Feb. 27, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team, winners of eight of its last 10 games, will play for the fourth straight season at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., this weekend. The Irish are 10-3 in their first three years of competition at the Citrus Classic, and went a perfect 4-0 during last season’s tournament schedule.
No. 23 Notre Dame (10-3) will open the event on Friday at 1:15 p.m. (ET) against Fordham, with the game being televised live on ESPN3. The Irish close the first day against Illinois State at 5:45 p.m., with a live audio webcast available on the Illinois State Radio Network through goredbirds.com. The rest of the weekend’s schedule will see Notre Dame taking on Ohio State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.), Radford (Saturday, 5:45 p.m.) and Omaha (Sunday, noon).
The Irish are a combined 12-6 against the weekend’s opposition all-time, and will meet Omaha and Radford for the first time. Notre Dame defeated both Fordham (3-1) and Ohio State (3-1 in eight innings) during the 2012 edition of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Fans can follow live stats for this weekend’s games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
2014 Diamond 9 Citrus Classic
February 28-March 2, 2014
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
No. 23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(10-3 in 2014)
(5-8 in 2014; 0-2 all-time against ND)
Illinois State Redbirds
(5-9 in 2014; 3-5 all-time against ND)
Ohio State Buckeyes
(4-6 in 2014; 3-5 all-time against ND)
(2-4 in 2014; first meeting against ND)
(11-3 in 2014; first meeting against ND)
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame extended its season-best winning streak to eight games before taking a hard-luck 5-3 loss against California in the fourth game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last weekend. The Irish posted a 4-2 record at the elite tournament, improving to 10-3 in 2014.
– As the reigning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week, freshman outfielder Karley Wester led Notre Dame with an even .500 batting average (10-for-20) in six starts at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Wester added a team-high four stolen bases and a .542 on-base percentage, along with nine put outs and two assists patrolling left field for the Irish.
– Sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi was named the College Sports Madness ACC Player of the Week after a breakout offensive performance in Cathedral City, hitting at a .421 clip with five doubles, one home run and a team-high 10 RBI. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native has already equaled her freshman outputs for both home runs (2) and RBI (13) in 2014, and ranks second on the Irish with a .788 slugging percentage.
– Freshman pitcher Rachel Nasland earned her first career Notre Dame victory during the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, tossing 1.2 scoreless innings of relief and striking out her first two career batters last Thursday against Pacific. Nasland has a team-low 1.11 ERA through six appearances in the circle this season.
– Senior pitcher Laura Winter surpassed a pair of Notre Dame career milestones last weekend. Winter moved into second place on the program’s all-time strikeouts list with a pair of punch-outs in the first inning against Cal State Fullerton, and became the third winningest pitcher in program history with a victory over the Titans.
– Notre Dame is a combined 10-3 in its three previous trips to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
– The Irish moved up one spot to number 23 this week in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA TODAY/NFCA Top 25 polls. Notre Dame has won four games over opponents either in the top 25 or who have received votes in the polls.
Nearly A Perfect Weekend In Cali
Notre Dame was essentially two innings away from posting an unblemished record in its six games last weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Irish still posted a respectable 4-2 mark at the largest NCAA Division I regular season tournament in the country, with their only losses coming at the hands of ranked foes, receiving votes California and national No. 4 Oregon.
In fact, Notre Dame’s 10-3 start thus far in 2014 is tied for the second-best record of any Irish team in program history after 13 games, equaling the 2011 squad’s opening mark. The 2001 Notre Dame team, which won a team record 54 games and at one time had a 33-game winning streak that season, opened the campaign 12-1.
#21 Making A Push To Be #1
Freshman outfielder Karley Wester is showing no signs of slowing down after becoming the first Notre Dame softball player to be named ACC Player of the Week on Feb. 17. Wester batted at or above .500 for the second straight weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, going 10-for-20, and added three walks drawn for a tournament on-base percentage of .542.
The Huntington Beach, Calif., native chipped in four stolen bases, two RBI and five runs scored in six starts in the Notre Dame outfield over the weekend. She also extended her consecutive games reaching base streak to an even 10 contests.
Wester enters this weekend with a team leading .436 batting average, the fifth highest in the ACC, and is tied with junior All-American Emilee Koerner for the Notre Dame lead with 17 hits (both are tied for fourth in the ACC).
I’ll Take Two, Please…
Along with being the leading ACC team in batting average (.347) and total hits (123) through 13 games, Notre Dame hitters have excelled in racking up extra base hits.
The Irish lead the ACC with 28 doubles out of their 123 total team hits, an average of 2.15 two-baggers per game. By comparison, the 2010 Notre Dame team that set a program record with 103 doubles in a single season recorded 1.75 doubles per contest during that season.
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi ranks at the top of the ACC with seven doubles out of her 13 total hits (nine of 13 hits are for extra bases counting her two home runs). Junior Emilee Koerner is tied for third place in the league with five doubles, while sophomore Megan Sorlie’s four doubles are tied for sixth in the conference.
The Premier Leadoff Hitter In The ACC
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner has been the integral cog at the top of the Notre Dame lineup as the team’s leadoff hitter in each of the last 29 games. The Tustin, Calif., native is now making her leadoff acumen known throughout the ACC.
Koerner, who began a pair of games in 2013 with a home run, has already left the yard in Notre Dame’s first team at-bat of a game on three occasions this season. She ranks second overall in the ACC in total home runs (5) and total bases (39), and is third in slugging percentage (.886), runs scored (15), RBI (14) and doubles (5) among all league hitters.
Winter Becomes One Of ND’s Elite
Senior Laura Winter took two more steps toward the Notre Dame pitching pantheon following her four appearances at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic last week. Winter spun a pair of shutouts, including a two-hitter to open the tournament against BYU last Thursday, and a one-hitter Saturday night against Cal State Fullerton. The Irish right-hander also took No. 4 Oregon to the brink, throwing a masterful seven-hitter over nine innings in a narrow Notre Dame defeat.
The San Diego, Calif., native also climbed in the Notre Dame record book with her performances, surpassing Heather Booth (`06, 845) for second place on the all-time strikeouts list, finishing the weekend with 861 career K’s. With the win over Cal State Fullerton, Winter also passed two-time All-American Jennifer Sharron (`01) for third place in career wins with her 89th victory in the circle for the Irish.
The Notre Dame ace also enters the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in a tie for third place in career complete games (76), fourth in innings pitched (760.2) and fifth in both appearances (136) and starts (111) in Irish lore.
No Sophomore Slump For The Irish
After three weeks worth of play in the 2014 season, the Notre Dame sophomore class has shown virtually no signs of the dreaded `sophomore slump’. In fact, each of the five players that make up the Irish class of 2016 have taken their games to new levels to begin their second collegiate campaigns.
Catcher Casey Africano is batting .333 in seven games played (six starts) thus far in the young season, adding her first career stolen base and a pair of runs scored. She has also handled 49 straight chances successfully as the Notre Dame backstop.
First baseman Micaela Arizmendi is currently batting .394 in her first 12 games, and is the overall ACC leader with seven doubles. The southpaw has added two home runs, 13 RBI, a .788 slugging percentage, a .412 on-base percentage and five runs to the Irish offensive attack, and was selected as this week’s College Sports Madness ACC Softball Player of the Week on Tuesday.
Second baseman Carly Piccinich has continued to flourish as the team’s primary pinch runner while also reassuming duties in the field after an injury limited her in that capacity last season. Piccinich has scored a team-high six runs after entering as a pinch runner, and added her third career hit against UC Davis on Friday.
Pitcher Allie Rhodes has emerged as the solid second pitcher in the Irish rotation, tossing the 40th no-hitter in program history during her second start of the season against Morehead State (Feb. 9). The Irish left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA in five starts in the circle in 2014, and has allowed only 14 hits (three for extra bases) in 24.2 innings pitched.
Right fielder Megan Sorlie has logged four multiple hit games this season, and is currently second on the Notre Dame roster with a .429 batting average. Sorlie has added four doubles, four RBI and four runs scored in 11 games (10 starts).
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is a combined 12-6 against its five opponents this weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
The Irish are 2-0 all-time against Fordham and are 5-3 all-time against both Illinois State and Ohio State. Notre Dame downed both Fordham (3-1) and Ohio State (3-1 in eight innings) at the 2012 Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The Irish will meet both Omaha and Radford for the first time this weekend.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant