Katie Fleury

BIG EAST Three-Game Series At Villanova Starts Thursday

April 20, 2011

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – No. 23 Notre Dame travels to Villanova for a three-game BIG EAST Conference softball showdown beginning with a Thursday (April 21) doubleheader at noon (ET). The two teams will square off for one game at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

The Irish are third in the league standings with a 7-1 mark in conference play. But Notre Dame’s 31-8 overall record and .795 winning pct. tops the league, leading to a No. 23 ranking in the latest USA Softball Top 25 poll. The Irish are 24th in the NFCA poll.

Villanova dropped five BIG EAST road games last week, including a doubleheader at St. John’s and three games at Syracuse. The Wildcats are currently on an eight-game skid.

Notre dame went 5-1 at home last week with the lone defeat coming to Louisville. In fact, Louisville was the last BIG EAST team to down Notre Dame on its home turf in the form of a late-season loss in 2009. The 9-6 loss to Louisville on Sunday snapped Notre Dame’s season-best 14-game winning streak.

The Irish used freshman Lauren Stuhr’s three-run, walk-off home run to get by Louisville in the series opener, 8-5, on Saturday.

Live stats and video will be available for the Villanova series on UND.com.

No. 23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(31-8 overall / 7-1 BIG EAST)
[und.com – bigeast.org]

Villanova Wildcats
(15-26-1 overall / 2-12 BIG EAST)
[villanova.com – bigeast.org]

Villanova Softball Complex – Villanova, Pa.
Thursday, April 21 – Noon (ET) / 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 17 – 11:00 a.m.

Series: Notre Dame leads, 39-4 (33-3 BIG EAST)
Series streak: Notre Dame, W8
First meeting: 4.13.96 – Villanova, 4-1
Last meeting: 4.25.10 – Notre Dame, 10-0 (5)

Live video / stats: UND.com
IRISH ALERT text message updates: UND.com
Twitter: @und_com / @ ndsoftball / @ndcoachgumpf
Facebook: facebook.com/unddotcom, facebook.com/notredameathletics

One-Hitters …
– Notre Dame is 7-1 in true road contests this season, with the only loss coming at Cal State Fullerton (March 16).
– For the third straight week – and fifth time in her Notre Dame career – Heather Johnson was named BIG EAST Player of the Week … since the league began handing out the weekly award in 1992, Johnson is the only player to earn the honor on three consecutive occasions.
– Johnson improved her current hitting streak to 21 consecutive games during last week’s three-game series with Louisville, the second-best active streak in the nation … that mark ties her with Dani Miller, who did so during her 2009 freshman campaign … Sadie Pitzenberger (26) is the school’s leader in that category … Johnson leads the nation with at least one RBI in each of the last 17 games.
– Last Time Out (April 17): Brittany O’Donnell was prompted from the bullpen in the third inning during game one of the doubleheader between No. 24 Notre Dame and Louisville, and answered with 5.0 innings of shutout ball to help the Irish secure a 4-3 comeback win … O’Donnell fanned seven batters around five hits … Notre Dame suffered its first BIG EAST loss of the season in game two, 9-6, after scoring six straight runs to begin the contest … the Cardinals used a nine-hit, nine-run sixth inning to post the win to close the day … Johnson homered in both ends of the doubleheader to bring her season total to 10.
– Last Meeting With Villanova (April 25, 2010): Notre Dame scored eight runs in the second inning as the Irish blanked the Wildcats, 10-0, in five innings … The Irish posted six hits and used three Wildcat errors to do the deed in the second … Christine Lux celebrated her Senior Day with a 2-for-3 showing at the plate, and her RBI-single in the second stanza put her in a tie with Jarrah Myers for the BIG EAST’s career record (64) … Jody Valdivia fired home a two-hit shutout with four strikeouts, needing just 69 pitches for her third win against Villanova in as many outings … Valdivia’s 15th shutout matched the program’s single-season record set by Terri Kobata.
– The Irish litter the top of the BIG EAST statistical rankings with their recent tremendous play in league contests … in the team rankings, Notre Dame is first in batting average (.378) and second in fielding (.974) … individually, Pitzenberger (.706) and Johnson (.600) are first and second, respectively, in batting average … Johnson is also tied for first in the home run department with six, while Pitzenberger paces the league with a .706 on-base pct. … Johnson holds sole possession of first with a 1.400 slugging pct. … O’Donnell’s 0.00 ERA leads the league.