In a May 29 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2008/2009 school-year.
The criteria are as follows:
Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."
During the months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one. The Bootleg has previously announced swimmer Julia Smit, volleyball's Cynthia Barboza and Foluke Akinradewo, gymnastics' Sho Nakamori, basketball's Jayne Appel, distance runner Chris Derrick, baseball's Drew Storen, football and baseball star Toby Gerhart and softball's Missy Penna as 2008-09 Honor Roll winners. The final member of The Bootleg's 2008-09 Honor Roll is softball's Alissa Haber.
Scrolling through the Stanford softball statistics, my first question was why the totals were on top. Then I looked a little closer, and realized those numbers were Alissa Haber's.
As is the case with pitcher Missy Penna, our penultimate Honor Roll awardee, Haber's numbers truly jump off the page. Take a look for yourself and look at Penna's while you're there. Realize that freshman Ashley Hansen had an absolutely incredible season in her own right (and earned All-American recognition for it), but discounting Hansen, Haber batted .118 better than Stanford's next best player, slugged .183 better, earned 44 more hits, 14 more doubles and 54 more total bases. Those last three figures are more than many Stanford players tallied the entire season. That's how far ahead of the curve Alissa Haber is.
And the Stanford softball roster is as deep as they come. Stanford finished 13-8 in softball's toughest conference (its best ever finish), had a school-record .814 winning percentage (third nationally) and was the No. 2 team for five weeks straight before falling to Arizona in the Super Regionals (which was more a product of Arizona's offense than anything the Stanford bats failed to do).
So these are Nintendo numbers, but Haber hit .443 (second-best in school history), slugged .721, had 89 hits (just below Jessica Mendoza's record 94, and in a shortened season, no less), a school-record and nation-best 26 doubles, 61 runs, and, most impressively, reached base more often than not, 50.7 percent of the time.
Haber also did the little things well this year, which speaks to her work ethic, because I imagine it's a lot easier to tune out your coach and let your fundamentals slide when you're batting .443. (What's he going to do? Bench you?) Haber drew as many walks as strikeouts (22), stole successfully 18 of 20 times, and set career-bests with eight home runs and 32 RBIs, the latter of which is more impressive than it sounds considering Haber bats leadoff and the bottom of any softball order really struggles to reach base. (Note to Coach Rittman: with a hitter this good, maybe you move her down the order a little bit.) Perhaps some of Haber's remarkable statistics concern what she didn't do: commit a single error or ground into a double play the entire season.
Haber was a First Team All-American, alongside Penna, an ESPN.com All-American, All-West Region and First Team All Pac-10. Alongside Mendoza, Penna is the only Card to earn All-American honors in each of her first three seasons at Stanford. (Speaking of Mendoza, a two-time Olympian, what a shame it is that with softball no longer an Olympic sport due to the Europeans playing some hardball [not to be confused with handball, which is an Olympic sport], Haber won't have a chance to try to suit up for the Red, White and Blue. You have to figure she'd have a pretty strong shot given her stats.) Here's betting rising senior Alissa Haber, our final Honor Roll winner, makes it a perfect 4-for-4 in 2010.
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