May 11, 2016
by Tony Jones
#20/23 Notre Dame at the 2016 ACC Championship
May 12-14, 2016
Dail Softball Stadium
Raleigh, North Carolina
#20/23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, ACC Championship No. 3 Seed
Notre Dame ACC Championship Schedule
No. 20/23 Notre Dame (3) vs. Virginia Tech (6) – Thursday, 7:30 p.m. (ET)/RSN, ESPN3
ACC Championship Semifinal #2 – Friday, 3:30 p.m. (ET)/RSN, ESPN3
ACC Championship Final – Saturday, 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPN, WatchESPN
The top eight teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) have descended on Raleigh, North Carolina for the 2016 ACC Softball Championship, which will be held May 12-14 at the Dail Softball Stadium on the campus of NC State. The single-elimination tournament features seven games over three days with extensive coverage available via the ESPN family of networks and the Regional Sports Network (RSN).
Seeded third in the championship field for the second straight season, No. 20/23 Notre Dame (39-10) will play the fourth and final quarterfinal game of Thursday’s opening day against No. 6 seed Virginia Tech at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
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.
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame improved to 39-10 this season by taking two of three games from NC State in the final Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series of the 2016 season May 7-8 at Melissa Cook Stadium.
– Notre Dame qualified for the ACC Championship for the third straight season since joining the conference prior to the 2014 softball campaign. The Irish are seeded third in the ACC tournament for the second consecutive year.
– Notre Dame is 37-21 (.638) in conference championship play since 1995, winning six BIG EAST titles (1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009) while finishing as a conference tournament runner-up on seven other occasions.
– Notre Dame has played 126 games ranked among the national top 25 during the careers of the class of 2016, the most ranked games any Notre Dame graduating class has ever been a part of. The Irish are ranked No. 20/23 in the major national polls entering the ACC Championship.
– Freshman Caitlyn Brooks became the fifth Notre Dame player to earn a 2016 weekly conference honor by being named the final ACC Player of the Week on May 9.
– Junior co-captain Karley Wester was named one of the Top 25 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award for the second straight season on April 13. Wester is the third Notre Dame player in the last four seasons to be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award after being named one of 26 finalists in 2015. Sister Ali Wester was named one of 25 finalists for the Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year award on April 21.
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 28th straight season with a .500 record or better with an 11-3 win in five innings over IUPUI on April 5 at Melissa Cook Stadium. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has also logged 28 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
Irish Close Senior Weekend In Style
The only response to an explosive offensive opening to the series between Notre Dame and NC State was an effective pitching performance. Senior Allie Rhodes delivered for the Irish, spinning a six-hit shutout on Senior Day to lift Notre Dame over NC State 4-0 on May 8 at Melissa Cook Stadium in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play.
No. 19/21 Notre Dame earned the series victory against NC State, taking two out of three games from the Wolfpack on the weekend. The Irish closed the series with a .391 team batting average, 34 hits that included 12 for extra bases, 23 RBI and five stolen bases.
Irish Seeded Third For Second Straight ACC Tourney
Notre Dame placed third in the ACC regular season standings during its third season in the conference, following a two games to one series victory over NC State on May 8 at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish were selected second in the preseason ACC predicted order of finish, as voted on by conference head coaches.
Notre Dame countered series setbacks at the hands of Syracuse and North Carolina with three-game sweeps of Virginia and Virginia Tech, along with crucial two-game splits with Florida State and Louisville, to post a 13-7 ACC record in 2016.
Irish Offense Still Setting The Standard
Notre Dame has regularly been recognized as one of the top offensive clubs in ACC softball since joining the conference prior to the 2014 season. Thanks to steady and consistent production at the plate, the Irish have extended that reputation into 2016.
After 49 regular season games, Notre Dame is the ACC leader with a .355 team batting average (fifth in the NCAA) and 485 hits to go along with a league-high 46 sacrifice hits. The Irish are also second in runs scored (352), RBI (320), doubles (79), triples (10) and total bases (689).
Notre Dame had three different hitters, junior co-captain Karley Wester (.447, first), freshman Ali Wester (.419, second) and freshman Melissa Rochford (.398, sixth), ranked among the top six hitters in the ACC as of May 9, the most of any team in the conference.
Brooks Takes Home ACC POTW
Freshman Caitlyn Brooks has remained one of the essential components at the heart of the Irish lineup throughout the 2016 softball season, regularly hosting powerful hitting displays in her first collegiate softball campaign. A stellar three-game set with NC State in the closing ACC series of the season netted the Notre Dame designated player the year’s final ACC Player of the Week award on May 9.
Brooks was the most difficult hitter to retire during a Notre Dame series win against NC State that featured 44 combined runs between the teams. The Burbank, California native finished with a .667 batting average in nine official at-bats, clocking five extra base hits that included four doubles and one home run, to go along with seven RBI and three runs scored. Brooks also slugged 1.444 for the weekend and drew three walks to reach base at a .750 clip.
Arizmendi Closes Out Strong Conference Career
An always-prodigious power hitter for Notre Dame throughout its first three seasons as an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member, senior Micaela Arizmendi has found a multitude of offensive success during conference series.
Arizmendi appeared in 80 career BIG EAST and ACC games (74 starts) since the 2013 season, batting .410 with 29 doubles, 19 home runs and 84 RBI in conference play. She added a .815 slugging percentage and .466 on-base percentage to go along with 54 runs scored in league games.
Arizmendi was Notre Dame’s hits (24), doubles (7), home runs (6) and RBI (29) leader in ACC play in 20 conference starts this season after adding a double and five RBI against NC State on May 7-8.
Reed Riding High
Sophomore Morgan Reed has ignited the Notre Dame lineup from the middle of the Irish batting order over her past 19 games, posting a .475 batting average with 28 hits and 18 runs scored.
Reed is the Notre Dame team leader with nine multi-hit efforts in her last 19 starts, reaching base safely in every Notre Dame game since April 3.
Westers On The Verge Of USA Softball POTY, NFCA FOTY Top 10
Junior co-captain Karley Wester was named one of the Top 25 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award for the second straight season on April 13. Wester, the top hitter in the ACC, is the first Notre Dame finalist in consecutive seasons in the history of the award (Top 26 Finalist in 2015).
Freshman Ali Wester joined her sister as a national award candidate when the top 25 finalists for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award were revealed on April 21. The Wester sisters are the first siblings to be considered for the award since its inception in 2014 (Karley was among three finalists in 2014).
Irish Against The ACC
Notre Dame officially opened its third season in the ACC at Virginia on March 12. Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, the Irish are a combined 159-54 (.746) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Field
Notre Dame is a combined 133-50 (.727) all-time against the other seven teams in the ACC Championship.
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 at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.