Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Hanson Ready to Return Cardinal to Powerhouse Status

The Stanford Cardinal have never won a national championship in the sport of softball; their Women's College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2004 seem like a distant memory. First-year head coach Rachel Hanson is out to bring change and return success to the fallen program.

The rebuilding of the Cardinal program is in Rachel Hanson's hands.
Once a top-25 stalwart and a postseason regular, the Cardinal haven't appeared in a Super Regional since 2011. The school that turned out Jessica Mendoza, Ashley Hansen, and Lauren Lappin has seen just one all-American honored in the last four years.

Former head coach John Rittman resigned last summer after eighteen years at the helm of the program; he's now an assistant at the University of Kansas and the program is firmly in Hanson's hands with one goal in mind: return the Cardinal to the national title conversation.

Hanson knows that's a long-term goal, not short-term, and says her main priority is maintaining focus on the fundamentals. "Right now, we're just invested in the process. I'm less worried about rebuilding, refocusing, reloading... whatever you want to call it; I'm more about us doing even the little things the right way, every day. Then we can see where we end up at the end of the year."

Hanson's climb to the top has been a bit rough at times, but successful all the way. Named the head coach at the University of Dallas shortly after her own college  graduation, she put that club on the right path in short order. When the Dartmouth Big Green came calling, Hanson accepted the head coaching position there and began her newest project. She turned that program from a squad that was losing nearly twice as many games as they were winning into a conference champion in the span of just three years.

Hanson emphasizes the importance of focusing on getting even the little things right and making well-played games the goal, knowing that the "W" column will eventually reflect positively. "If you do things the right way, the winning takes care of itself," she says.

Only time will tell if Hanson's fundamentals approach translates to victories and success for the Cardinal, but history and time are on her side; it might not be very long at all before there's a postseason contender in the Bay Area once again.

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