March 4, 2016
by Tony Jones
#21/25 Notre Dame at the FGCU/Four Points By Sheraton Spring Break Classic
March 5-6, 2016
FGCU Softball Complex
Fort Myers, Florida
#21/25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Stony Brook Seawolves
Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Ball State Cardinals
Notre Dame FGCU Spring Break Classic Schedule
Saturday, March 5
Sunday, March 6
The Spring Break schedule for the University of Notre Dame softball team officially gets underway this weekend in Fort Myers, Florida. As part of their nine games in nine days during the spring semester siesta, the Irish open their road swing with four games at the Florida Gulf Coast University/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic at the FGCU Softball Complex.
No. 21/25 Notre Dame (12-3) kicks off the tournament with a pair of Saturday games against Stony Brook at 1:15 p.m. (ET) and host FGCU at 6 p.m. (ET). The Irish close the event with a rematch against Stony Brook at 10 a.m. (ET) on Sunday before rekindling a regional rivalry in the Sunshine State with Ball State at 12:15 p.m. at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The pair of games against Stony Brook and the contest against FGCU mark the first time that Notre Dame will face either team in program history. The Irish and Ball State will meet for the 16th time in a series that dates back to 1991, with Notre Dame sporting a 10-5 advantage and wins in nine of the last 10 matchups with the Cardinals since 1994. Ball State head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett (’05), a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American at Notre Dame, will face her alma mater for the first time as a Division I head coach.
There will be no streaming audio or video available during the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Spring Break Classic, but all four Notre Dame games will feature live stats via CBS Gametracker.
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 posted a perfect record during last weekend’s Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Florida for the third time in the last four seasons after winning all five of its games. The Irish are now a combined 23-4 (.852) in the tournament dating back to their first appearance at the Citrus Classic in 2011.
– Notre Dame downed its third ranked opponent in the first three weekends of the 2016 season with a 5-1 win over then No. 22 Central Florida on Feb. 26 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Irish previously owned wins over No. 23 Utah (2-1 on Feb. 12) and No. 8 UCLA (8-6 on Feb. 20) from earlier this season.
– UCF was the 76th top 25 opponent that Notre Dame has defeated in the past 25 seasons, and the 11th overall ranked foe to fall to the Irish since 2013. The Knights entered the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic ranked 22nd in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and receiving top 25 votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll.
– The 5-1 triumph for Notre Dame over UCF on Feb. 26 was the 600th career victory for Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf. 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 and Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw are the only other coaches to reach that win total exclusively during their Notre Dame careers.
– Junior co-captain/All-American Karley Wester was named to the Top 50 Watch List for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award on Feb. 3. Wester earned a spot on the watch list for the second straight preseason, and was a Top 26 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award in 2015.
– 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 Perfect Again At Disney
Facing an early 2-0 deficit, Notre Dame scored six runs over the final four innings to complete a 6-2 comeback victory over Penn State on Feb. 28 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Notre Dame capped a perfect 5-0 road trip to the Citrus Classic for the second time in three seasons, rolling through an undefeated tournament slate for the third time at the event since 2013. The Irish outscored opponents 33-6 during the weekend, which included a 56-22 edge in hits and an 8-4 margin in stolen bases.
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 (727 as of March 3) 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 603-238-1 (.717) in her 15th season at Notre Dame, with her winning percentage total ranking among the top 15 active coaches in NCAA Division I softball.
ND Avenges Last Result With UCF
The last time that Notre Dame and Central Florida collided on the softball diamond in the state of Florida it was UCF that held the hot hand. The Knights and All-America pitcher Shelby Turnier spun a five-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over then No. 22 Notre Dame on March 13, 2014 in Orlando.
With UCF ranked 22nd in the country heading into the meeting between the teams on Feb. 26, Notre Dame exacted its revenge. A total of eight base hits against Turnier, including five from junior co-captain Karley Wester (two) and freshman Ali Wester (three) alone, powered the Irish to a 5-1 win over the Knights at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Junior pitcher Rachel Nasland, who recorded one out during the top of the first inning in the 2014 game against UCF, tossed a masterful five shutout frames with five strikeouts in her rematch with the Knights at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Wester Nearing An ND Milestone
Entering Spring Break with 194 hits in 126 career games, junior co-captain Karley Wester is on the verge of adding her name to another chapter of Notre Dame program history.
With six more hits Wester would become the 22nd Irish player to reach 200 career base knocks, but it’s her torrid pace to 200 hits that would set a Notre Dame standard. Three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (’15) needed 165 games to record her 200th hit in an Irish uniform, a team benchmark that Wester is on pace to shatter.
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 29 hits through her first 15 starts this season.
Ali Was All Right At Citrus Classic
How good was freshman Ali Wester during her third career tournament at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic? A .611 batting average, 11 hits (which were exactly half of the 22 total from opponents) and six runs scored (equal to Notre Dame’s opponents) were the highlights of Wester’s five games at Disney last weekend.
Wester is second on the Notre Dame roster with 21 hits, 17 runs scored and five stolen bases thus far in 2016, adding the third-most RBI (13) on the squad after 15 games.
Pair Of Frosh Attack In RBI Spots
Freshmen Melissa Rochford and Caitlyn Brooks have enjoyed fast offensive starts to begin 2016 batting primarily in the top five slots of the Notre Dame lineup, and the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic was the latest chance that both impactful newcomers were able to strut their stuff in the batter’s box.
Both players finished the Citrus Classic with six RBI each, more than Notre Dame opponents (5) during the five-game tournament. Brooks added a team-high three doubles during the event, while Rochford chipped in a pair of two-baggers.
Entering play at Florida Gulf Coast this weekend, both Rochford and Brooks rank among the top five Notre Dame hitters in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, RBI, home runs and doubles following their first 15 college games.
Pitchers Find Their Groove In FLA
All five members of the 2016 Notre Dame pitching staff logged at least one full inning of work at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, with the results speaking for themselves during a 5-0 Irish weekend. Notre Dame pitchers scattered a mere 22 hits in 35 innings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (.173 opposing batting average against), sporting a combined ERA of 1.00 with 10 walks and 36 strikeouts.
Senior Allie Rhodes was 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA and one save at the Citrus Classic, while junior Rachel Nasland chipped in a 2-0 mark and 0.78 ERA. Sophomore Katie Beriont hurled her first career shutout against Bryant (Feb. 27), retiring the final 19 batters she faced.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 10-5 (.667) all-time against Ball State, while it will meet both Florida Gulf Coast and Stony Brook for the first time.
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.