April 15, 2016
by Tony Jones
#19/20 Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
April 16-17, 2016
Tech Softball Park
#19/20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(29-6, 6-3 ACC)
Virginia Tech Hokies
(21-21, 10-5 ACC)
Notre Dame-Virginia Tech ACC Weekend Schedule
Sunday, April 17
No. 19/20 Notre Dame at Virginia Tech – 1 p.m. (ET)/ESPN3
Following an extended leave inside the friendly confines of Melissa Cook Stadium, the University of Notre Dame softball team returns to the road this weekend with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series at Virginia Tech. All three games from the ACC set from the Tech Softball Park in Blacksburg, Virginia will air live on ESPN3.
No. 19/20 Notre Dame (29-6, 6-3 ACC) hits the road bound for Blacksburg riding a four-game winning streak, including two straight wins in the ACC, after shutting out Butler 5-0 on April 14. The Irish and Virginia Tech (21-21, 10-5 ACC) are tied for third place in the updated ACC standings entering the weekend with matching .667 winning percentages in conference play.
Notre Dame is 3-2 all-time against Virginia Tech at Tech Softball Park, with the Hokies taking the most recent series against the Irish during the 2014 season two games to one. Notre Dame enters the weekend slate riding a five-game winning streak overall against Virginia Tech after completing a weekend sweep at Melissa Cook Stadium against the then No. 24 Hokies on March 28-29, 2015.
Along with live video coverage on ESPN3, live stats will be available for all three of this weekend’s game via HokiesSports.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 has won 18 straight nonconference home games in the regular season dating back to March of 2013 after a 5-0 shutout of Butler on April 14. Including the 2016 tournament schedule, Notre Dame has downed 19 consecutive nonconference opponents since Feb. 20.
– Notre Dame outlasted both the elements and a potent Pittsburgh offensive attack on April 10 in a 13-1 ACC rout in five innings at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish and Panthers saw their conference series shortened to one game due to inclement weather, and Notre Dame emerged victorious for the 33rd time in 36 all-time meetings with Pittsburgh since the 1999 season.
– Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 16 conference series at Melissa Cook Stadium, which have spanned both the BIG EAST Conference and the ACC. The Irish have won 12 league matchups and split four other two-game series at home in conference play dating back to the 2012 season.
– Notre Dame defeated its fourth top 25 foe of the 2016 season by claiming a 5-4 win in the bottom of the seventh inning over No. 9/8 Florida State on April 3. The Irish have knocked off at least one top 25 opponent at Melissa Cook Stadium in each of the last four seasons.
– 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, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced 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, joining three-time All-American and Top 10 Finalist Emilee Koerner (’15) in 2013.
– 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 Conclude Successful Homestand
Notre Dame’s 5-0 win over Butler on April 14 capped a 5-1 homestand at Melissa Cook Stadium, and was the 18th consecutive nonconference victory in the regular season by the Irish at home since 2013. In fact, Notre Dame has compiled one of the best home stretches in program history by posting a 50-9 (.847) overall mark at Melissa Cook Stadium in that span factoring in all games played.
Since the stadium opened for play during the 2008 campaign Notre Dame is an impressive 130-22-1 (.853) at home, including regular and postseason games.
Irish In Top Form In Win Over Pitt
Notre Dame scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, most of which was played during a steady rain shower, on its way to defeating Pittsburgh 13-1 in five innings on a soggy but successful day at Melissa Cook Stadium April 10.
Sunday’s scheduled second game of the ACC doubleheader was officially canceled due to the accumulation of rain on the playing surface, as the opening contest was delayed on two separate occasions for over an hour of total time due to inclement weather. The standalone meeting in the originally slated three-game league set between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh gave the abbreviated conference series to the Irish.
The Pitt Game Was Over When…
After junior Rachel Nasland worked around a leadoff walk in the top of the first inning to slam the door on Pittsburgh, Notre Dame took complete command of the contest in the bottom of the opening frame.
Freshman Caitlyn Brooks blasted off on a 1-1 pitch with two outs to send a deep two-run home run over the center field wall that put the Irish in front 2-0, a lead Notre Dame would not relinquish. The Irish added two runs in the second, three runs in the third and six runs in the fourth inning to overwhelm the Pittsburgh defense.
Production From 6-9 Lifts Irish
The bottom half of the Notre Dame offense flexed its offensive muscles during the 13-1 run-rule victory over Pittsburgh on April 10, finishing the day as the most efficient and dangerous part of the order.
Irish hitters slotted sixth through ninth in that game’s lineup, which included sophomore Morgan Reed, freshman Maddie McCracken, senior Megan Sorlie and sophomore Bailey Bigler, batted a combined 7-for-11 (.636) with seven RBI, four doubles and six runs scored in the win over Pittsburgh.
Mo Puts Together The Perfect Week
Sophomore Morgan Reed continued to find her offensive stroke during last week’s pair of games at Melissa Cook Stadium, turning in two stellar performances to guide the Irish batting order.
Reed finished a combined 5-for-5 with one walk against IUPUI and Pittsburgh, adding one double, one stolen base, three RBI and a team-high five runs scored for the week. Reed was 3-for-3 with two RBI and three runs scored over the first four innings against Pittsburgh, alone.
Reed enters this weekend’s series against Virginia Tech as one of eight Notre Dame players batting .300 or above (.306) after the season’s first 35 games, and has chipped in seven doubles, 20 RBI and 25 runs scored thus far in 2016.
Sorlie Returns In A Big Way
After missing five games due to injury, senior Megan Sorlie has re-entered the Notre Dame lineup red hot in her past five starts dating back to a doubleheader with No. 9/8 Florida State on April 3. Sorlie logged a team-best .600 (6-for-10) batting average in that span, chipping in three doubles, three sacrifice hits, six RBI and two runs scored in the 4-1 Irish surge.
Along with sophomore Morgan Reed, Sorlie reached base in all of her official plate appearances against both IUPUI (April 5) and Pittsburgh (April 10), driving in a total of five runs during the undefeated Notre Dame week.
Irish Extend Historical Edge In Pitt Series
Notre Dame emerged victorious for the 33rd time in 36 all-time meetings against Pittsburgh with its 13-1 win over the Panthers in five innings on April 10. The Irish have claimed at least one win against Pittsburgh in every calendar year since 1999 except for 2014 (series canceled due to inclement weather), and are now 32-2 (.941) during in-season conference games against the Panthers that has spanned both the BIG EAST (1999-2013) and ACC (2015-present).
Of the 33 total Notre Dame wins throughout the history of the Pittsburgh series, 24 Irish victories have come by a margin of five or more runs.
Wester Again A USA Softball POY Top 25 Finalist
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 first Notre Dame finalist in consecutive seasons in the history of the award (Top 26 Finalist in 2015).
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 152-50 (.752) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 16-6 (.727) all-time against Virginia Tech in a series that has spanned both the BIG EAST and ACC since the 2000 season.
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.