Stephanie Brown showed the ability to do it all offensively in 2006, leading the team with 79 hits while smacking a career-best eight home runs, driving in 22 runs and stealing 20 bases.

Final Home Weekend Of 2005 Will Decide BIG EAST Championship Seed

April 28, 2005

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Notre Dame (36-10, 11-1) vs. Boston College (17-21, 5-7)
BIG EAST Conference Doubleheader
Friday, April 29, 2005 •3 p.m. • Ivy Field

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse (27-16, 11-3 as of April 27)
BIG EAST Conference Doubleheader
Sunday, May 1, 2005 • 11 a.m. •Ivy Field

Live coverage: Subscribers to the College Sports Pass will have access to live audio play-by-play coverage of all four games this weekend from Ivy Field. Assistant Sports Information Director Chris Masters will handle the play-by-play duties. In addition, Gametracker will be available for all six games as well. Visit the audio/video link at the top of for more information on the College Sports Pass.

Irish focused on final conference weekend of the year, final home games of 2005: The University of Notre Dame softball team (36-10) faces a big test at home this weekend as it plays host to Boston College (17-21, 5-7) and Syracuse (27-16, 11-3) in BIG EAST Conference play.

Both Notre Dame and Syracuse will enter the weekend with the ability to catch Seton Hall for first place in the conference standings. Syracuse will face Pittsburgh before its trip to campus, while Notre Dame will face Boston College on Friday. Two sweeps by both teams will set up a classic showdown on Sunday at Ivy Field.

Notre Dame is riding high after its upset victory over #15 Northwestern on Tuesday, April 26. The Irish rallied with four unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh to stun the Wildcats – who sit in first place in the Big Ten Conference with a 14-0 record.

Notre Dame quick hits: What you need to know about the Irish for this weekend’s action:

• Notre Dame will need to sweep through the weekend to nab first place in the conference standings, should Seton Hall sweep Providence on Saturday. The Irish would match the Pirates in the conference standings with 30 points and hold the tiebreaker over the Pirates.

• The Irish still have the option to make up two games at Rutgers next weekend (May 7) if the team stumbles this weekend.

• Syracuse will be no easy task for the Irish this weekend, as the Orange own wins over #3 UCLA, #15 Florida State (twice) and have lost one-run games to #7 La.-Lafayette and #18 Nebraska.

Series history vs. Boston College and team analysis: Notre Dame and Boston College will meet for the 22nd and 23rd time on Friday … the meetings will be the last between the two teams as conference members, as the Eagles will compete in the ACC next season … Notre Dame leads the all-time series 16-5, including a 7-2 record at Ivy Field … BC is 17-21 in 2005 and 5-7 in BIG EAST play … they are led on offense by Kimmy Hopkin (.341, 4 HR, 14 RBI), Britney Thompson (.333, 7 HR, 22 RBI) and Ashley Obrest (.297, 7 HR, 27 RBI) … Thompson is also the team’s leading pitcher, boasting a 3.34 ERA and 66 Ks in 107 innings … Boston College is still in the running for fourth place in the BIG EAST standings and a spot in the BIG EAST Championship.

Series history vs. Syracuse and team analysis: Notre Dame and Syracuse will meet for the 10th and 11th time on Sunday … the Irish lead the all-time series 8-1, including wins in the last five meetings … the Orange are 27-16 in 2005 and 11-3 in the BIG EAST, tied with the Irish for second place … Tiffany Robinson has paced the offense for Syracuse, hitting .371 … the Orange also feature five hitters with 20 or more RBI (led by Cassie Morales with 30) … Courtney Mosch leads the pitching staff with a 1.65 ERA, 10-9 record and 115 Ks in 123.1 innings pitched … Erin Downey will also see time in the circle, she is 16-7 with a 2.01 ERA and 171 Ks in 157.0 IP … Syracuse is 1-3 at Ivy Field.

Stenglein posting eye-popping strikeout numbers: Reigning two-time BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Steffany Stenglein has been close to unhittable in her last 14 starts, compiling 154 strikeouts in those games. In her last five starts, she has thrown complete games with 15, 14, 14, 12 and 19 strikeouts, respectively. The 2004 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, Stenglein has blown past both the 500, 600 and 700 strikeout barrier this season and currently has 236 Ks in `05.

Some other Stenglein strikeout notes:

• She has failed to strikeout at least six batters in only two of 22 game starts in which she has thrown at least four innings.

• She has hit double-digit strikeouts 12 times this season, including a personal-best and school record 19 in game one vs. Seton Hall.

• She needs 12 more strikeouts this season to catch Jennifer Sharron for second on the all-time strikeout list at Notre Dame – second behind Terri Kobata’s untouchable school mark of 907. Stenglein currently has 716 career strikeouts.

Booth reaches 500 strikeouts: Junior Heather Booth became the fourth Irish pitcher to post 500 strikeouts in a career (Kobata, Jen. Sharron, Stenglein) last weekend and now boasts 524 – fourth on the all-time list.

Laing approaching single-season doubles record: Freshman Katie Laing, who has proven to be one of the top clutch hitters on the team this season, is closing in on the school record for doubles in a season. Laing currently has 15 doubles in 2005, just two off the record of 17 held by Lizzy Lemire (1999) and Jenn Giampaolo (1996).

Stenglein leaving her mark on the statistical charts: In addition to her strikeout totals this season, senior righthander Steffany Stenglein has already established the school marks for pitching appearances (137) and starts (121) and is second in innings pitched with 692.2, fifth in shutouts (18) and third in wins (75).

Stenglein sets school record for strikeouts in a single game: Senior Steffany Stenglein nabbed another record on Monday, April 25, against Seton Hall. The righthander pitched all nine innings, giving up three hits in a tough-luck loss – but set the school record for strikeouts in a single game. Stenglein set down 19 Pirate batters in the game, besting Terri Kobata’s record of 17 vs. Butler in 1995 and Indiana State in 1994. Kobata will still own the seven-inning record. Stenglein’s seven-inning best this season is 15 at Providence.

Stenglein looks to reach 250 strikeouts: Senior righthander Steffany Stenglein is looking to become just the second Irish pitcher to post 250 strikeouts in a single season. She enters this weekend with 236 Ks in 2005, needing 14 more to reach the 250-strikeout barrier. Only Terri Kobata (315 in `94, 250 in `95) has reached the 250-strikeout plateau in a season.

Irish have dominated the month of April under Gumpf: Since Deanna Gumpf took over the Irish softball program in 2002 – the team has been close to unbeatable in the month of April. Entering Thursdays’s doubleheader, the Irish are 83-11 (.882) in April over the last four years.

Here is a breakdown of Notre Dame’s record during April since 2002.

2002: 24-1
2003: 21-2
2004: 19-5
2005: 19-2

Notre Dame in BIG EAST regular-season play: Notre Dame boasts an 11-1 record in BIG EAST Conference play this season, continuing its tradition of excellence during the league’s regular-season play. The Irish have lost four games in conference play only once since it joined the league in 1996 and boasts an overall record of 159-18 (.898) entering this weekend’s competition. Notre Dame’s BIG EAST regular-season records: 1996 – 19-1, 1997 – 16-4, 1998 – 13-3, 1999 – 16-0, 2000 – 14-2, 2001 – 20-0, 2002 – 18-2, 2003 – 14-3, 2004 – 18-2, 2005 – 11-1.

The Irish have won nine consecutive BIG EAST regular-season crowns since 1996.

Irish recent win streak matches 2002 run for longest of Gumpf era: Notre Dame’s recent 20-game win streak matched the 2002 team’s run for the longest of the Deanna Gumpf era at Notre Dame … it also ranks as tied for the second-best all-time behind the 33-game run in 2001 … here is a look at Notre Dame’s winning streak history (minimum streak of 19):

• 33 – 3-28-01 to 5-10-01, began with 6-0 victory over Valparaiso, ended with 2-1 loss to Seton Hall at the BIG EAST Championship … loss before streak to #9 CS Fullerton at the Kia Klassic, 5-4.

• 20 – 4-1-03 to 4-27-03, began with 7-3 win at Purdue, ended with 2-1 loss at Connecticut … loss before streak to #22 Northwestern, 3-2.

• 20 – 3-19-05 to 4-19-05, began with 8-0 win vs. Oakland in the Buckeye Invitational, ended with a 7-4 loss at DePaul … loss before the streak 7-4 to Marshall in the Buckeye Invitational.

• 19 – 3-16-96 to 4-11-96, began with 4-2 win over Florida Atlantic at Florida State Tournament, ended with 4-1 loss to Villanova … loss before streak to Bradley, 3-1 at Florida State Tournament.

Snapshot of the Irish: Notre Dame has been a streaky team this season – displayed perfectly by the team’s recent 20-game win streak. The Irish bats have endeavored to become a consistent threat, but the pitching staff deserves a majority of the credit for the team’s recent success. Notre Dame is still capable of exploding for huge offensive numbers against any level of competition, however.

Senior team captain Megan Ciolli (.376, 53 H, 10 2B, 22 RBI, 24 SB) has led from the front since the team took the field and set the school record for career stolen bases and single-season steals in `05. Junior Meagan Ruthrauff (.323, 11 2B, 4 HR, 26 RBI) and freshman Katie Laing (..317, 15 2B, 21 RBI) have shown signs of giving Ciolli dedicated support in the Irish lineup.

The pitching staff has been steadily improving for the Irish since the team returned from spring break. Junior Heather Booth (17-5, 1.51 ERA, 141 Ks) has turned in just two sub-par starts (vs. Pacific, at DePaul) this season and has five shutouts and 15 complete games to her credit. Senior Steffany Stenglein (1.26 ERA, 17-5) has been close to untouchable during the months of March and April and is compiling one of the greatest strikeout seasons in Notre Dame history. In the end, opponents are hitting just .142 against Stenglein in 2005.

Notre Dame’s defense, unsure of itself early in the season, has benefitted from one positional move. Junior Sara Schoonaert has taken over at shortstop and performed well, while freshman Katie Laing has moved over to second base and been steady.

Sophomore Stephanie Brown (.319, 44 H 22 R) and junior Kellie Middleton (.304, 10 RBI, 16 SB) have started to give the Irish some production at the top of the lineup as well.

Ciolli looks to continue her climb up the career charts: Along with classmate Liz Hartmann, 2004 third-team All-American and BIG EAST Player of the Year Megan Ciolli has been a three-year starter since stepping on campus in 2001-02. Batting at the top of the lineup for a majority of her career (second freshman season, first sophomore season, third junior season), Ciolli has established herself as one of the top offensive players to ever don an Irish uniform.

Her current career rankings include second in batting average (.369 entering Friday’s doubleheader), fourth in runs scored, second in hits, ninth in home runs and seventh in triples. She also is poised to break into the top 10 in games played and doubles this season and is on pace to break the hit record this season (needing only three more to reach Jenny Kriech’s school mark). A complete list of current Notre Dame players threatening career records appear on page eight of this notes package.

Ciolli’s countdown for all-time records –

Hits: 265 (three to the record)

Runs: 150 (14 to the record)

Ciolli already set the single season record for stolen bases this year when she swiped her 22nd. She currently has 24 in 2005.

Ciolli becomes first Notre Dame NPF draft selection: National Pro Fastpitch announced its 2005 Senior College Player Selections last week and current Irish senior Megan Ciolli was selected by the Chicago Bandits with the first selection of the second round (seventh overall).

Due to NCAA regulations, an active college player may not sign with her respective franchise until their 2005 college season is finished. Senior selections expire on July 15, 2005.

The NPF officially announced that it will enter the 2005 season with six teams – the Akron Racers, Arizona Heat, Chicago Bandits, New England Riptide, NY/NJ Juggernaut and the Texas Thunder. The California Sunbirds will remain part of the league but will suspend play in 2005 to restructure the franchise.

The Bandits will be competing in their first season in the NPF and have already signed Olympic Team standout Jennie Finch. The season will run through June 2 through August 28 and will consist of a 48-game regular season schedule for each team, an all-star game, playoffs and a Championship Series. NPF continues to be the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball and has recently developed a new alliance with ASA/USA Softball and the International Softball Federation (ISF). This alliance will help promote international play by inviting teams from China, China Taipei, Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and Venezuela to play against NPF teams. A finalized schedule will be released in March.

Ruthrauff reaches 100 career RBI in just two-plus seasons: After senior Liz Hartmann cleared the 100-RBI barrier at Hawaii’s Spring Fling two weeks ago, junior Meagan Ruthrauff has joined her teammate in the 100-RBI club at Notre Dame.

Hartmann became the eighth player to post 100 RBI in a career – and Ruthrauff became the ninth last weekend in BIG EAST action. Ruthrauff drove in 54 last season, becoming just the second Irish player to post over 50 RBI in a season. The Irish first base currently has 107 career RBI.

16 hits at Loyola Chicago most in two years for ND: Notre Dame’s 16 team hits in a 10-0 victory at Loyola Chicago on Thursday, March 31, are the most for the team since the 2003 season. On April 23 vs. Valparaiso, the Irish pounded out 17 hits in a 15-1 victory. The school record for hits in a single game is 21 against Rhode Island in 1992.

Notre Dame earns second tournament title of 2005 at Hawaii Spring Fling: Notre Dame’s 4-0 run through an abbreviated Spring Fling tournament at the University of Hawaii earned the team its second tournament title of the year. Combined with the GRU Classic (Feb. 10-13 – see note that follows) Notre Dame joins the `01 team as the only Irish team to claim two early-season tournament titles (the `01 squad won the Holiday Inn Invitational at South Florida and the Frost Tournament in Chattanooga, Tenn.).

Notre Dame claims first initial weekend tournament title since 2001: Notre Dame’s three consecutive victories in the GRU Classic (Feb. 10-13) in Gainesville, Fla., pushed the Irish through to the tournament title. The first weekend tournament victory marks the first for Notre Dame since the 2001 season, when the Irish swept through the Holiday Inn Invitational at South Florida with a 5-0 record.

Irish own four wins over ranked teams in 2005: Notre Dame is 36-10 this season and four of those 36 victories have come against ranked teams. The Irish defeated #21 South Florida and #19 Florida on their first weekend out (Feb. 12-13), then knocked off #5/6 Tennessee last weekend in Palm Springs. Notre Dame also defeated #15 Northwestern with a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh on Tuesday, April 26.

Under head coach Deanna Gumpf, the Irish have knocked off at least three ranked teams in three of four seasons (#25 South Florida, #4 Nebraska, #15 Oregon State in `02; #8 Nebraska, #14 Nebraska, #18 Nebraska in `04). The most ranked wins for the Irish came in 2001, when the team defeated eight teams ranked in the national top 25.

First back-to-back ranked wins since 2001: Notre Dame’s victories over #21 South Florida (5-1) on Saturday, Feb. 12, and #19 Florida on Sunday, Feb. 13, marked the first time since the 2001 season the Irish have posted two consecutive wins over a ranked opponents.

During the 2001 season, the Irish swept a doubleheader from #10 DePaul on April 19. To find the last time the Irish defeated two consecutive different ranked teams, you will fall back to 2000, when Notre Dame defeated #16 La.-Lafayette and #6 Oklahoma on March 18 at the Kia Klassic.

South Bend plays host to the 2005 BIG EAST Championship: For the third time in the last four years, the BIG EAST Softball Championship will be held in a neutral/off-campus site in 2005.

After Salem, Va., served as the tournament’s site in 2002 and 2003, the City of South Bend, Ind., will welcome the 2005 BIG EAST Softball Championship to the Belleville Complex on the far west side of town.

The Belleville Complex is one of the best softball-only facilities in Indiana and served as host to over 3,000 fans when the U.S. Olympic Team played an exhibition doubleheader in July of 2005.

2005 BIG EAST Championship Schedule

Thursday, May 12
Game One – #2 seed vs. #3 seed – 5 p.m.
Game Two – #1 seed vs. #4 seed – 7 p.m.

Friday, May 13
Game Three – winner game one vs. winner game two – 3 p.m.
Game Four – loser game one vs. loser game two – 5 p.m.
Game Five – loser game three vs. winner game four – 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 14
Game Six – winner game three vs. winner game five – 1 p.m.
Game Seven – same teams if necessary – 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 15
Rain Date

California girls: While three trips to the west coast gives the Irish an opportunity to face several of the top teams in the country this season, Notre Dame’s appearances in San Diego (Feb. 18-20), Palm Springs (Feb. 25-27) and the Los Angeles area (March 6-7) also will provide the seven California natives on the team will a chance to play in their home state.

Heather Booth (Riverside), Liz Hartmann (Novato), Carissa Jaquish (Highland), Mallorie Lenn (Garden Grove), Meagan Ruthrauff (La Mirada), Steffany Stenglein (Huntington Beach) and Carrie Wisen (Fullerton) are the seven California natives on the `05 Irish roster.

Incoming freshman class of 2006: University of Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to national letters of intent last week, landing one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Brittney Bargar (Corona, Calif.), Christine Farrell (La Habra, Calif.), Erin Glasco (Johnston City, Ill.), Linda Kohan (Westminster, Calif.), Alexandra Kotcheff (Beverly Hills, Calif.), Stephanie Mola (Naples, Fla.) and Beth Northway (Kentwood, Mich.) will make up the class of 2009.

“This is one of the best recruiting classes I have seen in my career and I feel it is the best in the country,” Gumpf says of the group.

“The quality and diversity of this class is second to none. The entire staff is excited to have this group of players join the Notre Dame family.”

The class hails from across the country with four California natives, plus players from Michigan, Illinois and Florida. The group also is made up of two pitchers (Bargar, Farrell), a catcher (Glasco), an infielder (Kohan), two outfielders (Kotcheff, Mola) and an infielder/outfielder (Northway) – giving the class excellent balance at all positions.

BIG EAST loses one team before gaining three in 2006: With the shift of Virginia Tech to the ACC for the `05 season, the BIG EAST drops down to 10 teams this season before expanding to 13 teams next year when DePaul, South Florida and Louisville join the league (Marquette and Cincinnati to do not compete in softball).

With the addition of three traditional powers, the BIG EAST Conference will quickly become one of the best softball conferences east of the Mississippi.

Notre Dame will face two of the three new teams entering the league in 2006 this season. The Irish split two games with South Florida at the GRU Classic in Gainesville, Fla., and will travel to DePaul for a doubleheader on April 19.

High school teammates: Sophomore Stephanie Brown and freshman Katie Laing are just the third combination of high school teammates to play for the Irish since the program began. Both Brown and Laing played for Corona del Sol in the Chandler, Ariz., area during their prep careers. Debbie Boulac and Stephanie Pinter, both from South Bend, Ind., and St. Joseph High School, played together from 1990-93. Jennifer Sharron and Jessica Sharron, the first second set of sisters to play for the Irish, were on the Notre Dame roster together in 2000 and 2001.

Sisters Debbie and Diane Boulac both played for the Irish, but were not on the same team together.

Three options to keep track of Irish softball for out-of-town fans: The University of Notre Dame Sports Information Office offers three ways to keep up with Irish softball for fans who are out of town or unable to make it to Ivy Field.

Live Audio play-by-play of Notre Dame home games is available to subscribers of the College Sports Pass on Notre Dame Assistant Sports Information Director handles the play-by-play duties.

Go to Notre Dame’s official athletic website,, and click on the audio-video link at the top of the page to learn more about the College Sports Pass.

Gametracker, live statistical updates during Irish home games and selected away games, is also available for free this season.

Finally, for those not around a computer during competition, fans can call the Notre Dame Sports Hotline at 574-631-3000 to get updates on the Irish softball team. The hotline is updated with brief recaps as soon as possible after each Notre Dame game.

To access the softball information on the hotline, dial 574-631-3000, select 4 for baseball/softball, then 2 for softball information.