July 25, 2017
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One of the best catchers in the history of the University of Notre Dame softball program, former two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association of America (NFCA) All-Region selection Cassidy Whidden (B.A. ’15, M.Ed. `17) has returned to her alma mater as the team’s softball operations specialist.
Whidden is the third person to hold the Irish softball operations role since it was created in the summer of 2012, succeeding fellow Notre Dame softball alumna Kasey O’Connor (’12) and past senior manager John Whitty (’10). O’Connor served as the Notre Dame softball operations coordinator from the 2015 through 2017 seasons, after Whitty was a member of the immediate Irish softball support staff during the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
Whidden’s primary responsibilities include assisting the Notre Dame coaching staff in coordinating team travel and special events, along with primary oversight of the program’s social media initiatives and promotional activities. Like her predecessors, she is also the team’s liaison with the Murnane Family Ticket Office, Notre Dame Athletics Marketing, Fighting Irish Media, and other support staff within Notre Dame Athletics.
“Cassidy’s spirit, energy, hard work and character are what we are so excited to have back,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “Cassidy has a proven success story that was solely due to her hard work. That quality is what we want around Notre Dame softball every single day.”
A four-time monogram winner at Notre Dame from 2012-15, Whidden was a member of the final Irish BIG EAST Conference championship team (2013 regular season), conference runner-up during the inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season for Notre Dame in 2014, four regional appearances in the NCAA Championship, and the first Irish softball team to host NCAA tournament games at Melissa Cook Stadium with the 2015 NCAA South Bend Regional. The Irish advanced to three NCAA Regional finals during Whidden’s playing career.
Whidden appeared in 184 games for the Irish (146 starts), with starts split between catcher and designated player. She was a career .286 hitter with 23 doubles, 35 home runs, 120 RBI, a .597 slugging percentage, a .406 on-base percentage and 100 runs scored. Whidden remains Notre Dame’s career leader in hit by pitch (32), and ranks in the top 10 of all Irish players in slugging percentage (fifth), home runs (tied for fifth) and fielding percentage (eighth – .989). She is one of only eight Notre Dame players to ever hit 10 or more home runs in consecutive seasons.
The right-handed catcher closed her senior season in 2015 as an NFCA All-Region second-team selection after batting .271 with career highs in doubles (10), home runs (13), RBI (46) and runs scored (38) in 57 starts. Whidden’s 28 walks and 15 times hit by pitch (HBP total is an Irish record for a single season) led all Notre Dame players, as did her 331 total putouts behind the plate. She also contributed 12 multiple-RBI games in 2015, to go along with a .311 batting average (19-for-61) with runners in scoring position.
Returning from a knee injury suffered the previous postseason, Whidden enjoyed a breakout campaign for Notre Dame in 2014. She was an NFCA All-Region first-team and All-ACC third-team choice as a junior, batting a career-high .336 with 49 hits, eight doubles, 11 home runs, 35 RBI, a .616 slugging percentage and 32 runs in 52 games (50 starts) for the top hitting club (.357 team average) in NCAA Division I softball. Whidden hit at a .340 clip (18-for-53) with runners in scoring position in 2014, and drove in 17 of 35 total RBI with two outs. Her .994 fielding percentage in 322 chances behind the plate remains one of the greatest defensive seasons by an Irish catcher.
Whidden broke into the Notre Dame lineup as the team’s primary designated player as a sophomore in 2013, earning All-BIG EAST third-team accolades that season. She batted .287 with five doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 31 RBI, career highs in slugging percentage (.649), on-base percentage (.437) and stolen bases (11), and scored 26 runs in 49 games (34 starts). Whidden was second on the Irish roster with an impressive .381 clip (16-for-42) with runners in scoring position and drove in a remarkable 26 of 31 total RBI with two outs, before her season ended at the 2013 NCAA Lexington (Kentucky) Regional.
Whidden re-joins the Notre Dame softball program after spending the past two years as a fourth-grade through eighth-grade social studies teacher at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic School in Dallas. The position was part of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program, where ACE Teaching Fellows complete Master of Education coursework while teaching full-time. Along with teaching duties, Whidden also served as a coach for softball, cross country and soccer at St. Elizabeth.
A native of Parrish, Florida, Whidden graduated with a dual degree in film, television and theatre and history from the College of Arts and Letters in May of 2015. She received a Master of Education degree and teaching certification from Notre Dame after completion of her ACE fellowship in May of 2017. Whidden is one of three Irish softball alumnae on the immediate coaching and support staff, along with associate coaches Kris Ganeff (’99) and Lizzy Ristano (’01).
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.
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 and men’s soccer 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.