March 21, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After nearly two months of games at road and neutral sites to begin the season, the University of Notre Dame softball team will lift the lid on its 2014 home Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schedule this weekend against Pittsburgh. The series will begin with a tentative noon (ET) first pitch for a doubleheader on Saturday, with game two scheduled to start tentatively at 2 p.m. Both teams are expected to close the set with the third and final game on Sunday at noon (ET).
Live video coverage for all three games from Melissa Cook Stadium will be available on WatchND, and can be viewed through the WatchND app or by logging on to UND.com.
No. 24/25 Notre Dame (19-7, 3-3 ACC) returns to the diamond after winning the final contest of its three-game set at Virginia Tech by a score of 9-5 last Sunday. The Irish scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to break the game open and even their ACC record after two league weekends.
Pittsburgh (8-13, 0-5 ACC) travels to Melissa Cook Stadium in search of its first ACC victory after dropping a pair of series to defending champion North Carolina State and North Carolina to begin the league slate. The Panthers have posted one win in 12 prior games on the Notre Dame campus, and are in search of their first ever series victory over the Irish.
Fans can follow live stats for this weekend’s games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
No. 24/25 Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh
March 22-23, 2014
Melissa Cook Stadium (1,250)
Notre Dame, Ind.
No. 24/25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(19-7 in 2014, 3-3 ACC)
(8-13 in 2014, 0-5 ACC; 2-29 all-time against ND)
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame is scheduled to host its first league series as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) this weekend against Pittsburgh. The Irish and the Panthers will meet for the 16th different series in their respective histories, with all but one game between the teams taking place during BIG EAST Conference play.
– Notre Dame has played a total of 31 games against Pittsburgh entering the weekend, the most for the Irish against any current team that comprises the ACC membership. Notre Dame is 29-2 (.935) all-time against the Panthers, and has won nine straight meetings in the series.
– The Irish woke up the offense in the final game of last weekend’s ACC series at Virginia Tech. Notre Dame recorded 14 hits, the 10th time this season the team has surpassed the 10-hit plateau, on its way to a 9-5 victory over the Hokies on Sunday.
– Notre Dame plated a total of five runs in the top of the sixth inning to push Sunday’s game out of reach, the second time the squad has scored five or more runs in a frame during ACC play. The Irish tallied six runs in the top of the sixth inning of the series finale at Georgia Tech on March 9.
– Sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi put on another power hitting display last weekend at Virginia Tech, hitting a home run during each game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Hokies at Tech Softball Park. It was the first time Arizmendi logged back-to-back home run games in her Irish career, and along with a grand slam at Georgia Tech on March 9, gave her a team-high three home runs in ACC play.
– Senior captain Chloe Saganowich extended her current hit streak to seven games after tallying a base knock in each of Notre Dame’s three games at Virginia Tech. The Irish shortstop added a double and two RBI to the offensive cause during the series. Junior catcher Cassidy Whidden has now hit safely in six straight contests after going 2-for-3, with a crucial solo home run, last Sunday.
– The Irish fell two spots to number 24 in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and dropped back three slots to 25 in the USA TODAY/NFCA Top 25 poll.
Welcome Back To Melissa Cook Stadium
This weekend’s ACC series against Pittsburgh will officially mark the beginning of the home schedule for Notre Dame inside the friendly confines of Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish are a combined 90-16-1 (.842) on their home field, including conference tournament games, since the facility opened during the 2008 season.
Scrapping To .500 In The ACC
Notre Dame shook off a pair of Virginia Tech comeback wins last weekend in Blacksburg with a 9-5 Sunday victory at the Tech Softball Park. The win evened the Irish ACC schedule at 3-3 after two league weekends.
The Irish nearly surpassed their combined hit total of 15 from the first two games of the series, and exceeded their run count of six from Saturday’s contests. A pair of home runs also gave Notre Dame its fifth multi home run game of the season.
The Irish put what was a 4-3 game entering the sixth inning out of reach during that frame, tallying five runs in the top half of the sixth off Virginia Tech reliever Kelly Heinz.
Irish Finding Their Power Stroke
After hitting only nine home runs during the first 18 games of the regular season, the Notre Dame offense has enjoyed a power surge over the past two weeks.
In the past eight games alone, Notre Dame has belted nine home runs, with two multi home run contests on its resume.
Sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi has left the yard a total of three times during that span, including a second inning grand slam at Georgia Tech on March 9 that went down as the first ever Irish home run in ACC play. Junior catcher Cassidy Whidden has slugged a pair of solo blasts in her last seven games.
National No. 1 In Doubles
In the second 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 doubles per game. Through 26 contests, the Irish have averaged 2.08 two-baggers per game to pace all of Division I softball.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner entered the week as the Notre Dame, and ACC, leader with 11 two-baggers in 2014. Her sixth inning two-run double on Sunday against Virginia Tech surpassed associate coach Lizzy Lemire (’01) and moved Koerner into a tie for eighth place on the all-time program list with 44 career doubles.
A Breakout Season For Arizmendi
Sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi has been one of the standout offensive performers for Notre Dame through the team’s first 26 games.
Arizmendi has already surpassed her freshman year totals in hits (20), doubles (7), home runs (5), RBI (22) and runs scored (14) in only 23 appearances (21 starts) this season. The Huntington Beach, Calif. native is the Irish RBI leader, and ranks second in home runs, slugging percentage (.618) and total bases (42) behind junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner.
Program Wins Record Within Reach
Senior pitcher Laura Winter moved into a tie with Notre Dame great Heather Booth (’06) for the program wins record last Sunday at Virginia Tech, hurling an effective 3.1 innings of relief in the series finale against the Hokies.
Winter is a combined 96-30 (.762) over her four seasons with the Irish, and has won at least 25 decisions in each of her three full campaigns. The San Diego, Calif. native earned win number 96 in just her 144th career appearance (118 starts), while Booth did not record her final win until her 170th game pitched at Notre Dame.
Offense Still On All Cylinders
Thanks in part to Sunday’s nine-run, 14-hit performance in the series finale against Virginia Tech, Notre Dame remained at or near the top of a number of offensive metrics in the ACC to begin the week.
The Irish continued to lead all ACC teams with a .325 batting average, 234 hits, 54 doubles and 30 sacrifice bunts. Notre Dame’s 54 doubles were actually the second-most nationally at the start of the week, trailing only the 56 of Nevada, while the team’s batting average ranked 21st in the NCAA.
Junior second baseman Jenna Simon, the Notre Dame team leader with a .403 batting average, opened the week ranked fourth among all ACC hitters in the statistic. Simon also sat in a tie for sixth in sacrifice bunts (6), and maintained a share of seventh place with 10 stolen bases.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner led the conference with 11 doubles according to the Tuesday stat report. Koerner ranked second in total bases (64), third in slugging percentage (.727) and hits (31), fourth in runs scored (26) and was tied for fifth in home runs (6).
Freshman outfielder Karley Wester had logged the third-most hits (31) in the ACC, and had stolen the fifth-most bases (11), chipped in the sixth-most runs (20) and posted the ninth-best batting average (.373) in the league after last weekend.
Irish In The ACC
Notre Dame officially opened its tenure in the ACC at Georgia Tech on March 8 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.
Following last weekend’s series at Virginia Tech, the team’s second ACC slate this season, the Irish are now a combined 108-25 (.812) all-time against the current league membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 29-2 all-time against Pittsburgh entering this weekend’s series, and has won the last nine meetings between the teams dating back to the 2009 season. The Irish also hold an aggregate 208-35 runs edge in the first 31 games played in the series.
The two teams met for the first time in BIG EAST Conference play on April 3, 1999 at Ivy Field, with Notre Dame emerging victorious from the league doubleheader with 6-1 and 10-2 wins over the Panthers.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant