March 24, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

LSU turned in a perfect 5-0 record last week as the Tigers swept two Southeastern Conference foes to improve to 7-2 in league play and move into second place in the SEC Western Division, one game behind Arkansas.

Junior outfielder Rachel Mitchell batted .353 with 11 RBI as the Tigers knocked off then-No. 2 Alabama in a doubleheader, and then downed Mississippi State in three games.  She slapped a three-run double to tie the score in the fifth inning of the second game against the Crimson Tide, and eventually scored the game-winning run. Mitchell added a three-home homer in the first contest against MSU to put the Tigers in front, and delivered a go-ahead double in the second game.

Mitchell was recognized for her outstanding play as SEC Player of the Week and Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week.

The Tigers moved up four spots to No. 17 in the latest USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 and will look to stretch their winning streak at Mississippi March 24.

STRIKEOUT QUEEN: Stanford senior pitcher Missy Penna shattered the Cardinal’s single-game strikeout record as she fanned 19 batters in a 10-inning 2-1 victory over Cal Poly March 23.

The victory extended Stanford’s winning streak to 28 games since an opening day 1-0 loss to Oklahoma State.  It is the nation’s longest active winning streak, and the 17th-longest in NCAA history.  The streak is also the longest by a Pac-10 team since 2001.

The native of Miami, Fla., eclipsed her own school record of 17 strikeouts, which she set against Arizona State last season.  Penna improved to 19-1 with her 19th complete game of the season, and with 103 career victories now ranks 10th among the winningest pitchers in Pac-10 history.

DYER DOES IT: Northwestern continued to climb the ranks to No. 10 in the latest national poll following the Wildcats’ first series sweep over Michigan since 2000.

Junior outfielder Kelly Dyer batted .800, highlighted by a game-breaking grand slam in the first contest against the then-No. 8 Wolverines.  The native of Homer Glen, Ill., added a 2-for-2 outing with a double in the second game to spark UM to a 2-1 win.  Dyer earned her first Big Ten Player of the Week award for her contributions.

The Wildcats are 5-1 over their last six games -- all against top eight opponents.  Northwestern split with then-No. 6
Oklahoma, and then swept then-No. 8 Tennessee and then-No. 8 Michigan during the stretch.

UNTOUCHABLE: Hawaii’s Stephanie Ricketts became the first Western Athletic Conference pitcher to toss a no-hitter this season as the Rainbow Wahine nipped Louisiana Tech, 2-1, in league play last week.

It was the first career no-hitter for the freshman from San Jose, Calif., who also threw 6.2 innings of no-hit ball in her second start of the series before giving up a single.  Ricketts did not allow an earned run and surrendered just three hits in the series, receiving WAC Pitcher of the Week honors for her efforts.

Ricketts followed up her stellar weekend with a 4-0 win over Grambling State for her third complete-game shutout of the road trip.  She has pitched 12 complete games and seven shutouts this year.

NOTABLE:  University of Massachusetts freshman pitcher Sara Plourde was tapped Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Week for recording a no-hitter against Dayton on March 22 in just her second career start.  The native of Bristol, Conn., fanned nine batters, and retired 18 straight after hitting the first batter of the contest.  It was the 73rd no-hitter in school history … Cal State Northridge first baseman Jaclyn Rymer posted a perfect performance at the plate in the Matadors’ doubleheader sweep of Cal State Bakersfield last week as she went 8-for-8 with four RBI, two doubles, and two runs scored.  In the first contest, the junior from Bakersfield, Calif., tallied five hits, tying a school record that has stood since 1982.  Rymer collected Big West Player of the Week honors, and raised her batting average to .378 for the season.