May 15, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – NCAA Championship play officially begins for the University of Notre Dame softball team on Friday, as the Irish make their first ever postseason appearance in the state of California against Long Beach State at 3 p.m. (PT) in the first game of the Los Angeles Regional at Easton Stadium. Regional host UCLA and Southern Utah will follow with the second game of the day on Friday at 6 p.m.
All three days of play at the NCAA Los Angeles Regional will air live on ESPN3, with Tracy Warren and Amanda Freed calling the action. Fans can watch the games through WatchESPN, and the WatchESPN app.
No. 19/20 Notre Dame (39-11) is making its 16th straight (19th overall) NCAA Championship appearance this weekend, and is one of four Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams that qualified for the national tournament. Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf is 2-1 all-time against Long Beach State, the same program that she began her collegiate coaching career with as a pitching coach in 1996.
A total of seven Notre Dame players were selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Mid-Atlantic all-region teams on Thursday. The seven Irish honorees were the second-most among all teams nationally, while the five Notre Dame players chosen to the first team tied No. 8 Washington for the most in the country.
Notre Dame has now earned a total of 81 all-region accolades from the NFCA since the 1992 season.
Senior pitcher Laura Winter, junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner, junior catcher Cassidy Whidden, sophomore infielder Micaela Arizmendi and NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Top 10 finalist outfielder Karley Wester were all tabbed to the NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region first team. The five first team all-region selections broke the program record of four that was previously set in 2009 and 2011.
Junior infielders Katey Haus and Jenna Simon rounded out the Notre Dame honorees as members of the NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region second team. Haus and Simon were the first multiple Irish second team all-region selections since the 2012 season, when three Notre Dame players earned the nod.
No. 19/20 Notre Dame at the NCAA Los Angeles Regional
May 16-18, 2014
Easton Stadium (1,328)
Los Angeles, Calif.
No. 19/20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Los Angeles Regional No. 2 Seed
(39-11 in 2014)
Notre Dame NCAA Championship Schedule
No. 19/20 Notre Dame (2) vs. Long Beach State (3) – Friday, 3 p.m. (PT)/WatchESPN
Saturday, May 17
Game 3 – 12 p.m. (PT) – Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Game 4 – 3 p.m. (PT) – Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Game 5 – 6 p.m. (PT) – Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Winner
Sunday, May 18
Game 6 – 12 p.m. – Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner
Game 7 – 3 p.m. – Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary)
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame is making its 19th overall NCAA Championship (16th straight) appearance this weekend at the Los Angeles Regional, hosted by UCLA.
– The Los Angeles Regional will be the eighth different site that Notre Dame has traveled to for NCAA Championship play, along with Bloomington (1994), Ann Arbor (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), Iowa City (2001, 2002), Notre Dame (2005), Evanston (2006, 2007), Tucson (2012) and Lexington (2013).
– Head coach Deanna Gumpf has directed Notre Dame to NCAA Regional appearances in each of her 13 seasons at the helm of the program.
– Outfielder Karley Wester was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Softball Freshman of the Year on May 8. Wester was one of five Irish players to claim all-ACC citations, including three that received first team recognition. Sophomore infielder Micaela Arizmendi and senior pitcher Laura Winter joined Wester on the all-ACC first team, while junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner was selected to the all-ACC second team, and junior catcher Cassidy Whidden made the all-ACC third team.
– Notre Dame finished the conference championship season as the national leader in batting average among all teams in the NCAA, posting a .360 team clip in the first 50 games of 2014. The Irish also lead all of Division I softball with 100 doubles (2.00 doubles per game), and rank second nationally in slugging percentage (.563) and fifth in runs per game (6.86) entering this week’s NCAA Championship.
– The Irish claimed runner-up honors in their inaugural appearance in the ACC Softball Championship last weekend at the Maryland Softball Stadium in College Park, Md. Notre Dame has now reached the conference championship game in each of the last three seasons after competing in the BIG EAST final in 2012 and 2013. Freshman Karley Wester and senior Laura Winter represented the Irish on the all-ACC Championship team.
Irish Off To LA For NCAA Regionals
Notre Dame will compete on the West Coast for just the second time in NCAA Championship play at this weekend’s Los Angeles Regional on the campus of UCLA. The Irish qualified for the Tucson (Ariz.) Regional in 2012.
Notre Dame posted a 16-5 record in its first season as an ACC member, placing second to eventual tournament champion Florida State for the conference regular-season championship. The Irish closed the regular season ranked among the top five teams nationally in batting average, doubles, doubles per game, slugging percentage and runs scored per game.
Notre Dame Back On ESPN3
A total of seven Notre Dame contests this season have appeared on ESPN3, including the team’s ACC Championship victories over Boston College and Virginia Tech. The Irish are 5-2 in games that have been seen on the streaming network, with a cumulative .340 team batting average and a 46-22 aggregate run count in those games thus far in 2014. All games in the Los Angeles Regional will be shown on ESPN3.
Irish Enter National Tourney On Top
In the most recent installment of the NCAA national statistical rankings for the 2014 season that was released on Monday, Notre Dame checked in as the number one team in the country in batting average (.360) for the second straight week. It is the first time Notre Dame has assumed the national batting average lead since the Irish paced the NCAA with a .343 final average in 2010.
Notre Dame also held onto the top spot in the NCAA in doubles per game for the 10th straight week. Through 50 contests, the Irish have averaged 2.00 two-baggers per game to pace all of Division I softball, and remain the only program in the country averaging at least two doubles per contest. A team total of 100 doubles for the season from the Notre Dame lineup also leads the NCAA, to go along with the second-highest slugging percentage (.563) and fifth-most runs scored per game (6.86) nationally.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner checks in as the NCAA individual leader with 24 doubles, which surpassed her program record of 21 set in 2013. The Tustin, Calif. native is the all-time Notre Dame leader with 57 career two-baggers.
Irish Show Well In ACC Season Awards
Five Notre Dame players received all-conference accolades during the program’s first season as an ACC member in 2014. Freshman Karley Wester cemented her phenomenal rookie season by being named the ACC Freshman of the Year, and earned all-ACC first team recognition in advance of last weekend’s ACC Championship.
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi, Notre Dame’s leader with 15 home runs and 58 RBI, and senior Laura Winter, the program leader with 27 wins and 251 strikeouts, joined Wester on the all-ACC first team. Junior All-American Emilee Koerner, the national leader in doubles (24) and the Irish single-season top performer in runs scored (60), secured an all-ACC second team citation, while junior Cassidy Whidden (11 home runs, 34 RBI) was tabbed for the all-ACC third team.
Westy In Top 10 For National Frosh Of Year
In the inaugural season of the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award, Notre Dame is represented by one of the most impactful newcomers in program history. Freshman outfielder Karley Wester was named one of the top 10 finalists for the new NFCA honor on May 8, just before the start of the ACC Championship in College Park, Md.
Wester became the first Notre Dame softball player to earn a weekly award from the ACC in the team’s first season as a conference member, copping ACC Player of the Week honors on Feb. 17. Through 50 games, the Huntington Beach, Calif. native leads Notre Dame and the ACC with a .451 batting average, 74 hits and four triples, to go along with a .513 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases. Wester also has a team-high 22 multi-hit games entering her first career NCAA Regional this weekend at UCLA.
`Golden State’ Irish Coming Home
A total of nine players will appear in Notre Dame’s NCAA Regional debut in California that call the state home. Sophomores Casey Africano and Micaela Arizmendi (Huntington Beach), freshman Dana Bouquet (Santa Maria), juniors Katey Haus (Oceanside) and Emilee Koerner (Tustin), freshman Rachel Nasland (San Diego), senior Lauren Stuhr (Huntington Beach), freshman Karley Wester (Huntington Beach) and senior Laura Winter (San Diego) are all natives of the Golden State.
Two Irish coaches will also enjoy a homecoming of sorts in Los Angeles, as head coach Deanna Gumpf (La Palma) and associate coach Lizzy Lemire (Irvine) also hail from the state of California.
Strikeout Cancer Does It Again
Notre Dame softball’s signature awareness initiative, Strikeout Cancer, began supporting leukemia awareness in 2011 in solidarity for Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf and her daughter, Tatum, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2010. Now an annual celebration, the proceeds directly benefit South Bend’s Memorial Children’s Hospital (where Tatum started her treatments) and children throughout Indiana who have been diagnosed with cancer.
In its fourth year of existence, Strikeout Cancer has raised more than $105,000 for children battling pediatric cancer, a figure that leads all teams nationwide that participate in the NFCA StrikeOut Cancer initiative. Funds raised have gone toward “wish trips” for cancer patients and two playrooms at South Bend’s Memorial Children’s Hospital.
The 2014 Strikeout Cancer festivities combined to raise more than $30,000 for the second straight year, with all proceeds going directly to local children battling pediatric cancer. Notre Dame also improved to 9-3 (.750) in the Strikeout Cancer series with its three wins against Maryland on April 27-28.
Irish In The NCAA Championship
Notre Dame qualified for the NCAA Championship for the 19th time in the last 20 seasons with its at-large bid. The Irish are 26-36 (.419) all-time in NCAA Regional play, and have reached the final day of the regional bracket seven different times.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 5-9 all-time against the three other teams entered in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional this weekend. The Irish are in search of their first win against UCLA in program history (0-6), with four losses coming by two runs or less. Notre Dame holds a 4-3 edge against Long Beach State, and is 1-0 all-time in its only meeting with Southern Utah (8-0, 2/18/00) at the UNLV Classic in Las Vegas.