March 8, 2016
by Tony Jones
#20/23 Notre Dame at Florida International
March 9, 2016
Felsberg Field at FIU Stadium
#20/23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame-FIU Doubleheader Schedule
Wednesday, March 9
Fresh off a four-game tournament sweep at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic last weekend in Fort Myers, Florida, the University of Notre Dame softball team is in Miami for a midweek doubleheader at Florida International for the next games of the Irish Spring Break tour. The Wednesday twin bill is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. (ET) at Felsberg Field at FIU Stadium.
No. 20/23 Notre Dame (16-3) has won its last 12 games dating back to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in February, and is making its last non-conference stop of 2016 before beginning Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play on Saturday at Virginia. The all-time series between Notre Dame and FIU is tied 2-2, with the Irish emerging from a 13-inning affair against the Panthers with a 4-3 win in the most recent meeting on March 13, 2014.
Live stats for both games at FIU will be available via CBS Gametracker. A paid video stream will also be offered by Panther Vision at FIUSports.com.
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 capped its first trip to Florida Gulf Coast University last weekend with a 4-0 tournament stop at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic in Fort Myers. The Irish outscored opponents Stony Brook, FGCU and Ball State by a combined 24-5 run count during the event, outhitting foes at a 42-14 clip.
– Notre Dame’s current 12-game winning streak is tied with fellow Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member Florida State for the fifth-longest victory surge in NCAA Division I softball. The 16-3 start for Notre Dame matches the second-best start in the history of the program, equaling the first 19 results for the 2014 Irish squad.
– Senior pitcher Allie Rhodes earned her first career weekly conference award by being named the ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week on Monday after logging an unbeaten record for the second straight tournament. Rhodes strung together two impressive starts to claim a 2-0 record at the FGCU Spring Break Classic, scattering five hits in 13 innings of work, walking one batter while striking out 14 opposing hitters.
– With an RBI single in the fourth inning of Sunday’s 7-0 win against Stony Brook, junior co-captain Karley Wester became the 22nd player in Notre Dame softball history to surpass 200 hits for a career. Wester needed only 129 games to achieve the milestone, an average of more than 1.5 hits per game, to break the Irish record pace to 200 hits in 165 contests set by three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (’15).
– In Monday’s release of updated ACC softball statistics, Notre Dame boasted a conference-best four players in the top nine of cumulative batting average amongst all league hitters. Junior co-captain Karley Wester led the ACC to start the week with a .480 average, with freshman Melissa Rochford checking in third at .460. Freshman Ali Wester was sixth with a .418 average, while sophomore Bailey Bigler held the ninth spot with a .415 mark.
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 27th straight season with a .500 record or better with a 42-15 final mark to close the 2015 campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has logged 28 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
ND Completes Perfect Trip To FGCU
With its offense clicking on all cylinders, Notre Dame had all the run producing mojo it needed. A four-hit pitching performance in the circle solidified a 7-0 shutout of Stony Brook and a 7-1 win over Ball State for the Irish to sweep the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic last Sunday at the FGCU Softball Complex.
Along with Saturday wins over Stony Brook (4-3) and FGCU (6-1), Notre Dame extended its current winning streak to 12 games with its third straight tournament sweep, outscoring its three weekend opponents by a combined 24-5 run count.
The 16-3 start for Notre Dame matches the second-best start in the history of the program, equaling the first 19 results for the 2014 Irish squad.
Rhodes Recognized As Exemplary ACC Weekly Performer
After a second straight dominant weekend in the circle Notre Dame senior pitcher Allie Rhodes was named the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Co-Pitcher of the Week on Monday, sharing the honor with Florida State’s Jessica Burroughs. The ACC Pitcher of the Week nod was the first career weekly conference citation for Rhodes, and was the first such award earned by a Notre Dame player in 2016.
Rhodes strung together two impressive starts to log a 2-0 record at the FGCU Spring Break Classic this past weekend in Fort Myers, Florida. The Kirkland, Washington native allowed five hits in 13 innings of work, walking one batter while striking out 14 opposing hitters.
Dating back to a start against Cal Poly on Feb. 20, Rhodes is 6-0 with a 1.24 ERA and two saves, posting 45 strikeouts to only five walks in 39.2 innings pitched. She is Notre Dame’s team leader with seven wins, two saves and 72 strikeouts in 12 appearances (nine starts) thus far this season, all totals that rank in the top three of the ACC.
Westy Joins Elite ND Company
Entering Spring Break with 194 career hits, junior co-captain Karley Wester was on the verge of adding her name to another chapter of the Notre Dame program record book.
Wester became the 22nd player in Irish history to reach the 200-hit plateau for a career with an RBI single in the fourth inning on Sunday against Stony Brook. Wester needed only 129 games to achieve the milestone, an average of more than 1.5 hits per game, in breaking the Irish record pace to 200 hits. Three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (’15) played in 165 games before recording her 200th hit in an Irish uniform, a team benchmark that Wester shattered by 36 games on Sunday.
Of the 30 NCAA Division players that opened the week with 200 or more career hits, Wester was the only active non-senior that has reached the milestone. The ACC leader with 81 hits as a freshman in 2014 and 84 hits as a sophomore in 2015, Wester leads all ACC batters with 36 hits through her first 19 starts this season.
Ali Completes A Wester 1-2 Punch
With sister and junior co-captain Karley Wester guiding the Notre Dame batting order from the leadoff spot, freshman Ali Wester has emerged as an equally dangerous threat in the two-hole directly behind her All-American sibling.
For the second straight tournament the younger Wester was Notre Dame’s most efficient offensive player, batting an even .500 with four RBI, five stolen bases and five runs scored in an Irish four-game sweep at the FGCU Spring Break Classic. In her last 10 starts, Wester leads all Notre Dame hitters with a .536 batting average and 17 hits, adding nine RBI, seven stolen bases and 11 runs scored.
In fact, by each scoring 11 runs in Notre Dame’s last 10 wins, the Westers have equaled the total number of times Irish foes have crossed the plate, 11, in that same span.
Rochford Emerges As Efficient On-Base Threat
After 19 career games at Notre Dame, freshman Melissa Rochford has made a speedy adjustment to both the offensive and defensive paces of the college game. Playing airtight at third base has helped to guide the Irish defensive corps to start the season, but Rochford’s biggest contributions have been to the offensive attack.
Rochford enters play on Wednesday at FIU as the Notre Dame and ACC leader with a .554 on-base percentage, and ranks second on the Irish roster (third in the ACC) with a .460 batting average. Her eight walks and five times hit by pitch are also team-highs.
Brooks Continues Producing Runs
With a three-hit and four RBI performance in her first career start against No. 18 Kentucky on Feb. 12, freshman Caitlyn Brooks started her Notre Dame tenure with an offensive explosion. The Burbank, California native has continued to deliver in the heart of the Notre Dame lineup to power a potent Irish attack.
Brooks, Notre Dame’s team leader with three home runs and a .667 slugging percentage, has added 19 RBI in 17 games to rank second on the Irish roster. Brooks has driven in at least one run in six straight starts, with 12 total RBI in her last nine starts alone.
After 19 Notre Dame games in 2016, Brooks and senior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi lead all Irish hitters with six multi-RBI games and five doubles each.
Coach Gumpf Wins #600 At ND
Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf earned her 600th career victory at the helm of the Irish thanks to a 5-1 win over No. 22 Central Florida on Feb. 26 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Gumpf became the third Notre Dame coach to surpass the win milestone at the helm of an Irish varsity program. Legendary fencing coach Michael DeCicco (799) and Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw (730 as of March 8) are believed to be the only other varsity athletics mentors to win 600 games during their Notre Dame tenures.
Gumpf enters play at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic with a career record of 607-238-1 (.718) in her 15th season at Notre Dame, with her winning percentage total ranking among the top 15 active coaches in NCAA Division I softball.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 2-2 all-time against FIU, outlasting the Panthers 4-3 in 13 innings in the most recent meeting between the teams on March 13, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant 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.