March 22, 2003

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The Notre Dame baseball team (9-5) – ranked as high as 19th in the national polls – is slated to conclude its season-opening road stretch with a three-game BIG EAST series vs. Villanova, at the Wildcats’ new home park (Villanova Ballpark, at Plymouth Community Center) … the series was shifted to a Sunday (March 23, noon DH) and Monday (11:00 a.m.) format to wet field conditions … the Irish have won seven of their last eight games, including a 6-1 showing during Spring Break at the Kennel Club Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. (with the lone loss coming in extra innings at Jacksonville University) … ND’s starting pitcher rotation (in order) is scheduled to include sophomore RHPs Chris Niesel and John Axford and senior RHPs Ryan Kalita (senior RHP Peter Ogilvie is sidelined with a sore shoulder) … the Irish – coming off a landmark 2002 season that ended with a trip to the College World Series (the program’s first CWS appearance since ’57) – played four games vs. teams ranked in the top 20 (three in the top seven) during the first two weeks of the season … 9th-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri is nearing the 700-win milestone for his career (he is 695-426-1, in 21 seasons).

FOLLOWING THE ACTION – ESPN Radio 1620 (WDND) and its sister station WDNV 1490 AM again will provide commercial broadcasts of the entire ND season … bonus gametracker “live stats” will not be available for the Villanova series, due to limited phone-line availability (check main page for links when applicable).

EARLY HONORS – Junior 2B Steve Sollmann was named BIG EAST player of the week after hitting 8-for-17 (.471) in the season-opening four games, then earned it again after batting .478 (11-for-23) in the final six games of the Kennel Club Classic … senior RHP J.P. Gagne (6 shutout IP) was named BIG EAST pitcher of the week for his win in the 13-inning game vs. #7 Wake Forest at Minnesota’s DQ Classic, with sophomore RHP Chris Niesel picking up the award for his strong 8 IP vs. Eastern Illinois (0 E, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 Ks).