March 25, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 2014 home schedule might finally be set to begin for the University of Notre Dame softball team this week at Melissa Cook Stadium, after cold weather postponed last weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series against Pittsburgh. The Irish are scheduled to welcome Eastern Michigan for a 4 p.m. (ET) first pitch on Wednesday before playing host to No. RV/23 Northwestern on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Live video coverage for both 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) returns to the diamond for the first time since winning the final contest of its three-game set at Virginia Tech by a score of 9-5 on March 16. The Irish scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning against the Hokies to break the game open and even their ACC record at 3-3 after two league weekends.
Eastern Michigan (8-16) travels to Melissa Cook Stadium on Wednesday for its first game since splitting a doubleheader at Youngstown State on March 18. The Eagles are in search of their first win at Notre Dame since earning a 2-1 victory on April 10, 2007, the only time Eastern Michigan has defeated the Irish at home in 14 meetings on the Notre Dame campus.
Northwestern (17-6) returns to Notre Dame for just the second time since Melissa Cook Stadium opened in 2008. The Irish downed the Wildcats 9-1 in five innings on April 4, 2012, in the only prior meeting between the teams at the stadium. Before arriving for Thursday’s contest, Northwestern begins its midweek slate against Northern Illinois on Wednesday at 2 p.m. (CT) in Rosemont, Ill.
Fans can follow live stats for this week’s games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
No. 24/25 Notre Dame vs. Eastern Michigan/No. RV/23 Northwestern
March 26-27, 2014
Melissa Cook Stadium (1,250)
Notre Dame, Ind.
No. 24/25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(19-7 in 2014, 3-3 ACC)
Eastern Michigan Eagles
(8-16 in 2014; 2-15 all-time against ND)
No. RV/23 Northwestern Wildcats
(17-6 in 2014; 12-7 all-time against ND)
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame is scheduled to host its first home games of 2014 with this week’s contests against Eastern Michigan and Northwestern. Last weekend’s scheduled Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series against Pittsburgh at Melissa Cook Stadium was postponed due to inclement weather.
– Notre Dame is a combined 37-3-1 (.915) in non-conference home games at Melissa Cook Stadium since the facility opened during the middle of the 2008 season.
– The Irish woke up the offense in the final game of their last ACC series at Virginia Tech on March 15-16. 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 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, on March 16.
– The Irish remained at number 24 in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and at 25 in the USA TODAY/NFCA Top 25 poll.
Welcome Back To Melissa Cook Stadium
This week’s non-conference games against Eastern Michigan and Northwestern 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 37-3-1 (.915) in non-conference 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 in Blacksburg with a 9-5 Sunday victory at the Tech Softball Park on March 16. 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 most recent 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 for the third straight week. Through 26 contests, the Irish have averaged 2.08 two-baggers per game to pace all of Division I softball, and are the only program in the country averaging at least two doubles per contest.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner entered the week as the Notre Dame leader with 11 two-baggers in 2014, the second-most in the ACC. Her sixth inning two-run double on March 16 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 on March 16 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
Despite being idle with the postponement of all three games against Pittsburgh last weekend, Notre Dame remained a fixture at the top of several ACC offensive categories.
The Irish continued to lead all ACC teams with a .325 batting average, 54 doubles and 30 sacrifice bunts according to the weekly ACC statistics release. Notre Dame’s 54 doubles were also in the top five nationally at the start of the week, while the team’s batting average ranked 19th 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 seventh in sacrifice bunts (5), and maintained a share of 10th place with 10 stolen bases.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner ranked second in the conference with 11 doubles according to the Tuesday stat report. Koerner also was third in total bases (64), fourth in slugging percentage (.727) and tied for sixth in runs scored (26).
Freshman outfielder Karley Wester was tied for the seventh-most hits (31) in the ACC along with Koerner, and had stolen the seventh-most bases (11) and posted the eighth-best batting average (.373) in the league after last weekend’s games.
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 the March 15-16 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 15-2 all-time against Eastern Michigan, including a 13-1 mark in games played at home. The Irish have won six straight contests against the Eagles dating back to the 2008 season, outscoring Eastern Michigan by a cumulative 48-8 run count in those games.
Northwestern and Notre Dame have split the past two matchups in the all-time series between the teams, and the Wildcats travel to Melissa Cook Stadium with a slim 5-4 edge in games played against the Irish on the Notre Dame campus.