Feb. 21, 2018
by Tony Jones
#25 Notre Dame at Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Feb. 22-24, 2018
Big League Dreams Sports Complex
Cathedral City, California
No. RV/25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(6-3 in 2018)
No. 12/6 Auburn Tigers
(13-0 in 2018)
No. 6/9 Texas A&M Aggies
(9-0 in 2018)
No. 1/3 Washington Huskies
(12-0 in 2018)
San Diego State Aztecs
(3-8 in 2018)
St. John’s Red Storm
(2-3 in 2018)
Notre Dame Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 22
No. RV/25 Notre Dame vs. No. 12/6 Auburn (Fenway) – 1 p.m. (ET)
No. RV/25 Notre Dame vs. No. 6/9 Texas A&M (Yankee) – 6 p.m. (ET)
Friday, Feb. 23
No. RV/25 Notre Dame vs. No. 1/3 Washington (Fenway) – 8:30 p.m. (ET)
No. RV/25 Notre Dame vs. San Diego State (Fenway) – 11 p.m. (ET)
Saturday, Feb. 24
No. RV/25 Notre Dame vs. St. John’s (Pawtucket) – 3 p.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Returning to Cathedral City, California for the fifth straight season, the University of Notre Dame softball team aims to keep its current form as part of a deep field at the 2018 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic this weekend. The No. RV/25 Irish will play five games at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex, featuring top-25 showdowns with No. 12/6 Auburn and No. 6/9 Texas A&M on Thursday, and a marquee matchup with No. 1/3 Washington on Friday.
Notre Dame (6-3) has won its last three games after taking a pair from No. 14 Minnesota and earning a split with No. 20/19 Michigan at last week’s Big Ten/Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Challenge in Tallahassee, Florida. For the second straight year the ACC emerged victorious in the annual competition, with the three Irish victories helping push the league over the top by a 26-14 margin.
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.
Irish On Fire In B1G/ACC Challenge
Riding the momentum of a 6-5 Saturday win against No. 14 Minnesota, Notre Dame finished the weekend in style on Sunday at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Irish completed the sweep against Minnesota 3-0 before taking down No. 20/19 Michigan 4-3 at Florida State’s JoAnne Graf Field.
No. RV Notre Dame posted a 3-1 combined record against Minnesota and Michigan, holding the opposition to a .175 batting average for the weekend. In just their second trip to the Big Ten/ACC showcase, the Irish now stand at an even 4-4 in the annual tournament.
Irish Turn The Tide Vs. Minn/UM
Notre Dame improved to 2-2 against Michigan in its last four meetings with the Wolverines, and swept Minnesota for the first time ever in a tournament setting. Prior to the 2017 season, Michigan had previously won 14 straight games against Notre Dame from the year 2000 until a 6-4 Irish win at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last February.
The wins over Minnesota were the 81st and 82nd Irish victories against a top-25 ranked foe since 1992, and the 40th and 41st against an opponent in the national top 15. The Michigan win was the 83rd ranked win in that same span.
Marino Flashes The Leather X2
Sophomore second baseman Katie Marino showed poise, skill and aggressiveness on the defensive end for Notre Dame throughout the Big Ten/ACC Challenge last week. It was Marino’s stellar play in the field that directly paved the way for two Notre Dame victories.
Marino’s heroics were first on display during the initial Notre Dame meeting with No. 14 Minnesota on Feb. 17. Minnesota looked to rally in the top of the seventh, ripping a two-run single into center field with one out to trim the deficit to 6-5. With two runners still aboard, Marino snagged a liner near the bag at second base and quickly flipped to Morgan Reed for the game-ending double play.
The early candidate for Irish play of the year came in a crucial spot in the tournament finale against No. 20/19 Michigan. After a one-out walk in the top of the seventh inning with Notre Dame ahead by a 4-3 score, the Wolverines brought the go-ahead run to the plate.
On a sharp line drive that carried well onto the grass behind the bag at first base, Marino made an unbelievable diving catch and doubled the lead runner off for the second time of the weekend to secure the win.
Holloway Unhittable At Week’s End
Freshman pitcher Alexis Holloway found her groove in relief to claim the win in the first meeting of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge with No. 14 Minnesota last weekend, allowing two runs on three hits in 3.2 innings during her first collegiate appearance out of the bullpen. It was Sunday’s final day where the Irish right-hander really shined.
Holloway spun 9.1 innings of shutout softball to sweep both Minnesota and No. 20/19 Michigan, allowing a lone single to Minnesota, with five walks and six strikeouts. Along with senior left-hander Katie Beriont, the Irish pitching staff combined to limit the Golden Gophers and Wolverines to an .089 batting average (4-for-45) over 14 innings.
The freshman closed the weekend 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA, striking out 14 batters in 16.2 innings with a .140 batting average against. Holloway ranks third in the ACC with four victories, and fifth in strikeouts with 35 (eight strikeouts looking) thus far this season.
Irish Return To The Rankings
With the 3-1 Big Ten/ACC Challenge in the distance, Notre Dame entered the national top 25 for the first time in the 2018 season. The Irish checked in 25th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll, and remain receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
After a two-year absence from the national polls from 2012-13, Notre Dame has been ranked for at least one week in each season dating back to the 2014 season. The Irish reached a high watermark of 17th in the USA Softball top 25 on March 22, 2016.
Notre Dame’s three total victories over No. 14 Minnesota (twice) and No. 20/19 Michigan marked the first time in program history that the Irish have notched three ranked wins during the same tournament.
ND Against The MNCC Field
Entering this weekend’s five games at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Notre Dame boasts a 47-16 combined record against No. 12/6 Auburn, No. 6/9 Texas A&M, No. 1/3 Washington, San Diego State and St. John’s.
The Irish hold winning marks over Auburn (5-2), San Diego State (5-2) and St. John’s (35-1). The win total over St. John’s is the fifth-most of any opponent in Notre Dame’s all-time series history, though the teams have not played since the Irish joined the ACC in 2013. Since 2014, Notre Dame is a combined 14-7 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball, men’s soccer and swimming and diving programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.