Feb. 18, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team returns to one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation for the second straight season, as the Irish venture to Cathedral City, California for five games this weekend at the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. A total of 35 teams are expected to compete in the four-day tournament at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in Cathedral City, making it the largest tournament field in Division I softball.
No. 23/24 Notre Dame (5-4) opens the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against No. 13/10 Tennessee (9-0) at 10 a.m. (PT) Thursday at ASA/USA Softball Wrigley Field. It will be the fourth meeting in series history between the Irish and the Volunteers, with Notre Dame holding a 3-0 series advantage. The Irish downed No. 5 Tennessee 5-2 on Feb. 27, 2005 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic the last time the teams squared off.
The Irish wrap up opening day play at 3 p.m. (PT) on Thursday, taking on former Atlantic Coast Conference foe Maryland (6-4) at Schutt Fenway Field. Notre Dame is a perfect 8-0 all-time against the Terrapins, sweeping Maryland by a combined score of 26-6 last April in a three-game set at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame will take the field only once on Friday, locking up with UNLV (5-3) at 1 p.m. (PT) on PGF Yankee Field. It will be the first meeting between the Irish and Rebels since March 11, 2012, a 3-2 UNLV victory at the Long Beach Invitational in Lakewood, California. Notre Dame holds a 4-3 series edge over UNLV, including a 4-3 win in eight innings on Feb. 24, 2007 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
The Irish conclude their tournament slate on Saturday, playing two games against fellow top 25 opponents. Notre Dame and No. RV/25 Texas (7-3) will begin the day at 9:30 a.m. (PT) at PGF Yankee Field. The Irish and Longhorns have previously played three times in series history, with Saturday’s contest being the first matchup between the teams since 2007.
The fifth and final Notre Dame tilt of the weekend pits the Irish against No. 7/8 Georgia on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (PT) on Schutt Fenway Field. Georgia, the defending Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion, defeated Notre Dame 7-1 on Feb. 27, 2004 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Georgia) in the only prior series meeting between the teams.
Live stats will be available for all five Notre Dame games at the Mary Nutter 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. 23/24 Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Feb. 19-21, 2015
Big League Dreams Sports Complex
Cathedral City, Calif.
No. 23/24 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(5-4 in 2015)
No. 13/10 Tennessee Volunteers
(9-0 in 2015)
(6-4 in 2015)
(5-3 in 2015)
No. RV/25 Texas Longhorns
(7-3 in 2015)
No. 7/8 Georgia Bulldogs
(10-0 in 2015)
Notre Dame Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 19
Friday, Feb. 20
Saturday, Feb. 21
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame fell in its final three games last weekend at the LSU Tiger Invitational, marking just the third losing streak of three or more games for the Irish since 2010.
– Sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland enjoyed the best weekend of her collegiate career at the LSU Tiger Invitational, posting a 0.88 ERA in three appearances at Tiger Park. Nasland threw six no-hit innings of relief on Sunday against Hofstra, and surrendered only two earned runs in 10 innings of work against No. 16 LSU during the tournament.
– Notre Dame dropped four spots to No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll that was released on Tuesday. The Irish also fell four places to 24th in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 weekly rankings.
– Notre Dame is 8-11 (.421) all-time at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, but is a perfect 2-0 against 2015 tournament opponents in Cathedral City. The Irish downed No. 5 Tennessee 5-2 on Feb. 27, 2005 and UNLV 4-3 in eight innings on Feb. 24, 2007 in prior meetings at the historic event.
– A six-run surge in the top of the seventh inning on Feb. 6 capped a Notre Dame comeback from a 4-2 deficit, sending the Irish to an 8-4 win over No. 6/7 UCLA at Easton Stadium in Los Angeles. It was Notre Dame’s first win over the Bruins (1-8) in series history, and its fourth triumph in six games at Easton Stadium dating back to last season’s NCAA Los Angeles Regional.
– UCLA was the first top 25 opponent Notre Dame has downed during a season opening tournament since the Irish defeated No. 19 Florida 4-2 on Feb. 13, 2005, at the Gainesville Regional Utilities Classic in Gainesville, Florida.
– 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.
One Run Is The Difference
Of Notre Dame’s four losses through the first two weeks of the 2015 season, three defeats have come by just a single run: 8-7 at Cal State Fullerton (Feb. 7), and a pair of 3-2 decisions to host LSU (Feb. 14) and Hofstra (Feb. 15) at the Tiger Invitational.
The verdict in one-run games ultimately swung Notre Dame’s way last season, as the Irish posted a 5-3 (.625) mark in games decided by one run in 2014.
Nasland Dominant In The Circle
Sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland enjoyed her second solid day in the circle, claiming a pair of no decisions after allowing only one earned run over 10 innings last Sunday to close the LSU Tiger Invitational.
For the weekend, Nasland posted a 0.88 ERA over 16 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits. The Notre Dame right-hander logged six no-hit frames in relief in the opening game Sunday against Hofstra.
Nasland was masterful in the Saturday nightcap against No. 16 LSU, tossing six innings of three-hit softball, surrendering one earned run and striking out six Tiger hitters in a hard-luck loss.
The Irish Follow The Captain
Senior co-captain Jenna Simon was the leading offensive catalyst for Notre Dame during the four-game LSU Tiger Invitational, putting together one of the best offensive tournaments of her collegiate career.
Simon led all Notre Dame players with a .538 average (7-for-13) over the weekend, adding a team-high three runs scored during the tournament. The Irish second baseman established a career-high with four hits on Saturday against Central Arkansas, posting a perfect 4-for-4 effort with an RBI and two runs scored against the Bears.
Simon’s four-hit performance against Central Arkansas was just one base knock away from tying the Notre Dame program record for a single game. Junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi put together a perfect 5-for-5 day in the finale of an ACC series last season at Virginia (4/19/14), while Jenn Giampaolo (4/22/95 against Cleveland State) and Kathy Vernetti (4/22/90 against Saint Louis) also accomplished the feat.
The Ranked Opponents Keep Coming
With scheduled games against No. 13/10 Tennessee, No. RV/25 Texas and No. 7/8 Georgia on the docket this weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Notre Dame’s strong and challenging early season list of opponents continues to grow.
By the end of this weekend, the Irish will have played a total of nine of its first 14 games against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25, including six top 25 foes. The last time Notre Dame played six or more games against top 25 ranked opponents through 14 games was in 2005, when the Irish earned wins over No. 21 South Florida (5-1 on Feb. 12), No. 19 Florida (4-2 on Feb. 13) and No. 5 Tennessee (5-2 on Feb. 27).
Gumpf Reaches 550-Win Plateau
Notre Dame won its second straight season opener, improving to 5-0 in its all-time series with Utah following a 3-1 victory on Feb. 6 at Easton Stadium. The Irish outhit the Utes 7-4, including a pair of extra base knocks, and added one stolen base. With the win, 14th-year Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf claimed her 550th career victory in the Irish dugout.
`The Rotation’ Makes Irish History
The Notre Dame four-pitcher rotation of junior Allie Rhodes (Utah), sophomore Rachel Nasland (Cal State Fullerton), and freshmen Katie Beriont (UCLA) and Sara White (Northwestern State) made Notre Dame history by each earning a victory during a season opening tournament at the So Cal Collegiate Classic.
It was the first time four different Irish pitchers have ever each won one game during an opening weekend. In fact, Notre Dame has only had four pitchers win at least one game in eight (`93-’96, `99, `05, `11, `15) of its 27 seasons all-time.
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.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 16-6 (.727) all-time against its five opponents entering this weekend’s Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Irish are 3-0 against Tennessee, 8-0 against Maryland, 4-3 against UNLV, 1-2 against Texas and 0-1 in their only meeting with Georgia.