Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Baseball Ready For 2001 Regionals

May 25, 2001

The Notre Dame baseball team (46-11-1, 20-3 BIG EAST)-ranked as high as 8th nationally-will play host to the four-team, double-elimination NCAA Championship South Bend Regional at Frank Eck Stadium from May 25-27, with two games on Friday, three on Saturday and one or two on Sunday (see full schedule at right) … top-seeded ND will face Midwestern Collegiate Conference champion Wisconsin-Milwaukee (39-16) in Friday’s 4:00 p.m. EST game (equivalent to Chicago time), followed by game 2 at approximately 7:30 between 2nd-seeded UC Santa Barbara (39-15 and the Big West Conference runner-up) and Florida International (40-18, Sun Belt Conference 3rd-place team) … the losers then will play on Saturday at noon and the winners at approximately 3:30, followed by another elimination game at 7:00 (Sunday’s title games are 1:00 and 4:30, if necessary) … the winner of the South Bend regional will advance to the superregional round, which will feature best-of-three series on June 1-3 … the eight Super Regional winners will advance to the College World Series, June 8-16 in Omaha, Neb.

RADIO COVERAGE – South Bend’s WJVA radio (1580 AM) carries live broadcasts of Notre Dame’s entire 56-game schedule in 2001 (plus all postseason action) … a real-audio link to internet broadcasts of the games may be accessed at while real-time stats for home games-including updated play-by-play-likewise can be accessed at … real-time stats also will be available for all games from the South Bend Regional (via … the CSN sports radio network will be providing live radio broadcasts from three NCAA regional sites-including South Bend … CSN tentatively is scheduled to broadcast games 1, 4, 6 and 8 of the South Bend Regional-with the network’s affiliates numbering some 110 stations in 28 states (check for additional information and to listen to internet feeds of the broadcasts).

ND QUICK NOTES – The Irish will be looking to get back on the winning track after going 5-5 in their last 10 games, including 5-4, 5-2 losses to Virginia Tech at the BIG EAST Tournament (plus a 6-2 win that eliminated Rutgers) … the Irish ran away with the BIG EAST regular season title, setting BIG EAST records for consecutive wins (18) and wins in a season (22-4) … ND is two wins shy of tying the team record for total wins … ND’s losses include seven by one run, plus a two-run loss and three-run loss … ND ranks 3rd in the nation with a 3.06 team ERA (Rice leads at 2.87) … senior RHP Aaron Heilman is a semifinalist for the Howser and the Smith national player-of-the-year awards (as is junior C Paul O’Toole for the Johnny Bench Award) … four ND players have been named to the Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-District V team and now advance to the national Academic All-American ballot (that team will be announced in mid-June): senior LHP Mike Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey, sophomore RF Brian Stavisky and sophomore RHP Matt Laird (ND is the only school with multiple players on the 11-player all-district team) … seventh-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri reached his 300th win at Notre Dame in the final week of the regular season at Boston College.

QUITE A HAUL – The Notre Dame baseball team did its best impression of the Irish women’s basketball team at the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament banquet, with 11 members of the ND baseball program combining to take home 14 total awards … leading the way were pitcher of the year Aaron Heilman, co-player of the year Steve Stanley and rookie of the year Steve Sollmann (plus coach of the year Paul Mainieri) … those three players were joined on the 13-member first team all-BIG EAST squad by senior SS Alec Porzel, junior 3B Andrew Bushey and senior RHP Danny Tamayo while junior C Paul O’Toole and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky were named to the 2nd team, with junior DH Matt Bok and sophomore RHP J.P. Gagne earning spots in the 3rd team … the night held plenty of significance:

  • ND tied a BIG EAST record by placing six individuals on the first team (also St. John’s in ’91 and Rutgers in 2000).
  • Ten ND players earned all-BIG EAST honors (no other school had more than five)
  • ND become just the fourth team in the 17-year history of the awards to sweep all four major awards (also Villanova in ’93 and Providence in ’95 and ’99).
  • Heilman joined former Connecticut hurler Charles Nagy (`87, `88) as the only repeat winners of the BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-year award
  • Stanley joined former SS Brant Ust as ND’s second BIG EAST player of the year, with Ust earning the honor as a sophomore in 1998.
  • Sollmann became just the 10th freshman ever named 1st team all-BIG EAST and is ND’s third BIG EAST rookie of the year in the last six seasons (also DH Jeff Wagner in ’96 and Ust in ’97).
  • Heilman and Tamayo are just the second set of pitchers from the same school (and first since ’85) to each be named one of three BIG EAST 1st-team pitchers.
  • Heilman was the only unanimous selection to the 2001 all-BIG EAST first team and became the first BIG EAST pitcher ever named all-conference four times (2nd team in `98, 1st team in `99 and 2000) … he joins Wagner and Ust on the elite list of seven players that have been named first team all-BIG EAST three or four times.
  • Stanley was 2nd team all-BIG EAST in `99 (as was Stavisky in 2000) while Porzel was the 2000 all-BIG EAST 2nd-team SS (behind player of the year Darren Fenster of RU) and joined Heilman on the `98 all-rookie team … O’Toole joined Stanley on the `99 BIG EAST all-rookie team while Gagne and Stavisky were 2000 all-rookie picks.
  • Heilman and Rutgers RHP Bobby Brownlie were the only repeat selections on the first team.

BIG EAST BOOST – ND posted a .334 team batting average in 2001 BIG EAST regular-season games (.321 overall, up 24 points from 2000) and averaged 9.2 runs per 9 innings in BIG EAST games.

INJURY UPDATE – Three ND position players are listed as questionable for the South Ben d Regional … sophomore LF Kris Billmaier (back injury) has missed the last seven games but could return to the starting lineup this weekend … freshman 2B Steve Sollmann originally was thought to be lost for the rest of the season due to a hand injury that caused him to miss two starts at the BIG EAST Tournament … junior OF Matt Strickroth likewise is questionable due to a recent back injury.

FILLING THE 2-HOLE – Junior C Paul O’Toole filled the No. 2 spot in the batting order during the final two games of last week’s BIG EAST Tournament, taking the place usually occupied by injured freshman 2B Steve Sollmann … O’Toole batted in the 2 hole for more than half of his freshman season (34 games) while his 2000 starts included 13 as the leadoff batter and one in the No. 2 spot … he also has batted 2nd in 15 games this season, giving him 50 career starts in that position … O’Toole’s diverse offensive skills (.315 career batting average, with 19 home runs, 37 doubles and 42 stolen bases.

NEED SOME HELP – Junior C Paul O’Toole was one of the few bright spots for the ND offense during last week’s BIG EAST Tournament, batting a team-best 6-for-10 with a home run, two doubles, four runs scored and an RBI, two walks a stolen base … the rest of the ND team hit 20-for-92 at the BET (.217) … O’Toole’s combined batting average in the previous two BETs was just .240 (.167 in 1999, .308 in 2000).

SERIE-OUS STUFF – ND has won 18 of its last 19 BIG EAST series, 26 of the last 29 (one tie) …. the Irish have won 43 of 54 all-time since ’96 (5 series ties, 6 series losses) … ND’s series run in the past three seasons includes eight series wins, one loss and one tie in ’99 and wins in all nine series of 2000 before winning 9-of-10 series this season (2-3, 8-9 losses at Virginia Tech) … the Irish have played 28 BIG EAST series at Eck Stadium, winning 24 (plus one tie), and have won their last 14 home BIG EAST series, since dropping a series to SJU late in ’98.

THREE-YEAR SUCCESS – Prior to the 1999 season, no BIG EAST baseball team ever had posted more than 18 conference wins in a season … ND became the first team to break the 18-win barrier by going 20-5 in 1999 and then finished 18-7 in 2000 before a record-setting 22-4 mark this season … that three-year run adds up to 60-16 (.790) and boosts ND’s all-time record in six season of BIG EAST regular-season games to 103-33 (.757), the best conference winning pct. by a BIG EAST team during that 1996-2001 span.

ALL-TIME OPPONENTS – ND has faced 272 opponents in 109 years of varsity baseball, with James Madison, Florida International, Missouri and Oakland becoming first-time ND opponents in 1999 while North Florida and Akron joined the list in 2000-followed by Sam Houston, Florida Atlantic, South Florida, Pacific and New Mexico this season … UC Santa Barbara is one of the more noteworthy teams that ND has yet to face (others include Oklahoma State and Texas Tech).

SERIES NOTES – ND opened its 1999 season by dropping a three-game series at Florida International (1-14, 2-3, 0-12) … the Irish hold an 8-3 lead in the all-time series vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (including 6-3 in the Paul Mainieri era and two games in 1994, all at Eck Stadium) … ND’s current senior class helped post wins over UWM in 1998 (4-1) and ’99 (7-6) but the Panthers beat the Irish last season (14-3).

VS. THE FIELD – ND posted a 10-1 record in 2001 vs. teams that qualified for the 2001 NCAAs, including a 4-0 mark vs. Rutgers (all on the road, three at RU), 3-0 vs. Seton Hall and 2-0 vs. Mississippi State (both at MSU), plus a 5-4 win at Fresno State and a 6-1 loss to South Florida .. ND’s top hitters in those 11 games were sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (.450, 18-for-40, 17 RBI, 2 HR, 2 3B, 6 2B) and freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (.436, 17-for-32, 12 R, 2 HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 SB) … the rest of the ND offense batted .260 in the 11 games this season vs. eventual NCAA Tournament teams.

KEEP ME MOVING – ND’s 16 trips to the NCAAs have featured 11 different host schools, with the only repeats being Notre Dame (’49, ’59, ’99, ’01), Western Michigan (’57, ’58) and Minnesota (’56, ’60) … ND’s last 11 trips to the NCAAs have featured 10 different host schools: Minnesota (’60), Illinois (’63), Ohio State (’70), Fresno State (’89), Miami (’92), Florida State (’93), Clemson (’94), Alabama (’96), Notre Dame (’99 and ’01) and Mississippi State (2000).

COMMON FOES – ND posted a 4-1 record vs. MCC teams this season (3-0 vs. Cleveland State, 9-8 vs. Detroit, 5-2 vs. Chicago State and 7-3/2-4 vs. Valparaiso) while UWM swept 4-game series from Detroit and CSU (plus a win in the MCC Tournament), took both games from Chicago State and dropped an 8-7 game to Valparaiso … ND won at Pacific (5-2), which later was swept in a 3-game series vs. UCSB … FIU swept DHs vs. two BIG EAST teams (Villanova, Seton Hall) and posted a 3-0 win over Rutgers (ND was 3-0 vs. VU and SHU and won all four of its games vs. RU this season).

BACK TO THE BEND – Notre Dame-which also hosted an NCAA regional in 1999-is one of 11 schools to be a multiple host during the past three years … ND also previously played host to NCAA Tournament games in ’49 and ’59, prior to the current regional format (which began in 1975).

THE SPARK – Every team that competed in the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional-ND, host Mississippi State, Tulane and South Alabama-received a No. 1 seed in the 2001 tournament … ND (46-11-1) and Tulane (50-10) are host teams, MSU (36-22) is the No. 1 at Ohio State’s regional and South Alabama (44-17) is the top seed at Clemson … those four teams’ combined 2001 winning pct. is .745 (176-60-1), with Tulane leading the nation and ND owning the 6th-best winning pct. … Tulane also garnered the No. 5 overall national seed and joins ND in boasting a national player-of-the-year in finalist in 3B Jake Gautreau (Irish RHP Aaron Heilman likewise is a top candidate).

MAT-SU ‘MATES – UCSB’s top starter, RHP James Garcia, played summer ball in 2001 with the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska League … his teammates on that team included two current Irish players: senior RHP Danny Tamayo and junior OF Matt Strickroth … Garcia likely would not face the Irish, as he is slated to start Friday’s game vs. Florida International.

MIAMI MEMORIES – ND senior RHP Danny Tamayo and freshman 3B Javier Sanchez are natives of Miami and have connections to several FIU players … Tamayo played Legion ball with Panthers junior OF Barry Paulk while playing on the same 8th grade team with three FIU players: junior IF Gus Alfonso, junior IF Tino Burgos and junior RHP Michael Mendez … Sanchez was a teammate of two FIU players at Columbus HS: Alfonso and junior RHP Michael Baluja … FIU’s roster includes 14 Miami natives.

40-SOMETHING – ND owns 13 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 48 twice (’89, ’92), 46 in five seasons (’90, ’93, ’94, ’00, ’01), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks 4th in Division I, trailing three others: Florida State (24, currently 43-17), Wichita State (24, 42-24, with more than 56 GP due to a Hawaii trip exemption) and Clemson (nearing 15, 37-20).

+30 … AND BEYOND – The Irish are 30-plus games over .500 (+35) for the 4th season in ND history (first ever prior to May) … the ’89 team was the first to do it, winning five straight to claim the MCC title and push its record to 47-17-1 (May 20) … the ’90 Irish swelled to 40-10 on May 6 (with a 14-4 win over Xavier) before topping out at +35 in the MCC Tournament (45-10, 46-11) … the ’92 Irish pushed their record to 43-13 with a 10-1 win over Dayton in the MCCs and surged as high as +34 (48-14) thanks to wins in the NCAAs over Miami, Delaware and South Carolina … ND tied the ’90 team’s mark of +35 with the 9-1 win over Michigan and fell back after the 7-6 loss to WMU before becoming the first Irish team ever to reach +36 (at 43-7-1) with the DH sweep of UConn (6-1, 13-12).

RACKING UP THE Ws – 2001 marked the sixth time that an ND baseball team has reached 41 wins in the regular season but only one previous ND squad (44-10, ’90) headed into the postseason with more than 41 wins … the four previous ND teams that finished the regular season with 41 Ws were ’89, ’91, ’92 and ’00 … the Irish set the team and BIG EAST records for regular-season wins (45) with the DH sweep at BC.

ANOTHER WINNING SEASON – ND needed just 36 games (30-5-1) to clinch the 78th winning season in the program’s 109-year history, including 14 straight winning seasons (the ’87 team was 15-29).

PAYBACKS – ND has gone 20-3 in 2001 vs. teams it lost to in 2000, with wins over Mississippi St. (2-0), Pittsburgh (2-0), Rutgers (4-0), West Virginia (2-0) , Villanova (3-0), St. John’s (3-0), UConn (2-1) and BC (2-1) and a 7-6 loss to Western Michigan … the Irish-who won their first 15 “payback games” this season-were rained out vs. Purdue … the only other teams that beat ND in the 46-18 season of 2000 were Ohio State, Minnesota, North Florida, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Northwestern.

SO MANY STRONG STARTS – Senior RHPs Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo and sophomore RHP J.P. Gagne will be looking to extend the impressive performances by ND starting pitchers in 2001, as the Irish starters combined for a 2.51 ERA regular-season ERA (1.96 before the UConn series) … the bulk of those starts (28) have come from the lethal combination of Heilman (1.54, 6th in the nation) and Tamayo (2.75, 29th) while Gagne (4.70, 3.99 as starter) has turned in solid efforts in most of his 11 starts … sophomore Peter Ogilvie (1.15, 4-1 in six starts) has evolved into a strong No. 4 starter while junior Matt Buchmeier (3.81) logged five decent starts during the first half of the season … other ND starters in 2001 have included senior LHP Mike Naumann (1.90), sophomore RHP Ryan Kalita (1.13) and junior RHP Drew Duff (5.79) … other combined stats for ND starting pitchers: 38-7 in 373 IP (104 earned runs), with 311 Ks, 80 walks and 302 hits allowed (for 9-inning averages of 7.5 Ks, 1.9 BBs and 7.3 hits) … ND’s overall 3.07 team ERA includes a 4.49 by the bullpen-led by sophomore RHP Matt Laird (3.21, 4-1, 4 SV).

THE FRIENDLY SKIES – The spring break trip to Northern California completed a string of four straight roadtrips for the Irish, covering some 10,000 miles: Starkville, Miss. (1,436 miles roundtrip), San Antonio, Texas (2,532), St. Petersburg, Fla. (2,310) and Fresno, Calif. (4,264) … all told, ND has covered roughly 4/5ths of the earth’s circumference (20,655 of 24,000 miles)-the equivalent of travelling from Miami to Seattle … the long way! … despite the travel challenges, the ND players missed just five total class days this spring while the 33-member squad combine for a 3.19 team GPA last fall (four just were named to the 82-player Academic All-America ballot, tops nationwide).

THE SKIPPER REACHES 300 – Seventh-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 633-401-1 (.612) record in 19 college seasons … in addition to his 301-122-1 (.711) mark at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … his 301 wins rank 3rd all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 24 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball (16 via the draft), with RHP Christian Parker being the first to reach the Majors (he earned a spot as the N.Y. Yankees No. 5 starter and made his debut vs. Toronto on April 6 at Yankees Stadium-with Mainieri and others from ND watching on) … 15 of his players at St. Thomas went on to pro ball, including three-Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier-who have played in the major leagues … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to top 500 wins … Demie won 1,018 in 30 years at Miami-Dade North CC.

MAINIERI’S MILESTONES – Paul Mainieri-who posted his 300th career victory at Notre Dame in the second game of the DH sweep at BC-reached the 500-win milestone in ND’s Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) before reaching his 600th win this season in memorable fashion: on St. Patrick’s Day in the 7-6 win over Portland in the title game of the Fresno State Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic (the Irish wore special green jerseys) … Mainieri experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return with the Irish to UNO (where he played) and his third return as the ND coach to his hometown of Miami … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the ’99 season opener vs. James Madison, in Miami at Fla. International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at ND in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999, and his 1,000th this season vs. Hillsdale College (March 29).

PORZEL RANKS AMONG BIG EAST’S ALL-TIME BESTS – Irish senior SS Alec Porzel steadily infiltrated the BIG EAST record book and is the only player currently ranked among the BIG EAST’s all-time top 10 for each of the following categories in conference games: RBI (1st, 102), doubles (2nd, 33), ABs (T-1st, 345), hits (6th, 108), HRs (9th, 79), games played (4th, 93) and runs (8th, 79) … Porzel’s 16 RBI during the last 12 BIG EAST games sent him well past the previous BIG EAST career RBI record (89, by Rutgers 1B/OF Pete Zoccolillo) … Porzel tied former Rutgers SS Darren Fenster atop the BIG EAST career ABs list and was one 2B shy of tying Fenster atop that list (Porzel would have been 1st team all-BIG EAST in 2000 but Fenster had a player-of-the-year season) … his 14 doubles in BIG EAST games this season were one shy of the BIG EAST record (UConn’s Billy Rich had 14 in ’97) … ND junior CF Steve Stanley ranks 7th on the BIG EAST career runs list (80) and is tied with Porzel for 6th in hits (108).

GAPS IN HIS BAT – Porzel hit 24 doubles as a junior and has gone two better this season, with his 26 two-baggers ranking 6th in the nation … Porzel’s 0.45 2Bs/gm rank 9th nationally … Dan Peltier (32, ’89) is the only previous ND player to hit 25-plus 2Bs in a season … Porzel (76) is ND’s runaway leader for career 2Bs (Eric Danapilis was the previous recordholder, with 61 from ’90-’93).

30-30 – Senior SS Alec Porzel smacked what proved to be a valuable 2-run home run in the 9-8 win over Detroit on April 11 and in the process became the first ND player ever to reach 30 home runs (now 36) and 30 stolen bases (now 32) in his career, doing so in his 205th career game played … junior C Paul O’Toole (19 HR, 41 SB, 168 GP) also has a shot at the 30-30 distinction.

PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN – Junior Steve Stanley has started all 183 games of his ND career (all in CF) while logging all but 14 innings in CF his three seasons … from 1999-2001 seasons, the familiar #2 has patrolled CF in 99.1% of the innings (1,548 of 1,562)-including all but two of 513.2 as a freshman (his classmate Paul O’Toole played the final two innings in a 20-10 loss at Northwestern on April 6, 1999) … Stanley then played in CF for the final 267.2 innings of ’99 and the first 497 of 2000-a span of 764.2 consecutive innings in CF-before being replaced by current senior Ben Cooke for the final five innings of the 8-1 NCAA loss at Mississippi St. (the Irish fell into an early 7-0 hole and Stanley reluctantly left the game due to illness) … this season, he has patrolled center in all but seven of 50 innings-with Mike Naumann inserted into CF for the final inning vs. Texas-Pan American (a 14-9 win) while John Heintz played the position for the final four innings vs. Hillsdale (a 9-2 win) and for the final two innings of the 15-3 win over Seton Hall … Naumann-who had OF experience as a prep-turned in a play during that brief stint vs. UTPA that Stanley would be proud of, sprinting to the warning track and crashing into the wall while holding on to a flyout off the bat of Caleb Schmidt (who homered earlier in the game) … here’s a breakdown of Stanley’s innings played in center field:

THE MEN OF IRON – Stanley has moved past former teammate Brant Ust (179, ’97-’99) into 2nd place on the ND all-time list for consecutive starts (183) … Ust’s three-year career saw him split starts at 3B, 2B and SS in ’97 before playing primarily 3B in ’98 and SS in ’99 … the Irish record for consecutive starts is held by another former SS, as Pat Pesavento started 204 consecutive from ’86-’89 (starting with the final 31 games of ’86)-one of the longest starting streaks in Division I history.

VETERAN CORE OF FOUR – Senior SS Alec Porzel combines with a junior trio-CF Steve Stanley, 3B Andrew Bushey and C Paul O’Toole-to form the veteran core of ND’s position players … they have combined for 740 games played, 724 starts, 858 hits in 2,681 ABs (.320), 177 doubles, 475 RBI, 163 stolen bases and 207 walks … Stanley (BIG EAST player of the year), Porzel and Bushey all were named 1st team all-BIG EAST while O’Toole was named to the 2nd team (Stanley was rated the BIG EAST’s top defensive OF by Baseball America prior to 2001 while Bushey and O’Toole were cited by BA as the BIG EAST’s best defensive players at their positions).

HE KEEPS GOING … AND GOING – Junior CF Steve Stanley has moved into 3rd place on the ND career stolen bases list, with 83, behind Scott Sollmann (101, ’94-’96) and Pat Pesavento (94, ’86-’89) … Stanley has been caught stealing just six times this season (30-for-37, .811) and is 83-for-109 in his career (.762, 24-for-32 in 1999, 29-for-40 in 2000).

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The ND baseball squad posted a 3.19 team GPA in the 2000 fall semester-the program’s best term in the seven-year tenure of coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4 or higher) in the fall, with 21 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 13 times since ’82, including a pair in 2000: 2B Jeff Perconte (3.76 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government, now attending ND Law School) and current senior LHP Mike Naumann (3.92, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters, already accepted into and plans to attend Baylor Medical School) … ND was one of seven Division I baseball teams with multiple Academic All-Americans in 2000 and only two of those schools-ND and North Carolina-participated in the 2000 NCAAs … four current ND players recently were named to the 11-player Academic All-District V team (no other school had multiple players on the team) and now advance to the national Academic All-America ballot: Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey (3.33, finance), sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (3.69, business) and sophomore RHP Matt Laird (3.59, business).

JUNIOR JUMP – One of the hidden keys to ND’s success in 2001 has been the play of junior 3B Andrew Bushey, who has provided solid offense batting mostly in the No. 7 hole (he is 4th on the team with a .344 batting avg., plus 17 doubles, 3 triples and a .466 slugging pct.) … Bushey’s batting avg. is up 73 points from his combined avg. in 1999 and 2000 (.271) while his slugging is up 85 points (.381 first two seasons) … his 3 triples are more than the previous 2 seasons combined (2) while he hit just 18 combined doubles in 1999 and 2000 … his .425 BIG EAST average ranked 2nd among the conference’s players, behind co-player of the year Mike Scott of UConn (.451).

THE MASK FACTOR? – Bushey’s sudden jump in batting average brings back memories of another recent Irish player-Mike Amrhein (’97)-who made the switch to catcher prior to making big strides at the plate (Bushey began training as classmate Paul O’Toole’s backup last fall and has made 10 starts behind the plate in 2001) … Amrhein-who credited his experience as a catcher with improving his abilities to see the ball as a hitter and understand the strategy of opposing pitchers (Bushey has expressed similar observations)-was a 99th-round draft choice of the N.Y. Yankees before returning for his senior season … after playing mostly OF and 3B his first three seasons, Amrhein split catching duties with Jeff Wagner in ’97 and responded with a monster season that included a 21-game hit streak … Amrhein entered that season with a .346 career batting avg. but hit nearly 50 points higher than that in ’97 (.394) while amassing 91 hits, 14 HRs, three triples, 13 doubles, 71 RBI, 33 walks and just 17 Ks (nearly matching his HR total) … Amrhein’s final season prompted the Chicago Cubs to select him in the 10th round of the ’97 draft (only three ND seniors ever have been drafted higher) and he is in his 5th season with the Cubs organization (he was a non-roster invitee at Cubs spring training each of the past two seasons and currently is playing with the AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx).

MORE HITS, MORE Ks – Andrew Bushey (65) has surpassed his 2000 hit total (58) but his improved batting avg. has included a surprising rise in his strikeout total, as Bushey K’d just 12 times as a sophomore but has 22 strikeouts in 2001 (his on-base pct. has jumped 41 points, from .352 in 2000 to .293 this season).

BUSTING OUT – Despite major early-season struggles with scoring 1st and 2nd-inning runs, the Irish stunningly now hold a 54-8 season scoring edge in the 1st inning (26-18 in the 2nd) … much of that 1st-inning domination came in BIG EAST play, with ND pushing across 37 runs in the 1st inning of 26 league games while allowing just one … the Irish scored just three 1st-inning runs in the first 13 games of the season before plating two in the 9-5 win over Illinois … prior to the March 31 Seton Hall DH, the Irish still had managed just eight 1st-inning runs in 24 games before scoring five in the DH with the Pirates … ND’s highest-scoring 1st inning of 2001 came in a big game and helped secure momentum in the sweep at Rutgers, with ND scoring five times in the 1st inning of the second game of that series en route to an 8-2 win.

CUTTING THE Ks – Sophomore RF Brian Stavisky continues to made strides as an all-around offensive force, as the dangerous power hitter has struck out just 23 times (three coming at the BIG EAST Tournament) in 219 plate appearances (9.52 PAs per K)-a considerable improvement from his 2000 average of 6.95 … Stavisky’s strikeout numbers were more impressive within BIG EAST play, as he K’d just eight times in 104 BIG EAST plate appearances (13.0 PAs/K) … Staviksy had K’d just once in the previous 17 games before striking out in his final two ABs during the loss to WMU.

HITTING STREAKS – Junior DH Matt Bok and junior LF Matt Strickroth carry team-best 5-game hitting streaks into the NCAAs … … six Irish players have posted double-digit hitting streaks this season, led by junior 3B Andrew Bushey (13) and freshman 1B Joe Thaman (12) and four who have turned in 10-game streaks: junior CF Steve Stanley, freshman 2B Steve Sollmann, senior SS Alec Porzel and junior DH Ken Meyer (career-best heading into BET).

BILLY BALL- Sophomore LF Kris Billmaier’s ability to consistently put the ball in play and draw timely walks has resulted in his team-best +14 walk-to-strikeout margin (26/13), plus seven times hit-by-pitch … despite ranking at the bottom of ND’s hitting charts, Billmaier’s .360 on-base pct. is better than three ND regulars who own higher batting averages … other top BB-to-K margins belong to junior C Paul O’Toole (+7, 22-15) and junior CF Steve Stanley (+10, 27-17).

IN LIKE A LION – Junior C Paul O’Toole had a jumpstart on his usual hot-hitting month of May, as his team-best .439 batting during the month of April (29-for-66) helped ND post a 20-2 record during that month … O’Toole’s strong showings in May the previous two seasons were capped by his selection to the NCAA all-regional team in 1999 and again in 2000 … his career stats during the month of May now are as follows: .368 batting avg .in 40 games (57-for-155), with a .690 slugging pct. (10 HR, 4 3B, 12 2B), 39 RBI, 43 R, 11-16 SB, 12 BB and 12 Ks (nearly matching his HR total) … more than half of O’Toole’s career HRs have come in the postseason, including one in the final game of the 1999 BET and one in each ND game at the ’99 South Bend Regional (making him the first ND player ever to homer in four straight postseason games) … O’Toole’s .368 career batting avg. in May is 73 points higher than his career pre-May average of .295.

PROSPECT PAIR – Sophomore RF Brian Stavisky leads ND in batting average during the 14 games started by senior RHP Aaron Heilman, at .425 (no other ND player is above .350) … Heilman and Stavisky are ND’s highest-rated prospects (according to TeamOne Baseball) … Heilman’s catcher, junior Paul O’Toole, surprisingly is hitting the lowest by an ND regular (.170, 8-for-47) in games started by Heilman (he is hitting .381 in the 44 games not started by Heilman).

WITH #22 AT POSITION 1 – ND’s team stats in the first 14 games started by Heilman (often against the opponent’s top pitcher) include a .284 batting average and 7.3 runs per game … Heilman’s nine-inning averages this season break down as follows: 5.4 hits allowed, 2.3 walks, 8.8 Ks, 11.7 groundouts and 35.6 batters faced

WH/IP IT GOOD – The ND pitching staff’s best ratios of walks and hits per nine innings (WH/IP) include those owned by senior RHPs Aaron Heilman’s (7.7) and Danny Tamayo (8.3), plus sophomore RHP Peter Ogilvie (9.2).

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES – Despite ranking 8th among ND regulars in batting avg. (.283), senior SS Alec Porzel owns the 5th-best sum total of slugging pct. plus on-base pct., at .859 (.509, .350) … ND’s top players on the slug/OB combined chart include sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (1.055), freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (.949), junior CF Steve Stanley (.930) and junior C Paul O’Toole (.871)

BIG INNINGS – ND owns significant season scoring edges in the 1st (54-8), 4th (52-20) and 6th (49-19) innings while being outscored in only one inning (40-30 in the 8th).

BLOWING ONE WAY – ND has won by five-plus runs 20 times this season while suffering just two losses by five or more runs.

ONE BRIGHT SPOT WAS … – Despite hitting just .252 as a team at the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament, ND’s offensive players did manage to compile an impressive walk-to-strikeout ratio of 28-to-2 in the team’s three BET games.

POWER SURGE – ND homered in five consecutive games from May 5-12 (vs. UConn and St. John’s) and has totaled 10 HRs in the last nine games (compared to 25 in the first 49) … sophomore RF Brian Stavisky, senior SS Alec Porzel and junior OF Matt Strickroth each homered in the 6-2 BET win over Rutgers, matching ND’s season high for HRs in a game (also in the 15-2 win over Villanova) … Stavisky’s home run ended a 20-game stretch in which he had homered just once (in the 13-12 win over UConn) … ND’s last eight HRs have come from six different players: freshman 1B Joe Thaman, Porzel, junior DH Ken Meyer, Strickroth, junior C Paul O’Toole and Stavisky.

GAME-ENDERS NOT SO RARE – Ken Meyer’s grand slam in the 6-4 win over Central Michigan on April 19 (with two outs and an 0-2 count) marked the 4th time in a 25-game stretch at Eck Stadium that the Irish had won on a game-ending home run … it happened last season on three successive BIG EAST weekends, vs. Pittsburgh (Alec Porzel), St. John’s (Jeff Felker) and Rutgers (Brian Stavisky).

DRAFT FORECAST – ND senior RHP Aaron Heilman was rated in early May as the nation’s No. 13 prospect among all players, according to TeamOne Baseball ( … Heilman was the 4th college pitcher and 6th college player on the list … he was 8th overall pitcher on the list, which includes three HS players and Matt Harrington (yet to sign after being drafted by Colorado in 1st round of 2000 draft) … college pitchers rated above Heilman include two of his former teammates from the ’99 Team USA squad-USC’s Mark Prior (1st) and UCLA’s Josh Karp (8th)-plus Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazleton (4th) … the top-ranked college position players are Georgia Tech 3B Mark Texeira (2nd) and Kent State 1B/RK John VanBenschoten (6th) … the rest of the top 12 prospects include prep pitchers Colt Griffin (3rd, Marshall, Texas), Mike Jones (5th, Thunderbird, Ariz.) and Gavin Floyd (7th, Mt St. Joseph’s, Md.), plus Harrington (10th) and three prep position players: 1B Casey Kotchman (9th, Seminole, Fla.), C Joe Mauer (11th, Cretin-Derham, Minn.) and OF Roscoe Crosby (12th, Union, S.C.) … Mauer is a former teammate of current ND sophomore RHP J.P. Gagne … ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky is 43rd on TeamOne’s latest prospect list … he’s the 23rd-highest-rated college player on the list and 9th among college position players, behind Texeira, VanBenschoten, Tulane 3B Jake Gautreau (19th), Tennessee 2B Chris Burke (23rd), Auburn OF Gabe Gross (25th), Southern 2B Mike Woods (38th) and the LSU pair of OF Todd Linden (31st) and 2B Mike Fontenot (42nd).

THE X FACTORS? – Four ND players batted roughly 100 points lower in ND’s 11 losses than in the 46 wins, including the entire starting outfield-junior CF Steve Stanley (.396 in wins, .289 in losses), sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (,401, .297) and sophomore LF Kris Billmaier (.252, .154)-plus junior DH Ken Meyer (.318, .222).

OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE – ND’s top hitters in games played outside the BIG EAST regular season are the same three who lead the team in overall batting average: freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (.394, .373 overall), sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (.392, .376 overall) and junior CF Steve Stanley (.376, .379 overall) … those three are bunched closely atop ND’s overall 2000 batting charts, separated by just six points (Stavisky would be leading the team in batting with one more hit , Sollmann with two more) … two ND players hit noticeably better during the 2001 BIG EAST season than in non-conference action: junior 3B Andrew Bushey (2nd-best in BE with .425 conference batting avg., .284 in all other games) and senior SS Alec Porzel (.333, .244) … Bushey hit an eye-popping 141 points higher in BIG EAST games while Porzel was 89 points higher.

SAVVY AS A VETERAN – Freshman 2B Steve Sollmann has been ND’s most clutch hitter this season-at least based on the criteria of performance in games decided by 0-2 runs … in those games (ND was 11-8-1), Sollmann led the Irish with a .442 batting average (34-for-77), plus 14 RBI … other top ND hitters in those close games include (as expected) junior CF Steve Stanley (.414) and sophomroe RF Brian Stavisky-with the rest of the regulars hitting below .290 (the rest of the team hit just a combined .239 in those close games).

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE – Senior SS Alec Porzel’s comeback from a rough start to the 2001 season has resulted in a huge 189-point difference in his season batting avg. at Eck Stadium (.394) and in all road games (.205) … others who have been boosted at The Eck include junior DH Matt Bok (.392 at home, .175 on road) and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (team-best .463, .312) … two ND players actually are hitting 30-plus points higher away from home: junior 3B Andrew Bushey (.357, .324) and freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (team-best .387, .356).

WELCOME TO ECK … NOW CATCH UP – The Irish have posted a 31-2 first-inning scoring edge at Eck Stadium this season while outscoring opponents at Eck in every inning but the 8th (7-17) and by a 201-96 overall margin.

EXTRA CREDIT – A boost in strength has seen junior CF Steve Stanley make a jump in his extra-base output in 2001 … in addition to hitting the first home run of his career, Stanley has hit 13 doubles this season (compared to six in 1999 and 10 in 2000) while leading the BIG EAST with five overall triples (he had just one in ’99 and two in 2000).

GOING FOR MORE – Junior OF Matt Strickroth has collected six singles and six extra-base hits during the 2001 season, with four home runs and a pair of doubles.

ROOKIE RUSH – Irish freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (batting .410 at end of March) and rookie 1B Joe Thaman (.299 heading into April) made major early-season productions as members of a veteran Irish offense that struggled to hit the ball consistently during the first month of the season… their strong starts were all the more noteworthy considering the early-season struggles of recent Irish players during their freshman seasons, including Alec Porzel in 1998, Steve Stanley in 1999 (he opened 0-for-17) and Brian Stavisky in 2000.

BYOB(rooms)?: – ND has seen firsthand how challenging it can be to sweep a three-game series on the road despite being the BIG EAST’s winningest team since ’96 (101-32, .759) … in their first five seasons, ND managed to sweep just two of 10 three-game series at opposing BIG EAST stadiums: at BC in ’98, at Georgetown in ’99 … the brooms were dusted off earlier this season when ND became the first BIG EAST team ever to sweep a 3-game series at Rutgers (10-2, 8-2 and 5-4 in 11 inn.) before doing it again at St. John’s (3-2, 5-0, 7-3) and nearly pulling it off at BC (8-4, 8-2, 6-7) … ND’s other three-game BIG EAST road series have included: at GU in ’96 (2-1), at Seton Hall in ’97 (0-3), at RU in ’97 (2-1), at SHU in ’98 (2-1), at SJU in ’99 (1-2) and 2000 series at Villanova, UConn and West Virginia (all 2-1) … the Irish never played a three-game series at Providence and have yet to do so at Pittsburgh … ND’s all-time road record in three-game BIG EAST series is 27-12.

WORKING O.T. – ND is 9-0-1 in its last 10 extra-inning games, since losing 10-7 to Boston College on April 17, 1999 (7-inn. game that ended in the 8th) … that streak includes a rare happening of three consecutive extra-inning games at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic, with the Irish tying Navy (4-4 in 10) before beating Fresno State (5-4 in 10) and Miami of Ohio (3-2 in 11) … in addition to the 11-inning win earlier this season at Mississippi State (4-2) and the recent 11-inning win at Rutgers (5-4), the extra-inning streak includes wins over Oakland (7-6 in 10, 4/30/99), Villanova (7-3 in 10, 3/25/00), West Virginia (3-1 in 7-inn. game extended to 10, 4/15/00), Michigan (5-4 in 11, 4/26/00) and Pittsburgh (11-8 in 10, 5/6/00) … the VU and WVU games were on the road, the Michigan win was at Old Kent Park (Grand Rapids, Mich.).

ROAD WARRIORS – ND was 24-5-1 away from home in the regular season (21-4 at Eck Stadium) … ND’s 14-3 record on the opponent’s field nearly was 17-0 (with two late-inning losses at Virginia Tech, 3-2 and 9-8, and another at BC, 7-6).

SPRINT TO 20-30-40 – ND reached 20 wins (20-4-1) faster than any of the program’s previous 92 teams, dating back to the 20-1 start in 1908 … the 2000 Irish squad tied the ND record for quickest to 30 wins (30-9) set by three previous teams, with the 2001 ND team then besting that record by reaching 30 wins in 36 games (30-5-1) … finally, the Irish reached 40 wins (40-6-1) three games sooner than the program’s previous best (40-10, in 1990).

ON A ROLL – ND has captured the 2000-01 BIG EAST Conference Commissioner’s Trophy for men’s athletics as well as the trophy for women’s athletics-the fifth consecutive season that the Irish have earned both trophies and the sixth consecutive for the ND men’s program … the ND women were paced by 1st-place finishes in soccer, volleyball, swimming & diving, tennis and softball as well as a tie for the regular-season women’s basketball title … the men won the baseball regular-season crown and were helped by a 1st-place divisional showing in basketball (the Irish men also finished second in tennis and third in indoor track & field) … ND took at least a share of the title in a league-best eight sports … in the men’s standings, ND finished 17.5 points ahead of Georgetown (86.5-69) while the ND women tallied 33 more points than 2nd-place UConn (111-78) … the men’s trophy was first awarded in 1979-80, the league’s inaugural year, while the women’s trophy was first awarded in ’82-83.