March 13, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) has been named the national freshman of the year by the United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA), it was announced Wednesday. Batteast is the first Irish rookie ever to win the award, and she is only the second BIG EAST Conference freshman to be so recognized (after Connecticut’s Shea Ralph in 1997).
Batteast has been one of the focal points of Notre Dame’s return to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season, despite losing three starters from last year’s NCAA championship squad. She ranks in the top 10 in the BIG EAST in scoring (14.2 ppg.), rebounding (8.2 rpg.), field goal percentage (.405), blocked shots (1.46 bpg.) and double-doubles (11), and she has scored in double figures in 19 games this season (with six 20-point outings to her credit).
Wednesday’s honor is the latest major accolade in a star-studded rookie season for Batteast. In just the last two weeks, she has been named a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America selection, the unanimous BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, a second-team all-BIG EAST pick and a unanimous BIG EAST All-Rookie Team choice.
The St. Louis-based USBWA is the largest sportswriters organization in the country and is comprised of nearly 1,000 sports journalists. Founded in 1956, the USBWA began honoring the accomplishments of women’s coaches and players in 1988.
Another Notre Dame player also has received national recognition. On Tuesday evening, junior guard Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich HS) picked up honorable mention All-America laurels from the Associated Press. It’s the second time in three seasons Ratay has been earned AP honorable mention All-America status – she also garnered that distinction following the 1999-2000 season.
Ratay leads the BIG EAST in scoring (15.7 ppg.) and free throw percentage (.886), and ranks second in the league with a .424 three-point percentage. She also ranks 14th in the country in free throw accuracy and 16th in three-point percentage. In addition, Ratay has been at her best in Notre Dame’s last five games, scoring 131 points (26.2 ppg.), the second-highest five-game output in school history. She now needs just one rebound and three assists to become the fifth Irish player ever to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in her career.
Seventh-seeded Notre Dame (19-9) will open NCAA Tournament play Friday at 6:06 p.m. (EST) when it squares off with No. 10 seed New Mexico in the first round of the Midwest Regional at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. The game is being televised by ESPN Fullcourt and can be seen in the South Bend area on WHME-TV (Channel 46).
– ND –