March 29, 2016
by Tony Jones
#22/20 Notre Dame vs. IPFW
March 30, 2016
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana
#22/20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame Midweek Schedule
Wednesday, March 30
A season-long 10-game homestand for the University of Notre Dame softball team is set to begin on Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The No. 22/20 Irish play host to IPFW in a 5 p.m. (ET) nonconference matchup that will air live on WatchND.
Notre Dame (24-5) returns to Melissa Cook Stadium for the first time since downing Bowling Green (10-0 on March 17) and Eastern Michigan (10-2 on March 22) to open the 2016 home slate. The Irish are unbeaten in home midweek games since March of 2013, and will look for their 16th straight nonconference win on home soil during the regular season.
IPFW (10-22) is in search of its first win against Notre Dame, entering Wednesday’s contest 0-4 in the all-time series with the Irish. Notre Dame defeated the Mastodons 9-0 in five innings on March 25, 2015 in the most recent meeting between the teams at Melissa Cook Stadium.
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 15 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 17 straight midweek contests overall.
– Notre Dame is 9-1 in its last 10 games against fellow Indiana teams at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to the 2011 season. The Irish have outscored Hoosier state foes by a combined run count of 80-22 over the past five seasons entering Wednesday’s game against IPFW. The Irish downed the Mastodons 9-0 in five innings on March 25 of last year.
– In Monday’s release of updated ACC softball statistics, Notre Dame boasted a conference-best three players in the top 10 of cumulative batting average amongst all league hitters. Junior co-captain Karley Wester was second in the ACC with a .459 average, while freshman Melissa Rochford was third at a .446 clip. Freshman Ali Wester was fourth with a .434 average.
– Notre Dame’s 24-5 record is the second-best start through 29 games in the history of the program, trailing only the historic 2001 Irish squad (26-3) that won a team record 54 games that season.
– Notre Dame’s 19-game winning streak that spanned Feb. 20-March 25 was not only the longest in the ACC, but the Irish began the week of March 21 with the longest victory string in the NCAA at the time. Notre Dame embarked on a 24-game winning streak from March 15-April 26 of 2015 that began with a 12-0 shutout of No. 9/10 Florida State in Tallahassee.
– With its 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22, Notre Dame scored 10 or more runs in a game for the seventh time in 2016.
– 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.
Irish Remain Hot Inside The Confines Of The Cooker
Notre Dame’s 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22 was the 15th 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 35-8 (.814) overall mark at Melissa Cook Stadium in that span.
Since the stadium opened for play during the 2008 campaign Notre Dame is an impressive 125-21-1 (.854) at home, including regular and postseason games.
Wester Claims ND Steals Lead
With a first inning stolen base on March 26 at Syracuse, junior co-captain Karley Wester surpassed two-time All-American Megan Ciolli (’05) and two-time all-region selection Jenna Simon (’15) for the all-time Notre Dame stolen bases lead with her 77th career steal. Wester ran past her fellow Irish greats in only 140 career games, while Simon suited up 223 times and Ciolli appeared in 242 contests at Notre Dame.
Wester previously 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 47 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 216. 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 51 hits through her first 29 starts this season.
Already the Notre Dame career leader in both batting average (.445) and on-base percentage (.497), Wester has also risen to a tie for ninth place on the runs scored list (153) thus far in her junior campaign.
Nasland Continues 2016 Dominance
Junior pitcher Rachel Nasland has rebounded from injury to begin the 2016 season on the best roll of her Notre Dame career. The San Diego, California native is a perfect 8-0 in her first 16 appearances (nine starts) in the circle this season, adding one save to her 1.49 ERA that ranks second in the ACC behind Florida State’s Jessica Burroughs as of March 29.
Opposing batters are hitting a mere .190 in 56.1 innings against Nasland entering Wednesday’s game against IPFW, the third-best average against in the ACC. Nasland has struck out 56 batters while issuing 21 walks over her first 16 pitching appearances, which has featured nationally ranked foes Utah, Washington, UCLA and UCF.
Nasland was the most impressive pitcher from either team in Notre Dame’s conference series at Syracuse, posting a 1-0 record with a 1.35 ERA in two appearances in frigid conditions. Nasland tossed her first complete game of 2016 with a season-high nine strikeouts in the first contest of a Sunday doubleheader against the Orange at the Skytop Softball Stadium.
Mo Finds Her Groove At Home
Sophomore infielder Morgan Reed found her offensive rhythm during Notre Dame’s first two home victories against Bowling Green (March 17) and Eastern Michigan (March 22). Reed batted a team-high .800 with two doubles, one home run, six RBI and three runs scored in the initial Irish homestand of 2016.
In 24 career starts at Melissa Cook Stadium, Reed has batted at a cumulative .368 clip with eight doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI and 15 runs scored hitting in the heart of the Notre Dame order.
Rochford Does It All Last 10 Games
Freshman Melissa Rochford has arguably been Notre Dame’s most complete hitter throughout the team’s first 29 games of 2016, and in her past 10 starts the Irish third baseman has further staked her claim to that distinction.
Rochford is batting .424 with four doubles, one home run, 16 RBI and 10 runs scored since March 9. She has also drawn five walks to reach base at an impressive .500 clip in that span.
Arizmendi Arrives In ACC Play
Senior infielder Micaela Arizmendi has established a lasting legacy as one of the most complete power hitters in Notre Dame history. The two-time all-ACC first team selection always has taken her offensive production to the next level in conference play.
A career .355 hitter in 179 games (162 starts) at Notre Dame, Arizmendi has hit at a .427 clip with 26 doubles, 14 home runs, 62 RBI and a .831 slugging percentage in 66 career conference appearances alone.
Irish Reach Benchmark In ESPN Poll
Notre Dame opened the week of March 21 ranked 17th in the NCAA according to the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll. The Irish established a new program watermark at 17 in the ESPN/USA Softball rankings dating back to 2006.
Notre Dame has been ranked or receiving votes in both major polls (ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA) since the preseason top 25 was unveiled at the end of January.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against IPFW, outscoring the Mastodons 33-4 in those contests on the Notre Dame campus.
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.