May 6, 2016
by Tony Jones
#19/21 Notre Dame vs. NC State
May 7-8, 2016
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana
#19/21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(37-9, 11-6 ACC)
NC State Wolfpack
(22-31, 5-16 ACC)
Notre Dame-NC State ACC Weekend Schedule
Sunday, May 8
Senior Day weekend has arrived for the University of Notre Dame softball class of 2016, as the Irish conclude the regular season with a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series against NC State at Melissa Cook Stadium. A Saturday doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (ET) will air live on ESPN3, with Sunday’s noon series finale and Senior Day celebration to be shown on WatchND.
No. 19/21 Notre Dame (37-9, 11-6 ACC) seniors Micaela Arizmendi, Casey Africano, Carly Piccinich, Allie Rhodes and Megan Sorlie will conclude what has been one of the most successful eras of home success in program history this weekend against NC State (22-31. 5-16 ACC). The senior class has won 54 home games during their careers, compiling one of the best home winning percentages (over .840) by a graduating class since Notre Dame moved into Melissa Cook Stadium in 2008.
Notre Dame has notched eight wins over opponents ranked within the national top 10 since 2013, the second-most top 10 victories for the Irish ever in a four-year span (nine, 1999-2002). The senior class has claimed victories over ranked opponents at Melissa Cook Stadium in each of their four seasons, the first graduating class to boast that accomplishment.
Along with live video coverage on ESPN3 and WatchND, live stats will be available for all three of this weekend’s game 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 closed the 2016 midweek slate with its 21st straight nonconference home win in the regular season dating back to March of 2013 thanks to an 8-0 win over DePaul on April 27. Including the 2016 tournament schedule, Notre Dame has downed 22 consecutive nonconference opponents since Feb. 20.
– Notre Dame is 11-2 (.846) this season in games played at Melissa Cook Stadium, outscoring opponents by a cumulative 96-45 run count and ending five wins by fifth-inning run-rule.
– Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 17 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 five other two-game series at home in conference play dating back to the 2012 season.
– Notre Dame has played 123 games ranked among the national top 25 during the careers of the class of 2016, the most ranked games any Notre Dame graduating class has ever been a part of. The Irish are ranked No. 19/21 in the major national polls entering the NC State series.
– 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 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. Wester joined three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (’15) in not only receiving top 25 recognition for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, but both standouts are the only Notre Dame players ever to log at least 70 hits and score 50 or more runs in three straight seasons.
– 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.
Successful Strikeout Cancer Weekend
After the rains washed out the first day of play during the sixth annual Strikeout Cancer weekend, Notre Dame and Louisville took to the diamond on May 1 for an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish emerged victorious in game one with a thrilling 8-7 win before Louisville took the nightcap thanks to an 8-3 final score to split the conference series.
Notre Dame capped off an eventual Strikeout Cancer weekend that has already seen more than $38,000 raised for pediatric cancer patients, pushing the total funds raised past $185,000 in the six-year history of the event. The Irish also remained unbeaten in their last 17 conference series at Melissa Cook Stadium, which have spanned both the BIG EAST Conference and the ACC.
Farewell To The Class Of 2016
The Notre Dame graduating class of 2016 will be honored during Senior Day ceremonies prior to Sunday’s series finale against NC State at Melissa Cook Stadium. Micaela Arizmendi, Casey Africano, Carly Piccinich, Allie Rhodes and Megan Sorlie will play their final regular season home games against the Wolfpack.
The 2016 seniors have seen members earn nine combined conference, region and All-America accolades to go along with a Francis Patrick O’Connor Award recipient and the first two-time Notre Dame Athletics Community Champion selection at the year-end O.S.C.A.R.S. ceremony.
Irish Offense Still Setting The Standard
Notre Dame has regularly been recognized as one of the top offensive clubs in ACC softball since joining the conference prior to the 2014 season. Thanks to steady and consistent production at the plate, the Irish have extended that reputation into 2016.
After 46 games, Notre Dame is the ACC leader with a .352 team batting average (fourth in the NCAA) and 451 hits to go along with a league-high 42 sacrifice hits. The Irish are also second in runs scored (328), RBI (297), doubles (69) and triples (10).
Notre Dame had four different hitters, junior co-captain Karley Wester (.441, first), freshman Ali Wester (.420, second), freshman Melissa Rochford (.398, seventh) and junior Kimmy Sullivan (.391, eighth), ranked among the top 10 hitters in the ACC as of May 6, the most in the conference.
If It’s ACC, It’s Arizmendi
An always-prodigious power hitter for Notre Dame throughout its first three seasons as an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member, senior Micaela Arizmendi has found a multitude of offensive success during conference series. That hitting acumen was on full display at North Carolina April 24-25 in the latest showcase of offense for the two-time all-ACC first team and 2014 second team All-America standout.
Arizmendi homered in all three Notre Dame games against the Tar Heels, adding two doubles and eight RBI to a .556 batting average, 1.778 slugging percentage and .636 on-base percentage for the set. Arizmendi connected on the second Notre Dame grand slam of 2016 in the top of the fifth inning in primetime against North Carolina on April 25.
Arizmendi is Notre Dame’s hits (21), doubles (6), home runs (6) and RBI (24) leader in ACC play through 17 conference starts after adding a home run and four RBI against Louisville on May 1.
Reed Continues To Roll
Sophomore Morgan Reed has ignited the Notre Dame lineup from the middle of the Irish batting order over her past 16 games, posting a .500 batting average with 24 hits and 17 runs scored in the month of April and first day of May.
Reed is the Notre Dame team leader with eight multi-hit efforts in her last 16 starts, reaching base safely in every Notre Dame game since April 3.
Wester Thrives As 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, the top hitter in the ACC, is the first Notre Dame finalist in consecutive seasons in the history of the award (Top 26 Finalist in 2015).
Wester, Notre Dame’s all-time stolen bases leader with 90 career steals, vaulted ahead of two-time All-American Megan Ciolli (’05) with her 34th stolen base of 2016 at North Carolina on April 25 to establish an Irish single-season record (currently stands at 38).
Ali Wester Named NFCA Frosh Of The Year Finalist
Freshman outfielder/infielder Ali Wester was selected as one of the top 25 finalists for the 2016 Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year award on April 21.
Wester became the second Notre Dame player to be a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award since its inception in 2014, joining sister and current Notre Dame junior co-captain Karley Wester. The elder Wester was a top three finalist for the inaugural national freshman of the year award in 2014.
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 157-53 (.748) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 1-4 against NC State in a series that began on April 22, 2014 (a 3-2 Notre Dame win).
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.