March 21, 2016
by Tony Jones
#19 Notre Dame vs. Eastern Michigan and Michigan State
March 22-23, 2016
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana
#19 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Michigan State Spartans
Notre Dame Midweek Schedule
Tuesday, March 22
No. 19 Notre Dame vs. Eastern Michigan – 5 p.m. (ET)/WatchND
Wednesday, March 23
No. 19 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State – 5 p.m. (ET)/ESPN3
Following a five-day layoff after a feverish Spring Break slate, the University of Notre Dame softball team caps a three-game nonconference homestand with a pair of midweek showdowns at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish will entertain Eastern Michigan on Tuesday at 5 p.m. (ET) on WatchND before welcoming Michigan State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the first ESPN3 broadcast of Notre Dame softball live from Melissa Cook Stadium.
No. 19 Notre Dame (22-3) remains unbeaten over its last month of play after defeating Bowling Green 10-0 in five innings on March 17 in the 2016 Irish home opener. Notre Dame has won 18 consecutive games dating back to Feb. 19, outscoring opponents 148-39 in that span.
Notre Dame is 17-2 all-time against Eastern Michigan (9-14), dropping the Eagles 10-2 in six innings on April 1, 2015 in the most recent meeting between the teams. The Irish are 9-1 in their all-time series against Michigan State (16-12), routing the Spartans 16-1 in five innings in the 2015 regular season finale (April 28) in East Lansing.
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 kept its winning streak rolling with a 10-0 victory in five innings over Bowling Green on March 17 in the 2016 home opener at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning to open a lead they would not relinquish.
– Notre Dame has now won 14 straight nonconference home games in the regular season dating back to March of 2013. Since a defeat at DePaul on April 4, 2014, the Irish have won 16 straight midweek contests overall.
– Notre Dame opened ACC play a perfect 3-0 for the first time since joining the conference prior to the 2014 season with a three-game sweep at Virginia on March 12-13. The Irish have swept a season’s first conference series on 18 occasions during the program’s 28-year history.
– In Monday’s release of updated ACC softball statistics, Notre Dame boasted a conference-best four players in the top 10 of cumulative batting average amongst all league hitters. Freshman Melissa Rochford was second in the ACC with a .471 average as of March 21, while junior co-captain Karley Wester was third in the league at a .469 clip. Freshman Ali Wester was fourth with a .437 average, and sophomore Bailey Bigler checked in 10th at .382.
– Notre Dame’s current 18-game winning streak was the longest in the ACC as of March 21. The 22-3 record for Notre Dame matches the best start in the history of the program, equaling the first 25 results of the historic 2001 Irish squad that won a team record 54 games that season. – With its 10-0 win over Bowling Green on March 17, Notre Dame scored 10 or more runs in a game for the sixth time in 2016. The Irish have added 17 outings with nine or more team hits during their first 25 starts this season.
– With her six total RBI during Notre Dame’s nine-game Spring Break slate, senior infielder Micaela Arizmendi became the ninth player in program history to surpass the 150 career RBI mark. Arizmendi has averaged more than 40 runs batted in over parts of four seasons at Notre Dame, including a career-high 61 in 2014.
– 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.
Big First Inning Keeps Win Streak Rolling Against BGSU
A seven-run first inning provided the perfect opening act, and solid starting pitching in the circle completed the day for Notre Dame in the first game at Melissa Cook Stadium in 2016. The Irish added three additional runs to defeat Bowling Green 10-0 in five innings on March 17 in nonconference action.No. 19 Notre Dame extended its winning streak to 18 games with the victory, outhitting Bowling Green by a final 9-4 count in the contest. The Irish also chipped in three stolen bases.
Irish Remain Hot Inside The Confines Of The Cooker
Notre Dame’s 10-0 nonconference win over Bowling Green was the 14th 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 34-8 (.810) overall mark at Melissa Cook Stadium in that span.
Since the stadium opened for play during the 2008 campaign Notre Dame is an impressive 124-21-1 (.853) at home, including regular and postseason games.
Irish See Production From Top To Bottom Against BGSU
In the home-opening win against Bowling Green, seven of the nine Notre Dame batters in the starting lineup registered at least one base hit. Junior outfielder/co-captain Karley Wester and freshman infielder Melissa Rochford each had a pair of hits, while senior outfielder Megan Sorlie contributed a key three-run double from the eighth spot in the Irish order.
Fearsome Freshmen Powering The Irish
The five-member freshman class of Melissa Rochford, Ali Wester, Caitlyn Brooks, Maddie McCracken and MK Bonamy have been asked to fill immediate roles in the Notre Dame lineup during their rookie seasons. To say the group has delivered through the nonconference tournament slate would be an understatement.
After 25 games, the talented quintet is batting a combined .387 with 18 doubles, eight home runs, 80 RBI, 15 stolen bases and 82 runs scored.
Rochford, Wester and Brooks have remained three of the top freshmen in the entire ACC thus far in their rookie seasons, with Rochford leading the way ranked in the conference top 10 in on-base percentage (first), batting average (second), hits (fifth) RBI (fifth), runs (eighth) and slugging percentage (eighth). Wester is second in hits behind sister and junior co-captain Karley Wester, third in batting average, fourth in runs scored and batting average and sixth in stolen bases. Brooks is tied with senior Micaela Arizmendi for ninth in RBI and is 10th in slugging percentage.
Wester Sisters Recognized By ESPNW
After a strong performance on Spring Break, the Notre Dame 1-2 punch of junior co-captain Karley Wester and freshman Ali Wester was featured in last week’s ESPNW NCAA week five recap by Graham Hays. You can read the article here.
ND Off To First 3-0 Start In The ACC
A total of 13 Sunday hits, including 10 in the final two innings alone, provided the offensive firepower to lift Notre Dame to a 16-3 win over Virginia and notch a three-game conference sweep on March 12-13.
Notre Dame kept its momentum rolling by outscoring Virginia 32-8 during the weekend set at The Park. The Irish added a 29-11 edge in total hits, 25-7 lead in RBI and nine to two cushion for the weekend in stolen bases.
Wester Maintains Her Place Atop The ACC
Junior co-captain Karley 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 March 6 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.
Of the 44 NCAA Division players that opened the week with 200 or more career hits, Wester was the top active non-senior that had reached the milestone with 211. 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 46 hits through her first 25 starts this season.
Wester also joined two-time All-American Megan Ciolli (’05) and Jenna Simon (’15) as the third Notre Dame player to steal 70 career bases with a first inning steal on March 12 against Virginia. Wester is three stolen bases shy (74) of surpassing the 76 career swiped bags of Ciolli and Simon.
Already the Notre Dame career leader in both batting average (.447) and on-base percentage (.499), Wester has also risen to 10th on the runs scored list (148) thus far in her junior campaign.
Coach Gumpf Continues To Ascend The NCAA Wins List
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 (731 as of March 21) are believed to be the only other varsity athletics mentors to win 600 games during their Notre Dame tenures.
Gumpf enters Tuesday’s contest against Eastern Michigan with a career record of 613-238-1 (.720) 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 17-2 (.895) all-time against Eastern Michigan, and sports a 9-1 (.900) mark against Michigan State entering this week’s nonconference matchups. The Irish are a combined 19-1 (.950) in home games against the Eagles and Spartans in their respective series.
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.