Feb. 5, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind.
– The first weekend of February has finally arrived, and that means it is time for the University of Notre Dame softball team to return to the diamond. The No. 21/22 Irish officially open the 2015 NCAA softball season with five games this weekend at the So Cal Collegiate Classic.
Notre Dame (41-13 in 2014) is set to face Utah in the season opener on Friday at 1 p.m. (PT), with a nightcap showdown against No. 6/7 UCLA at 6 p.m. (PT) at UCLA’s Easton Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Irish will then travel to Fullerton, California for a pair of games with Cal State Fullerton (Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT, Sunday at 10 a.m. PT) and Northwestern State (Saturday at 11 a.m. PT) to close the tournament.
The So Cal Collegiate Classic is the first of four tournaments that will bridge the gap toward Notre Dame’s second official season in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
“We love being in the ACC,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “It is what we expected, every weekend is tough and you have to be able to bring your best game to each opponent. It doesn’t matter who we play, they are going to give us their best game. In turn we have to give them ours.
“I think we prepared ourselves well for the ACC last year and can build on that this year,” Gumpf added. “We knew the strength of the pitching in the ACC was going to be good, and I think one thing that we learned was how powerful the offense is. We have to match our opponents at all times, on all three sides of the ball.”
The Irish return 13 monogram winners this season, including 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American and Division I National Freshman of the Year finalist Karley Wester (.455, 28 RBI, 26 SB, 50 R), two-time NFCA All-American (2013-14) and co-captain Emilee Koerner (.433, team record 28 2B, 11 HR, 51 RBI) and 2014 NFCA All-American Micaela Arizmendi (.382, 17 2B, 15 HR, 61 RBI). Other top returners include 2014 NFCA Mid-Atlantic region first team selection Cassidy Whidden (.336, 11 HR, 35 RBI), and 2014 NFCA Mid-Atlantic second team choices Katey Haus (.333, 14 2B, 3 HR, 52 RBI) and co-captain Jenna Simon (.359, 20 SB, 39 R).
Live stats will be available for all five Notre Dame games at the So Cal Collegiate Classic via CBS Gametracker at UND.com.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
No. 21/22 Notre Dame at the So Cal Collegiate Classic
Feb. 6-8, 2015
Easton Stadium (1,328)/ Anderson Family Field (1,000)
Los Angeles, Calif./Fullerton, Calif.
No. 21/22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(41-13 in 2014)
No. 6/7 UCLA Bruins
(52-8 in 2014)
No. RV Cal State Fullerton Titans
(33-21-1 in 2014)
(31-24 in 2014)
Northwestern State Demons
(30-22 in 2014)
Notre Dame So Cal Collegiate Classic Schedule
Friday, Feb. 6 (UCLA’s Easton Stadium)
Saturday, Feb. 7 (Cal State Fullerton’s Anderson Family Field)
Sunday, Feb. 8 (Cal State Fullerton’s Anderson Family Field)
– Notre Dame was ranked in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Preseason Top 25 (21) and the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I Preseason Top 25 (22) polls for the first time in program history.
– Notre Dame earned its 16th consecutive NCAA Regional berth in 2014 after finishing as the runner-up in both the regular season and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship draws. The Irish also capped their sixth straight 40-win season, a watermark the Irish have attained in 10 of the last 13 seasons since Deanna Gumpf became the program’s head coach in 2002.
– Notre Dame’s final ranking of 20 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball and 22 in the USA Today/NFCA polls to close 2014 were the highest end of season national finishes for the Irish since 2002 (19th in the USA Today/NFCA rankings).
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team has completed its first 26 seasons with a .500 record or above in each campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has posted 27 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
– A total of three Notre Dame players received 2014 NFCA All-America citations, with Micaela Arizmendi
and Karley Wester
copping second team accolades and Emilee Koerner
being named as a third team All-American. The three Notre Dame All-America selections were tied for the most among all NFCA Division I members with College World Series participant Oregon, NCAA Super Regional qualifier Washington and fellow NCAA Regional competitor Auburn.
– Team records set by the 2014 Notre Dame team included the highest batting average (.357) and most doubles (107, 1.98 doubles per game) in a single season in program history, figures that also led all Division I teams in the NCAA. The Irish, who also had a team-best 533 hits and a .419 on-base percentage, also finished second nationally with a .552 slugging percentage and were seventh in scoring after tallying 6.69 runs per game.
The Run Continues…
Notre Dame has established itself as one of the most consistent softball programs in the country since 1999, qualifying for NCAA Regionals in each of the last 16 seasons while posting a cumulative 692-261-1 (.726) record during that span.
A total of 21 of Notre Dame’s 25 All-Americans in program history have earned All-America citations over the past 16 years, including 15 honorees since current head coach Deanna Gumpf
assumed her post in 2002.
Irish Back In Preseason Top 25
For the first time since 2003, Notre Dame will begin a softball season as a nationally ranked team after being tabbed 21st in the ESPN.com/USA Softball College Preseason Top 25 and 22nd in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Top 25 polls.
The Irish have now been ranked in the preseason coaches poll on six separate occasions, while 2015 is the first time Notre Dame was ever ranked in the ESPN.com preseason top 25. Notre Dame was tabbed 19th in 1995, 21st in 1997, 19th in 2001, 14th in 2002 and 17th in 2003 in previous editions of the NFCA preseason top 25.
Irish 2nd In ACC Predicted Order
Notre Dame earned a total of 88 voting points, including one first-place vote, to finish second in the league standings in the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) preseason coaches predicted order of finish, the conference office announced on Monday.
Prior to kicking off their second season as a member of the ACC this weekend at the So Cal Collegiate Classic, the Irish finished as the runner-up behind defending ACC champion Florida State (100 points, 10 first-place votes) in the preseason voting. The conference’s 11 head coaches each cast one ballot for the predicted order of finish tabulations, and were not able to vote for their own teams.
Tough Tests Ahead For ND
A total of 14 of Notre Dame’s 36 scheduled opponents for the 2015 season were either ranked in the ESPN.com or NFCA preseason top 25 or were among teams receiving votes. The Irish will square off with No. 5 Florida State (March 14-15), No. 6/7 UCLA (Feb. 6), No. 10/12 Georgia (Feb. 21), No. 13/14 Tennessee (Feb. 19), No. 17 Missouri (Feb. 27), No. 18/19 LSU (Feb. 14-15), No. 25 (ESPN) Texas (Feb. 21) and No. 25 (NFCA) DePaul (April 21) during the upcoming season.
Notre Dame has won 65 games against ranked opponents in its history, including three ranked victories during the 2014 season.
Travelin’ Irish Out Of The Gate
Always faced with a challenging tournament slate to begin a season, 2015 will be no different for Notre Dame. The Irish are scheduled to play their first 27 games on the road before opening the non-conference home slate against Cleveland State on March 18 at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Seven of Notre Dame’s first 20 road and neutral opponents were ranked in the NFCA preseason top 25.
What The Irish Return On Offense
Fresh off a 2014 campaign where Notre Dame established single-season program records for highest batting average (.357), most doubles (107, 1.98 doubles per game), hits (533) and on-base percentage (.419), the Irish show no signs of taking their foot off the offensive accelerator.
Amongst its 13 returning monogram winners, Notre Dame welcomes back a collective .374 team batting average, 293 runs, 425 hits, 79 doubles, 40 home runs and 258 RBI from last season’s squad. All four Notre Dame hitters who batted above .350 last season, Karley Wester
(.455), Emilee Koerner
(.433), Micaela Arizmendi
(.382) and Jenna Simon
(.359), are back for the Irish in 2015.
Koerner, Wester Make USA Softball POTY Top 50 Watch List
Two-time NFCA All-American Emilee Koerner
and sophomore NFCA All-American Karley Wester
were each named to the “Watch List” for the 2015 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced on Jan. 28.
Notre Dame has been represented on the top 50 preseason watch list in four straight seasons, with NFCA All-Americans Dani Miller
(2012) and Amy Buntin
(2013) joining four-time NFCA all-region selection Laura Winter
(2014) and Koerner (2014) in previously earning the distinction.
The preseason top 50 watch list included 26 seniors, 18 juniors and six sophomores, with freshmen ineligible for consideration. Freshmen can be considered for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award once they officially compete at the collegiate level. Student-athletes from 32 NCAA Division I universities and 13 athletic conferences comprised the preseason watch list.
Rounding The Bases With The Irish
Notre Dame is 12-17 (.414) all-time against the four teams the Irish will face at this weekend’s So Cal Collegiate Classic. Notre Dame won a pair of games at UCLA’s Easton Stadium last season in NCAA Los Angeles Regional play.