Notre Dame faces host Louisville in the opening round of the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Softball Championship.

Fighting Irish Prepare For BIG EAST Tournament Opening Bout

May 7, 2008

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A 14-8 BIG EAST Conference regular-season record tagged Notre Dame as the league’s fourth-seeded team as the Irish head to Louisville to take on the fifth-seeded Cardinals Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the first round of the 2008 BIG EAST Softball Championship.

Notre Dame enters the tournament as the No. 4 seeded team for the second time in as many seasons after the Irish carried the top seed in each of their first eight seasons as league members. The team was seeded third in 2006.

The Irish are 1-1 all-time against Louisville in the conference tournament and each of the two duels have been in the championship game. Notre Dame took the crown in 2006, 1-0, as Louisville won the 2007 title by a 3-2 count. Notre Dame is 8-4 in BIG EAST Conference tournament openers and has not dropped a game to start the championship since 2002 when the team fell in a 2-1 decision to Seton Hall.

An April 19 sweep over Louisville earlier this season snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals and marked the first time Notre Dame has taken a two-game series from UofL. Previously, Notre Dame last beat Louisville, 1-0, during a BIG EAST Conference Tournament game in 2006 when the Cardinals were ranked 18th in the nation. The all-time series record between the two teams favors UofL, 6-4.

Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium will host the 2008 BIG EAST Softball Championship. The league’s top eight teams participate in the three-day, single-elimination event set to begin on May 8. The winner of the BIG EAST Championship will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

The BIG EAST Championship returns to an off-campus site this year for the fifth time since the league began hosting a championship in 1990.

Louisville claimed the 2007 tournaments with wins over Syracuse, South Florida and Notre Dame. The Cardinals entered the tournament as the third seed overall, but after three consecutive wins earned the league crown for the first time in school history.

The BIG EAST Conference has sponsored the BIG EAST Softball Championship since 1990. Notre Dame has won the league championship title five times since joining the conference in 1996.

Two of Notre Dame’s most notable tournaments occurred in Salem, Va. In 2002, the Irish rallied from a first-day loss to win four straight games to claim the tournament title in Deanna Gumpf’s first season as head coach. The next season the Irish utilized a walk-off home run by Andrea Loman in the bottom of the ninth inning against Villanova to capture their second straight league title. Bolstered by that home run, Loman became the third BIG EAST player to earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player trophy two times (UConn’s Bridgett McCaffery and Janna Venice also earned two awards) and joined McCaffery as just the second BIG EAST player to claim the award in back-to-back tournaments. Behind the strong pitching of senior hurler Heather Booth in 2006, the Irish won their three tournament games over Providence, Pittsburgh and No. 18 Louisville by the combined score of 10-1 to earn the title. Booth started and threw complete games in each of three contests of the tournament, including a one-hit shutout of No. 18 Louisville in the championship game. For her efforts, Booth was named the 2006 Most Outstanding Player. Notre Dame defeated Connecticut and No. 12 DePaul in the 2007 league tournament held in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(37-19-1 overall, 14-8 BIG EAST)

Louisville Cardinals
(29-20 overall, 12-8 BIG EAST)
Ulmer Stadium • Thursday, May 8 • 6:30 p.m. (ET)
University of Louisville • Louisville, Ky.
Live Stats:

The South Bend 800 … Notre Dame notched the 800th win in program history in a game-one win at Syracuse (May 4) with style … junior pitcher Brittney Bargar blanked the Orange by tossing the fourth no-hitter of career and the 35th no-no recorded in 20 seasons of Irish softball.

Launches By Lux … Christine Lux slammed a pair of solo homers in game two at Syracuse (May 4) … her total of 14 in 2008 set a new single-season school record … Notre Dame leads the BIG EAST with 39 overall homers, 22 of which have been hit in conference games … Lux has eight round-trippers against league foes, one short of the conference record.

Walk It Out … Junior Linda Kohan has found her knack for getting on base with her patience at the plate … entering the team’s conference home opener, she had drawn more walks (20) than hits (19) recorded for an on-base percentage of .412, which led the team … her 34 walks this season is second on the school’s all-time list … she needs two more to tie the record (36) set by Meagan Ruthrauff.

Double Slammy … It only took 1,263 at-bats, but Notre Dame finally recorded a grand slam in the 2008 season when Ashley Ellis sent one over the fence in game one against Providence (April 26) … Notre Dame had hit 31 homers before Ellis’ bomb, with only five of those coming with more than one runner on base … Ellis had five RBI in that contest to set a new career-high … Katie Laing added the second grand slam of the season seven games later with a seventh-inning poke down the rightfield line at Syracuse (May 4) … Laing tied a career high with four RBI in that game against the Orange, a feat she has accomplished three times this season.

Senior Salute … The Irish bid farewell to a pair of four-year players during Senior Day ceremonies held between games with Connecticut (April 27) … Sarah Smith and Katie Laing have helped Notre Dame post a 53-14-1 (.788) home record over the past four seasons … the 11-3-1 home record in 2008, aided by a sweep over UConn, secured the 19th overall- and 16th consecutive – season the Irish have won at least 10 home games in a season … the 1992 team was 9-1-1.

Tale of Three Seasons … The 2008 season started with Notre Dame winning seven of its first 15 games … a 17-2 run soon followed, and then Notre Dame went 13-9-1 over the last 23 contests … the team has had winning streaks of seven and eight games, and has dropped at least two consecutive games on four occasions.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Northway … Junior Beth Northway has had hits in eight of 10 games from April 20-29 … three of those games have been multi-hit affairs, capped off by a 3-for-3 day at Valparaiso (April 29) … she batted .367 over that stretch to raise her overall average from .218 to .256.

The Bri Spree … Freshman Brianna Jorgensborg had only one multi-hit through 49 games heading into an April 26 doubleheader with Providence … she lit the Friars for two hits in three at-bats, then posted three hits including a home run one day later against UConn (April 27) … Jorgensborg was also 2-for-3 with two RBI at Valparaiso (April 29).

Laing Hoists Hardware … The Notre Dame Athletics Department held the seventh annual O.S.C.A.R.S (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements and Recognition Showcase) on Wednesday (April 30) at the Joyce Center honoring more than Irish 750 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2007-08 school year … senior Katie Laing was one of six student-athletes that earned the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor presented to an Irish student-athlete … the honor has been given each year since 1927 to senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as both students and leaders … chosen by the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics, the awards are named in honor of the 1904 Notre Dame graduate who was a member of the baseball team as an undergraduate … Kanaley went on to a successful banking career in Chicago and served the University as a lay trustee until his death in 1960.

Celebrating Sarah Smith Senior Sarah Smith took home player-of-the-week honors handed out by the BIG EAST Conference on April 29 … Smith became the second Irish player to win the award as fellow senior Katie Laing has racked up a pair of weekly accolades … in Notre Dame’s 5-2-1 outing from April 22-27, Smith recorded four multi-hit games including two three-hit performances … Smith went 3-for-4 with two runs and one double for a .750 average in Notre Dame’s 4-3, eight-inning win over Loyola-Chicago on April 24 … she also went 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI in a victory over Connecticut … for the week, Smith went 14-for-26 (.538) in eight games with seven runs, four stolen bases, two RBI and two doubles along with a sacrifice … Smith’s overall batting average of .385 ranks third in the league, while her .466 clip versus conference foes is the highest of any league player.

When She’s On, She’s In … Freshman Brianna Jorgensborg scored a career-high three runs in game two at Louisville (April 19) but did not register a single hit … her only hits came from the arms of the Cardinal pitching staff, who beaned her twice … she also drew a walk to put her on base in her first at-bat.

Mother Nature 1, Notre Dame 0 … Game two of an April 24 doubleheader with Loyola-Chicago ended in a 2-2 tie when lightning forced the game to be called … the Irish had Katie Fleury on fist base in the bottom of the seventh with no outs when a bolt flashed over Melissa Cook Stadium … the tie was just the third in the 1,173 games played in Irish history and the first that did not extend beyond the regulation 7.0 innings … the last Irish tie came in 1992 when a 6-6 stalemate with Indiana State ended in the 11th inning of an April 28 ballgame.

Gettin’ Lucky In Kentucky … The April 19 sweep over Louisville snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals and marked the first time Notre Dame has taken a two-game series from UofL … Notre Dame last beat Louisville, 1-0, during a BIG EAST Conference Tournament game in 2006 when the Cardinals were ranked 18th in the nation … the all-time series record still favors UofL, 6-4.

Erin-It-Out … Erin Marrone made her debut at catcher against Wisconsin (April 16) and has started each of Notre Dame’s games since then from behind the plate … the freshman has also started games for Notre Dame in rightfield and the designated player spot throughout the season … she finished Notre Dame’s game against UC Davis (March 1) at first base when the defensive lineup was shifted due to an injury to Heather Johnson early in the game.

Melissa Cook Stadium Unveiled … The rain in the South Bend area may have washed out an April 12 BIG EAST Conference doubleheader between Notre Dame and Rutgers, yet the day may still go down as one of the most significant in Irish history … Notre Dame unveiled its new playing facility – Melissa Cook Stadium – during a morning ceremony held just outside the complex … University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., blessed the site which will house the Irish softball program for years to come, and remarks were given from athletics director Dr. Kevin White, head softball coach Deanna Gumpf, senior tri-captain Katie Laing, and benefactors Lisa Hoffman and Paul and Linda Demo … the Demos, parents of Melissa Cook, also helped bless a bronze relief of the former Irish player that sits just inside the main entrance of the stadium … areas of the stadium made possible by gifts from the Delahanty and Hofmann families were honored as well.

Four Means More … A school-record three home runs in the fourth inning helped Notre Dame overcome a 5-0 deficit to post an 11-5 non-conference win over Wisconsin (April 16) … the three homers were the most ever for Notre Dame in a single inning as the Irish totaled four homers in the contest, the first time since the team has done so since an April 9 meeting at Pittsburgh in 2006 … Meagan Ruthrauff had three blasts in that game with Linda Kohan – who tallied a career-high two round-trippers against the Badgers – adding the fourth … Kohan was joined in the home run department by Katie Fleury and Christine Lux … Fleury had hit her first career homer – and the first Irish home run in Melissa Cook Stadium – two days earlier against Rutgers (April 14) … the first bomb of the day for Kohan christened the scoreboard in left-center by leaving a noticeable point of impact.

Four Means Less … A scoreless three innings for both teams in Notre Dame’s contest with Wisconsin (April 16) broke loose in the fourth inning when the Badgers put up a handful of runs despite scratching out only one hit but got help with one Irish error … entering an April 15 game at Northwestern, Notre Dame had only surrendered seven runs in the fourth inning through 38 games played on the year … the Irish gave up five to Northwestern in the fourth and five more to Wisconsin in the same stanza … despite the nine runs scattered over that two-game stretch, Notre Dame has still out-scored opponents by a 44-22 margin in the fourth … furthermore, they have out-scored foes in the third inning, 48-14.

Just a Couple of Benjamins … A win over Villanova (April 13) gave the Notre Dame program its 200th BIG EAST Conference regular-season win … the Irish are 201-40 (.834) in regular season games since joining the league … the Irish are 265-48 (.847) in overall regular-season conference games, posting a 64-14 (.820) mark as members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1989-95.

Spin Cycle … Sophomore first baseman Christine Lux was batting .182 heading into an April 9 doubleheader against Eastern Michigan … two games and a few hits later, that average was bumped up to .223, aided especially by a record-setting performance at the plate … Lux hit for the cycle over the two-game swing, knocking a homer, double, and single in game one … she settled for a triple and one single in the second contest … Lux tied a school record with seven RBI to open the day, matching Meagan Ruthrauff’s total from a 2006 conference game at Pittsburgh, which was played exactly two years prior … though Lux accomplished the feat in an abbreviated five-inning game, seeing the plate only three times … Ruthrauff had four hits in her five at-bats, including three home runs … senior Katie Laing totaled seven RBI during Sunday’s series at Seton Hall (April 6), with four in game one and three in the capper.

Tit for Tat … Heading into the home conference opener (April 9), Ashley Ellis had 18 hits and had scored 18 times … Katie Laing took a different approach, racking up 39 RBI on her 39 hits.

Tennessee Titan … Ashley Ellis posted a .684 batting average during Notre Dame’s six wins from April 5-9 … during that stretch the Tennessee native reached base safely in 13 consecutive at-bats, counting six-straight hits from the plate.

Four-Three … Senior Katie Laing swings a fine bat but you’ve got to give some love to her glove … she ranks second all-time on the career assists list with 464 – the most ever recorded by an Irish second baseman … Ruth Kmak (1989-92) had 467 from her shortstop position.

If the Season Ended Today … As of April 10, nineteen of Katie Laing’s 39 hits had gone for extra-bases … her 10 doubles, three triples, and six homers have steered her towards a .676 slugging percentage … at the time it ranked as the highest single-season average in school history, standing on top of Melanie Alkire’s .665 mark set in 2000.

Sweet Sweep … Two members of the team were recognized by the BIG EAST Conference on April 7 after leading the Irish to a 5-0 record … junior pitcher Brittney Bargar was named the league’s pitcher of the week while senior second baseman Katie Laing copped the conference’s player of the week award … it was the first time this season that two teammates swept the awards … Laing earned the honor for the second time this season with an explosive offensive output that helped Notre Dame improve to 22-10 overall and 5-1 in BIG EAST play … the Tempe, Ariz., native went 10-for-19 with 13 RBI, five runs, four home runs and one double for a .526 batting average and a 1.211 slugging percentage … Laing also snagged two stolen bases … she had four multi-hit and multi-RBI games on the week, including two homers and two RBI in a 12-1 win at Seton Hall (April 6) … she was a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Toledo on April 2, slamming one home run and one double for two RBI and a run scored … Bargar earned her third conference honor of the season on the strength of her trusty right arm that helped her collect four BIG EAST victories along with a midweek win over Toledo … her 5-0 record for the week was parlayed with a 0.00 ERA … the righty fanned 27 batters in 27.1 innings of work … she allowed only 12 hits – all singles – four walks, and one unearned run … Bargar tossed 13.1 innings over two games at St. John’s (April 5), totaling 16 strikeouts while limiting the Red Storm to seven hits … she was able to run her streak of innings pitched without surrendering an earned run to 54.1, dating back to a March 14 date at Charleston Southern.

Long, Strong Ivy … The home of Notre Dame softball since the program’s inception in 1989, Ivy Field saw its final pair of games when the Irish swept Eastern Michigan (April 9) in a non-conference doubleheader … Notre Dame finished with an all-time record of 288-48-2 (.854) within the friendly confines, including each of the four home games played on its turf in 2008.

The Queens of Queens (N.Y.) … Notre Dame stayed flawless against St. John’s with a doubleheader sweep on April 5 … the team is now 26-0 all-time against the Red Storm, but the last two didn’t come easy … the Irish needed all of 12 innings in their 8-4 win to finish the twinbill, which was the largest margin of victory in program history in a game extending past the regulation 7.0 innings … the last time Notre Dame won in a 12-inning contest was in 1994, when they defeated Indiana on May 20 by a count of 3-1.

A Freshman’s First … Freshman Jody Valdivia was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Pitcher of the Week on Monday (March 31) … the first-year tosser picked up her fifth win of the season by handing No. 17 DePaul a 2-0 defeat in her first career BIG EAST action on Sunday (March 30) to secure the honor … the occasion marks the third time in seven weeks that an Irish pitcher has won the award, as Brittney Bargar claimed the accolade twice earlier in the season … Valdivia (5-4) needed only 10.2 innings of work to pick up two shutout wins this past week … she dealt DePaul its first regular-season league loss since the 2006 campaign by keeping the Blue Demons at bay with a five-hit effort … she also limited IUPUI to only three hits without a walk while fanning seven in Notre Dame’s home opener on March 26 … the Anaheim Hills, Calif., native struck out nine batters without allowing a single run over the course of her two outings.

More Than Just Downing DePaul … Jody Valdivia and Brittney Bargar teamed to help the Irish defeat No. 17 DePaul to wrap up a March 30 conference doubleheader … Valdivia got the win and went 5.2 innings and struck out three with Bargar stepping in to finish the final 1.1 frames to earn her first save of the 2008 campaign … the duo’s efforts put an end to DePaul’s 25-game regular season conference winning streak that dated back to April of 2006 … it was also Notre Dame’s first win at DePaul since the 2005 season … the win also signified the first time that Notre Dame beat an opponent that carried a No. 17 ranking, and was the 16th time the Irish shut out a ranked foe … Notre Dame has 49 all-time wins against ranked opponents.

BIG EAST Notices Blanking of the Broncos … Senior Katie Laing and junior Brittney Bargar found spots on the BIG EAST Conference’s weekly honor roll for their efforts against Western Michigan (March 20) … Bargar tossed a complete-game shutout to give Notre Dame a 2-0 non-conference win against WMU on a cold Michigan afternoon … Bargar gave up only two hits in 7.0 frames of work and struck out nine Broncos … she also helped herself by cleanly fielding six grounders for outs … her only walk of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning … senior Katie Laing finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish against the Broncos and was the lone player on either team to record more than one hit in the game … she singled in her first at-bat then belted a solo homer to deep centerfield during her second plate appearance … it was her second homer of the season, and her 12th knock of the campaign that has been good for extra-bases.

She Can Toss It … Junior Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Pitcher of the Week on March 17, claiming the honor for the second time in as many weeks … Bargar turned in a 0.41 ERA over three appearances at Charleston Southern’s Lowcountry Collegiate Softball Invitational to earn a spot on the event’s all-tournament team … she pitched her way to three wins from the circle – including two shutouts – while giving up only 13 hits in 17.1 frames … Bargar struck out 12 batters over that interval and allowed one earned run … she allowed only three earned runs for a 0.39 ERA since March 1, covering 11 contests and 53.2 innings of work in that timeframe.

The Lowcountry Lowdown … Four wins at the Lowcountry Collegiate Softball Invitational hosted by Charleston Southern highlighted Notre Dame’s trip to South Carolina … Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Laing both totaled seven hits at the tournament to lead the team … pitcher Brittney Bargar registered a pair of shutout wins from the circle … a ten-run third inning gave the Irish a 10-2 win in five innings over host Charleston Southern on Saturday (March 16) … Pitzenberger scored twice in the inning … the Irish registered five consecutive hits at one point during the frame … during a day-one sweep over Towson and Charleston Southern (March 15), Notre Dame’s 23 scores on 25 hits marked the program’s highest run total over a two-game stretch since taking a pair of contests from Valparaiso on April 23, 2003, by scores of 11-0 and 15-1 … Notre Dame totaled a season-high 14 hits in 25 official at-bats in the second game against CSU … Notre Dame totaled 51 hits (10.2/game) and scored 40 runs (8/game) at the event … in fact, the squad registered at least 10 hits in three consecutive games over that stretch … Laing had two triples, two doubles and seven RBI at the tournament – including a career-high four RBI against Charleston Southern on opening day … Christine Lux slammed two homers, and Katie Fleury drove in six scores while adding on five runs herself, finishing with a .657 on-base clip … Sarah Smith and Ashley Ellis shared for team-bests with a .545 batting average at the five-game invite … the two shared nearly identical stat lines with a .545 average in 11 at-bats, six hits, one walk, and a .583 on-base percentage … freshman Shannon Kelly notched the first hit of her career against Towson (March 14).

California Love … The Irish enjoyed a 6-3 mark during its Spring Break trip to the West Coast … both Katie Fleury and Sadie Pitzenberger registered nine hits over the break to lead the team … Ashley Ellis totaled two homers to go along with four singles for a .571 slugging percentage … she also led the team with eight RBI in eight games … collectively, Notre Dame hit .261 while holding opponents to a .218 mark … the pitching corps posted a 1.07 ERA over 59.0 innings.

Twice the Fun … Two doubles by Katie Laing highlighted her 3-for-4 day at the plate and gave the senior the program’s all-time career record by bringing her two-bagger total to 50 during Notre Dame’s win at UC Riverside (March 4) … her record-setting double in the fifth inning traveled to left-center to score Beth Northway … Laing also led the team with three RBI against the Aggies.

Longballs at Long Beach … There were 17 games played during the Long Beach Invitational … but only one home run left the park during the event … that smash came off the bat of Ashley Ellis, who sent her third homer of the season out of the complex against No. 2 UCLA … most of the tournament’s contests were played at Lisa Fernandez Field at Mayfair Park in Lakewood (Calif.) … that field featured a fence that sat all of 275 feet from home plate.

Pound Town … Notre Dame racked UC Davis pitcher Jessica Hancock for 13 hits in its 6-5 win on March 1 … at the time, the season-high hit total signified the most knocks Notre Dame had recorded in a game since it registered 16 against Syracuse on April 1, 2007 … each Irish batter recorded at least one hit in the game … Sadie Pitzenberger, Sarah Smith, Beth Northway, and Ashley Ellis each punched in multi-hit efforts at the plate … Ellis – who screeched a homer over the leftfield fence that exited the park in a flash – also drove in a career-high four runs.

With Honors … Junior Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Pitcher of the Week on March 10 … the Corona, Calif., native made five appearances for the Irish from March 1-9, logging 25.1 innings of work while posting a 0.55 ERA over that stretch … during that time she fanned 21 batters, issued three walks, and gave up only two earned runs … Bargar tossed a one-hitter against Long Beach State (March 7) but did not get the run support needed to earn the win in Notre Dame’s 1-0 loss … one day later she out-dueled No. 24 Virginia Tech and its ace pitcher, Angela Tincher, by giving up only one run on six hits with four strikeouts in the winning effort … she also checked in for the Irish against No. 2 UCLA to turn in a shutout relief performance.

Pit of the Pitzenbergers … Sadie Pitzenberger went head-to-head with her sister, Amanda, when Notre Dame faced CS Northridge (March 9) … Amanda, who started at third for the Matadors, ended the game without a hit … Sadie, however, connected on a fifth-inning double that plated a pair of runs to propel Notre Dame to its 3-1 non-conference win … Sadie’s game-winning hit was her only knock of the game.

Fallen Ranks … Notre Dame earned its first win over a ranked opponent this season when it topped No. 24 Virginia Tech, 2-1 … previous attempts to upend foes in the top-25 faltered during battles with No. 3 Texas A&M (L, 1-4), No. 7 Florida (L, 2-3 / 5-2), and No. 2 UCLA (L, 2-3).

Laing Shines In Homecoming … Senior second baseman Katie Laing earned the first BIG EAST Conference Softball Player of the Week honor for the 2008 season (Feb. 18) … Laing, a native of Tempe, Ariz., recorded a team-best batting average (.429), slugging percentage (.714), on-base percentage (.500) and RBI total (4) over the four-game stretch … she totaled 10 bases on the weekend and had multi-hit performances in the 6-5 loss to Western Kentucky and the 4-3 win over California in front of her hometown crowd … against the Golden Bears, Laing recorded a two-run homer to put Notre Dame on the board early in the contest, and then knocked a walk-off double to drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Bend It Like Bargar … Junior Brittney Bargar made three appearances and logged 18.1 innings of work and posted a 1.91 ERA for Notre Dame during the Kajikawa Classic to earn a seat on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll (Feb. 18) … she struck out 23 batters over that stretch and earned two wins while giving up only nine hits through three games … Bargar helped the Irish to a comeback win over California after punching in 4.1 innings of relief time and gave up only two hits without a run … she also held No. 3 Texas A&M to only four hits in a complete-game effort … she opened the season against Utah with a 6-2 win, limiting the Utes to only three hits.

First Time for Everything … For the first time in Notre Dame history, the Irish scored four runs in a season’s opening inning when they accomplished the feat in the top of the first against Utah (Feb. 15) … the previous record of three was set against Indiana in the 1990 season opener … the four-run output in a single inning was the team’s first since they racked up five scores in the top of the third against No. 12 DePaul (May 11) at last season’s BIG EAST Tournament … five freshmen earned starting nods at some point during the Kajikawa Classic … Ashley Ellis’ first career homerun – a deep solo shot to center – came during the seventh inning to wrap up Notre Dame’s scoring against the Utes … in her first career at-bat, freshman Brianna Jorgensborg laced a three-RBI double down the rightfield line.

Mutli-Tasking … Both Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Laing registered a pair of multi-hit efforts during the Kajikawa Classic … Laing had two hits against both California and Western Kentucky … in her first collegiate contest, Pitzenberger lit Utah for three hits and snagged a pair of doubles against the Hilltoppers … four players – Pitzenberger, Laing, Heather Johnson, and Brianna Jorgensborg – had multi-RBI performances over the four-game stretch as well.

Let the Sun Shine … Although the temperature was not quite ideal for a season-opening tournament in Arizona, the Irish squad was nonetheless ready to rip out and relish the opportunity to play outdoors after practicing in the indoor Loftus Center on campus for the past several weeks … Notre Dame wasted no time lighting its offensive fire, exploding for four runs on three hits in the top half of the first inning to open the season against Utah … each of the nine batters in the lineup saw action at the dish in that frame … the Irish defense turned around and shutout the Utes for four innings, also leaving them without a hit during that stretch.

Johnson Comes Up Big … With their backs against the wall and trailing Western Kentucky, 5-3, the Irish needed a lift in the top of the seventh to stay alive … Sadie Pitzenberger led the frame with a double but was stranded on base after the next two batters were retired … facing a 2-2 count, Heather Johnson crushed a two-run homer to left-center to tie the game and keep the Irish pulse beating … it was the third homerun of the sophomore’s career.

Take a Load Off … It’s great to open a fresh season with a win, and head coach Deanna Gumpf has now done that on three occasions in seven tries with the Irish following a 6-2 triumph over Utah … Gumpf’s first career game as Notre Dame’s head coach was against the top-ranked team in the nation … Notre Dame fell in that duel to No. 1 Arizona, 3-0, in Tucson during the Arizona Pepsi Classic in 2002.