Menlo School grad Kenny Diekroeger leads Stanford with a .382 average, followed by Colin Walsh at .325.
Pepperdine, the 1992 national champion, and Stanford are meeting in a three-game series for the first time in 18 years, though they met in the 2008 regional, with the Cardinal beating Pepperdine twice.
The Waves (6-9) feature a stingy duo of pitchers in lefty Matt Bywater (1-2, 1.59) and righty Cole Cook (1-2, 2.70). Despite their losing records, the pair has helped Pepperdine to a 5-2 record against nationally-ranked opponents.
Stanford relief pitcher Brian Busick owns an 0.90 ERA over five appearances, while fellow relievers Chris Jenkins (1.80), Alex Pracher (2.45) and Mark Appel (2.70) have all been pitching effectively through the early part of the season.
Stanford esumes its busy schedule with a full complement of games this weekend at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Invitational.
The No. 10 Cardinal hosts Cal Poly, St. Mary's, Princeton and Santa Clara as part of the Invitational. Stanford (15-3) opens against the visiting Broncos Friday at 6 p.m.
Saturday's doubleheader with Princeton at 2:30 p.m. and St. Mary's at 3:45 p.m. will also feature the appearance of two-time Olympian and Stanford grad Jessica Mendoza, who will be available to sign autographs between games.
All-American outfielder Alissa Haber entered her senior season with a .395 career batting average, second all-time behind Mendoza in the Cardinal record books.
Haber and Mendoza are the only players in school history to enter their senior year as a three-time All-American. So far in 2010, Haber is hitting .491 with 28 hits on 57 at-bats. She has tallied 20 runs, five doubles, a triple and four home runs. She has a team-high 47 total bases and is slugging. .825.
Freshman pitcher Teagan Gerhart is 9-2 with a 1.84 ERA on the year. Junior Ashley Chinn owns a career 30-6 record. She has thrown 28 complete games, including 10 shutouts. Opponents are hitting .194 against her this season.
Stanford heads to the NCAA championships March 25 at Harvard as the West Regional champion, while Max Murphy and Francesca Bassa attend as individual titlists.
Murphy won the men's saber title while Bassa won the women's epee title as both the Stanford men and women's teams are five-time West Regional champions.
Six members of the team will be recommended as national qualifiers, including Murphy, Kian Ameli, Kevin Mo and Lucas Janson for the men, while Bassa and Jessica Wacker will be recommended for the women.
In addition, several Stanford team members were nominated for wild card spots at nationals. Reese Rogers and Phil Arredondo were nominated for the men, while Ashley Titan, Rebecca Chung and Samantha Pearlman were nominated for the women.
Kristina Vaculik, a Canadian international gymnast who will join Stanford next season, captured two gold medals and two silvers at the World Cup in Cottbus, Germany over the weekend.
Vaculik won the uneven bars and floor exercise and was second on vault and the balance beam at one of the most competitive stops on the World Cup circuit.
The 17-year-old from Whitby, Ontario, is one three gymnasts signed for Stanford's class of 2014, along with Lauren Caldemeyer (Indianapolis) and Amanda Spinner (Danville).
Her performances helped highlight a dramatic comeback from an elbow injury that prevented her from qualifying for the Canada's Olympic team in 2008.
Stanford plays for the first time as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Cardinal were voted to the top spot on March 8 but hasn't played since because of finals.
Stanford (12-4) hosts NAIA No. 1 Cal Baptist (13-5) on Saturday at Burnham Pavilion at 7 p.m.
Stanford is currently tied with Pepperdine (at 10-4) for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation lead.
Women's water polo
Nationally No. 2-ranked Stanford, (2-0, 16-1) returns from a two-week break due to final exams and will host No. 6 Arizona State in a MPSF match at Avery Aquatic Center at 1 p.m.
The match will be a special one for Stanford, which will be honoring the program's six Olympians in addition to hosting a free autograph session following the match.
On hand will be Ellen (Estes) Lee (Class of 2002 and Olympian in 2000 and '04), Margie Dingeldein (Class of '02, Olympian in '04), Allison Gregorka (Class of '07, Olmpain in '08), and Jessica Steffens (Class of '10, Olympian in '08).
Two other Olympians, Jackie (Frank) De Luca (Class of '03, Olympian in '04) and Brenda Villa (Class of '03, Olympian in '00, '04 and '08) will not be present. Villa was called back to Italy last weekend while Frank is in medical school in Hawaii and is on call.
In Stanford's last action two weeks ago, the Cardinal posted a perfect 4-0 record over three days of play.
Arizona State (0-1, 12-6) enters Sunday's game coming off of a win last Sunday. The Sun Devils are led by Lynlee Smith, who is second in the MPSF with 1.81 goals per game. Shannon Haas (23 goals) and Annabelle Carter (21 goals) are also over the 20-goal mark.
In the cage, Dana Harvey (5.13 saves per game, 2.93 goals-against average) and Amanda Young (5.78 saves per game, 3.78 GAA) split time.
Stanford is the top-scoring team in the MPSF with 13.08 goals a game, and stands third with a 5.77 goals-against average.
Stanford juniors Zack Giesen and Justin Paulsen, sophomore Nick Amuchastegui and freshman Ryan Mango are headed for the NCAA championships in Omaha this weekend.
The tournament began Thursday at the Qwest Center and continues through Saturday.
The championships will be televised live by ESPN and ESPNU beginning with Friday's quarterfinals (7:30 a.m.) and extending through Saturday's finals (4:30 p.m.).
All 16,358 seats for the championship round have been sold.
Amuchastegui (30-4) and Mango (24-13) gained automatic berths into the championships. Amuchastegui won his first Pac-10 title at 165 pounds, while Mango placed third in his first Pac-10 championships at 125 pounds.
Giesen (30-5 at 184 pounds) and Paulsen (23-13 at 133 pounds) were awarded at-large bids. Giesen qualified for his third NCAA championship meet, while Amuchastegui advances for the second straight season. The top eight finishers in each weight class earn All-American honors.