March 12, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame softball team resumes its Spring Break game schedule with a non-conference doubleheader on Thursday. The Irish begin the day against FIU at 1 p.m. (ET), and will close against UCF at 6 p.m., with both games taking place at the UCF Softball Complex.
Coverage of the late game against UCF will be streamed live through the CBS All Access Player on UCFKnights.com
No. 22 Notre Dame (17-4) is coming off its first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series in program history last weekend, where the Irish took two of three games at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The Irish blanked the Yellow Jackets 3-0 in game one and 12-0 in five innings in the series finale to earn a two games to one victory.
Fans can follow live stats for Thursday’s games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
No. 22 Notre Dame at UCF
March 13, 2014
UCF Softball Complex (600)
No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(17-4 in 2014)
FIU Golden Panthers
(16-7 in 2014; 2-1 all-time against ND)
(16-8 in 2014; 0-1 all-time against ND)
Notre Dame Thursday Schedule
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame won its first ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series last weekend in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. The Irish shut out the Yellow Jackets 3-0 in game one, and bounced back from a 7-3 loss in the second contest to take the series with a 12-0 win on Sunday.
– The series victory ensured Notre Dame of at least a split in its opening conference series for the 24th time in 26 seasons. The Irish have not lost a league opening series since the 1998 campaign.
– Senior Laura Winter claimed the first Notre Dame ACC Pitcher of the Week citation in program history when the league honors were announced on Monday. Winter was a perfect 2-0 on the weekend at Georgia Tech, scattering five hits over 12 innings with no runs allowed, striking out 19 batters. She added a .571 batting average and three RBI, including her first home run of the season, to help pace the Irish offense.
– Winter became the Notre Dame program leader in career strikeouts in Sunday’s series finale, surpassing two-time All-American Terri Kobata’s (`96) previous mark of 907 career punch-outs. Winter has struck out 909 batters in 793.2 innings in her Irish career, an average of 8.02 strikeouts per game.
– After not playing in the Saturday doubleheader at Georgia Tech, sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi made a triumphant return to the Notre Dame lineup on Sunday. Facing a 2-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the second inning, Arizmendi uncorked a grand slam over the right field wall to extend the Irish lead to 6-0. Arizmendi tied junior third baseman Katey Haus for the team lead with 19 RBI following the home run.
– Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner extended her current consecutive on-base streak to 10 games, including hits in eight straight contests, during the Georgia Tech series. Senior Laura Winter has reached base safely in each of her last six games played.
– The Irish held position at number 22 in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and dropped back one slot to 22 in the USA TODAY/NFCA Top 25 poll.
First ACC Challenge Cleared
Notre Dame emerged victorious from its first Atlantic Coast Conference series last weekend, taking two of three games from host Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
The Irish outscored the Yellow Jackets 18-7 during the three-game set, including a 12-0 triumph in Sunday’s series finale. Notre Dame also held the edge in hits (25-16), extra base hits (9-7), total bases (40-28) and slugging percentage (.513-.406).
2014 Irish Continue Hot Start
After starting 2014 at 17-4 overall, with a pair of separate winning streaks that have totaled both eight and six games, respectively, this season’s Notre Dame team has joined exclusive company in the program’s record book. Only one other team in the 26-year history of Irish softball has won at least 17 of their first 21 games to begin a regular season.
The legendary 2001 Irish won 18 of their first 21 showings on the way to setting single-season program records for both wins (54) and fewest team losses (7) that year.
Still Setting The ACC Hitting Pace
Prior to the midweek schedule getting underway on Monday, Notre Dame entered the week as the leading team in both batting average (.339) and hits (191) in the ACC. The Irish, averaging 9.10 hits per contest through 21 games, remain on pace to surpass the 2010 Notre Dame team that posted a clip of 8.64 base knocks per start.
Along with the top spots in average, hits, doubles (46), sacrifice hits (22) and sacrifice flies (9), Notre Dame opened the week ranked second among conference teams in RBI (114), triples (4) and total bases (281).
All She Wrote After The 4th
Reaching the halfway mark with a lead has meant an automatic Notre Dame win through 21 games this season. The Irish are a perfect 13-0 when leading after the fourth inning in their 17 team wins.
Notre Dame has posted identical 11-0 marks when holding the lead after both the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
New ND Career Strikeout Leader
Senior pitcher Laura Winter moved within three wins of setting the Notre Dame program record following her 94th career victory at Georgia Tech, and she also became the most prolific strikeout pitcher in program history. The San Diego, Calif. native, surpassed two-time All-American Terri Kobata (`96) with her 908th career strikeout in the fourth inning to achieve the milestone.
Winter has registered 909 strikeouts in 793.2 innings pitched in parts of four seasons at Notre Dame, and her 8.02 strikeouts per game clip is the third-best in program history for pitchers who have thrown at least 150 innings. Kobata remains the all-time Notre Dame leader in the metric, after posting a 10.07 strikeouts per game average (907 strikeouts in 630.1 career innings).
Leadoff Hits = More Opportunities
The fastest way to start an offensive rally is to produce at the plate when leading off an inning. Instant offense has been one of the hallmarks of the Notre Dame lineup through the first 21 games of the 2014 season.
The Irish are batting a torrid .431 (53-for-123) as a team to begin a frame, with 17 doubles and four home runs to go with an on-base percentage of .470. Six Notre Dame players that have made at least eight leadoff plate appearances have posted averages of .360 or higher in the top spot of an inning.
Junior All-American Emilee Koerner, who has been the primary Irish leadoff hitter, has logged 14 total hits to begin an inning in 30 at-bats (.467 average), including four doubles, four home runs and two walks drawn.
Freshman outfielder Karley Wester leads all Irish players with a .714 leadoff batting average (5-for-7).
Mic’ Does The Damage
Notre Dame had built a 2-0 lead over Georgia Tech in the second inning of Sunday’s rubber match, but sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi erased all doubt as to which team had the momentum before the end of the frame.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Arizmendi blasted a 2-2 pitch that traveled deep over the right field fence at Mewborn Field for a grand slam that broke the game open at 6-0.
The Irish improved to 4-1 over the last two seasons when Arizmendi has homered, and the Huntington Beach, Calif. native has now hit at least one solo, two-run, three-run and grand slam home run in her collegiate career.
The Race To Six Runs Equals W’s
Scoring six or more runs this season has provided the Notre Dame offense with the quality run support that its pitching staff has needed to be successful. It has also been a sure thing for the Irish in the win column.
Notre Dame is a perfect 11-0 when scoring at least six runs in a game, and has posted a cumulative 89-23 aggregate run count in those contests. The Irish have scored nine or more runs on seven different occasions out of their 17 wins.
Irish In The ACC
Notre Dame officially opened its tenure in the ACC at Georgia Tech after compiling a 297-53 record (.849) in the BIG EAST Conference, winning 13 regular-season and four tournament championship titles in 18 years. The Irish won the most BIG EAST games of any league team during that span.
The 2-1 series win over the Yellow Jackets not only gave Notre Dame its first series victory in the ACC, but it improved the Irish to 107-23 (. 823) all-time against the current league membership.
Midweek First For 2014
Thursday’s doubleheader at UCF will be the first midweek (non-Friday-Sunday) non-tournament games for Notre Dame this season. The Irish are scheduled to play a total of 13 midweek games over the remainder of the season, including ACC series at North Carolina (April 9) and against North Carolina State (April 22) at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame was 7-2 in midweek contests last season, including a perfect 4-0 in BIG EAST Conference non-weekend games.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is an even 2-2 against Thursday’s opponents all-time, with a 1-2 mark against FIU and a 1-0 record against UCF. The Irish won in their only previous trip to the UCF Softball Complex, a 5-3 victory against the Knights, on Feb. 18, 2011.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant