Feb. 5, 2014

Last but certainly not least in the Getting To Know Irish Softball series, the final installment of the preseason collection is about the “all 4” 2014 Notre Dame senior class: #42 Chloe Saganowich (Treasure Island, Fla.), #4 Lauren Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif.), #14 Monica Torres (Winter Springs, Fla.), and #44 Laura Winter (San Diego, Calif.).

A 2013 BIG EAST Academic All-Star, Saganowich played every inning in the field (386.1) at shortstop for Notre Dame in 2013, helping guide the Irish to a 43-15 record, including a 19-3 conference mark, and the program’s 13th BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship. Offensively, she finished the year with career-highs in home runs (3) and RBI (18), and tied a career-best with six doubles. Saganowich was selected to the 2013 BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament team after leading Notre Dame with a .556 batting average and adding a home run, two RBI and three runs in three tournament starts. She has also participated in Notre Dame’s innovative Rosenthal Leadership Academy for the past two years, and was selected as the unanimous Irish softball team captain for the 2014 season.

Stuhr earned BIG EAST Academic All-Star recognition as a junior in 2013, and set career-highs in batting average (.294), hits (37), doubles (7), home runs (5), RBI (20), slugging percentage (.484), on-base percentage (.405) and runs (23) in 53 games (52 starts). She also ranked fifth on the Irish with nine multiple-hit games, and chipped in six multi-RBI contests. Stuhr’s season-long, seven-game hitting streak began with back-to-back home runs against Georgia Tech (March 2) at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, one of five Notre Dame multi home run games that were recorded during the season.

Torres also earned BIG EAST Academic All-Star distinction in 2013, appearing in 31 games while scoring 11 runs and stealing two bases. She logged her first career hit, an RBI double, down the right field line against Boston College (March 2) in the opening game of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. Torres spent the 2013 summer studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, through Notre Dame’s Summer Language Abroad Program, concentrating on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. She was also one of Notre Dame softball’s representatives on the University’s 2012-13 Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).

The class’ fourth BIG EAST Academic All-Star, Winter was named the 2013 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, the eighth different player (10th overall selection) to earn the honor in program history. She was also selected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Great Lakes all-region first team and all-BIG EAST first team as a junior, and became the first Notre Dame player to cop Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National and USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week recognition last season. Winter tied a single-season program record with 17 home runs and added 52 RBI to pace the BIG EAST, and boasted a 29-12 record and career-low 1.72 ERA in the circle in 268.1 innings pitched, striking out a BIG EAST-high 306 batters while only yielding 33 walks. She is in her first year as a participant in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy.

The seniors reflected on their favorite Notre Dame memories, what they like to do away from the field, and how the class of 2014 would like to be remembered in Irish softball history.

What does it feel like to have finally reached your last semester at Notre Dame?

Lauren Stuhr: It’s scary, I’m not ready to be done.

Chloe Saganowich: I think it’s been a good run, and it’s exciting. It’s one last go. Ideally I would have liked to have had a job by now, but I don’t quite have that figured out yetââ’¬¦ (all laughing). But softball-wise, we’re ready to go.

LS: If there is anyone out there who would like to hire a couple of bright mindsââ’¬¦

CS: And we make a good team (all laughing).

Monica Torres: I think this has been really fun, though, like this semester and just knowing it’s the last one. It has made me enjoy every day that much more.

Laura Winter: In the past, we’ve gone out every day like it’s our last, but it really kind of resonates this year.

CS:ââ’¬¦Well, it is our last yearââ’¬¦

LW: Yes, but I meanââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

What has been your favorite Notre Dame memory?

CS: The first thing, every time we run out onto the field and they play the Rudy song, I think that’s pretty cool. Every time we do it I’m always like, this is awesome.

LS: I like hitting The (mini Play Like A Champion) Sign before every game. Some people take it for granted, but it’s part of Notre Dame and part of the tradition.

LW: I like everyone’s individualized handshakes because it means something to each other, but to everyone else it might look ridiculous. But it actually means something to people, and you just have that connection with teammates.

MT: It’s a little less serious, but I like when we all sing to YouTube videos that we watch before home games. We play YouTube videos in the team room, and it’s usually a good time. It’s one of my favorite team traditions.

What future plans do you have upon graduation? (met with laughter after what Chloe and Lauren said earlierââ’¬¦)

CS: My future plans are planning my future (all laughing).

MT: I’m going to move in with Laurenââ’¬¦

LS: That’s news to meââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: We actually have this brilliant idea that we are all just going to move to Chicago and live together, and it will be like real live Friends without the TV or jobs, we will see how long that would last.

LS: We could have our own TV showââ’¬¦

MT: It would start out in an apartment and end up in a boxââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: It would be our progression toward being homeless.

LW: We could hire (FTT major) Cassidy Whidden to run our TV show.

LS: The World’s Most Pathetic Senior Classââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: I wish we were a little more ambitiousââ’¬¦

MT: I feel like every other senior class, someone has had a job at this point.

LW: I have plans but I have to wait until the end of the season. I want to coach, so I just have to wait until things open up.

Describe your roles as senior leaders and mentors to the younger members of the team.

MT: I think we have done a really good job of unifying the team off the field this year. We are all on the same level and are open with each other. We facilitate that a lot, and I think that has been good.

CS: I feel like people can ask us questions regardless of if it has to do with softball or not, and that is kind of overlooked in sports. When people are afraid to ask questions you don’t get answers, and that’s where you hit a wall.

LS: Our class doesn’t try to do too much. We’re there when we need to be and we’re notââ’¬¦

MT: Going to be something we’re not.

Any nicknames, especially those given by the team?

CS: ‘Chole.’

MT: ‘Cholemonster,’ specificallyââ’¬¦

CS: Ok, that’s not true. It’s Chole because nobody can spell my name. It stemmed from (strength coach Kaitlin) Sweeney not being able to spell my name.

LS: But it wasn’t the first occurrenceââ’¬¦

CS: Apparently, people don’t understand that it’s klO-E and not Choleââ’¬¦ (everyone laughs).

LW: Well, (Chole) turned into the perfect cheer for youââ’¬¦

CS: Yeahââ’¬¦

LS: Well I’m ‘Lo,’ or alsoââ’¬¦

CS: No, ‘Grandma.’ She drives a Mercury van (all laughing).

LS: It’s not just ANY van, it’s a Mercury Villager. It’s like the worst of the worst.

CS: She also has other grandma tendencies, like weird sayingsââ’¬¦

MT: I’m ‘Mon’ââ’¬¦

CS: Or ‘Culture Creep.’ She is tribal, ethnicââ’¬¦

MT: People used to call me ‘Manana,’ Monica’s alter ego from Friends. That was mostly older people (from the team) that called me that.

CS: It never really stuckââ’¬¦

LW: I have ‘Big Red,’ but nobody really calls me that to my face. I mean occasionally in passing, but like I go up to (Chloe) all the time and say, “Hey Chole.” It’s not like, “Hey, Big Red.”

LS: That’s trueââ’¬¦

CS: That is true, it’s more of an on the field thing I would say.

LS: It just works well for cheers.

LW: It does work well with cheers. We’ll just stick to that, I’m all right with thatââ’¬¦

LS: Coming from the person who cheers the leastââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: We’re not the most “cheery” class.

LW: (clapping) We clapââ’¬¦

What is your favorite activity away from softball?

MT: Um, we like to crochetââ’¬¦ (all laughing). We also build houses out of Popsicle sticksââ’¬¦ And Laura has a catââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

LW: It always gets brought up, but I do have a cat.

CS: I like to readââ’¬¦

MT: Shut up, no you don’tââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: I don’t have any hobbies, it’s just softball. Softball andââ’¬¦

MT: I like music, and hanging out with friends.

LS: I like to hang out with friends.

MT: And I like to cookââ’¬¦

CS: (Points at Lauren) We have been killing it in the kitchen, really.

LS: We have. We have made some good meals, and healthy tooââ’¬¦

LW: Well done.

Do you have any pregame/at-bat/pitching rituals?

LW: I have to walk through my first two pitches (in between each inning). I don’t know why, I just do.

CS: Whatever is working at the time, I just stick with and roll with that.

LS: I’m really superstitious about my headband and ribbon combination, so if I’m hitting well I stick with the same ones. If not, then I change them. When I go up to bat I always lick my batting gloves, twist my bat and stare at it, and then get in the box.

MT: I’m not very superstitious but one thing I do always have to do is sing the National Anthem out loud. With Jackie Bowe (’13) not singing anymore I can sing a little quieterââ’¬¦

LW: I don’t remember who I was standing next to the last time and they were trying to sing. I was like no, this is bad (all laughing).

Favorite place on campus and why?

LW: The tunnelsââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: The underground tunnel? When have you ever been there?!

LW: No, I have not.

LS: Then you don’t know it’s your favoriteââ’¬¦

CS: It’s probably dark and damp down there.

MT: Yeah, we veto that. Pick something elseââ’¬¦

LW: I like any view on campus where you can see both the Basilica and The Dome in view.

LS: We were talking about it today in practice, but I really like dining hall chats. After you’re done with dinner, just hanging out, people watchingââ’¬¦

CS: I like to drive onto campus down Notre Dame Ave. That’s my favoriteââ’¬¦

LW: When it’s greenââ’¬¦

CS: Any time of the year, it’s always pretty. It’s my first memory of being here when I was 14 and in eighth grade.

LS: No matter how gloomy the sky is, The Dome always looks pretty (all agree).

CS: That’s why I like itââ’¬¦

MT: I would have to say I really like The Grotto, and I like the view looking out over the Arch toward the lakes. It’s pretty.

What words do you feel best describe your class?

LS: Diverse.

CS: We are very different, but we have always gotten along as a class. We have never had any issuesââ’¬¦

MT: Compatible.

LS: I would say we are uniqueââ’¬¦

LW: We do like to play pranks on each other.

LS: We’re personableââ’¬¦

MT: We’re just a great group of galsââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

CS: Just your average, wholesome group of girls.

MT: Wholesome, yeah, ok.

CS:ââ’¬¦I don’t even know what that meansââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

MT: Wholesome is like Goody Two Shoesââ’¬¦

CS: Oh, then scratch that.

LS: Not necessarilyââ’¬¦

CS: No, we’re real. We were the worst lifting class on the whole team for a while besides Monicaââ’¬¦ (all laughing). To this day, Lauren and I can only bench pretty much the barââ’¬¦

LS: It’s like SpongeBob when he put the teddy bears on each end of the toothpickââ’¬¦ (all laughing).

MT: And I can lift the rest of you over my head (all laughing).

CS: Monica does chin-ups with like 45 pounds hanging off herââ’¬¦

MT: Megan (Sorlie) did challenge me, and I never back down from a challenge on or off the field…

LW: Way to go.

CS: That’s just the kind of class we are (all laughing).

What do you want your legacy as a class to be after you leave Notre Dame?

MT: I want us to be the class that took Notre Dame softball to the next level.

CS: I want to go out on topââ’¬¦

MT: To go out as the senior class of the best team that the program has ever had.

LS: And the best senior class the program has ever had. I want us to be the class that gets it done, like the clutch class that you know you can always count on, on or off the field. People could come to us, we were good teammates and good friends, but also took care of business.

What would it mean to you to leave Notre Dame softball with the program in an even better place?

LS: I think the culture of our team has changed a lot since our first year, and our team has a lot more chemistry now. Everyone is almost too good of friends sometimesââ’¬¦

LW: It kind of went from everyone being an individual who was on the team to all of a sudden, we are a team, and we’re unified.

LS: Our team definitely feels like it has become even more unified over the past four years.

CS: All teams go through transitions, and it comes in waves, but I feel like since we’ve been a part of this program it’s been a very positive one.

MT: We have all gotten better as we’ve gone on, and the culture has changed. We expect to treat each other like sisters.

And with that, the final edition of Getting To Know Irish Softball is now in the books. Be sure to track the team’s progress this weekend at the season opening Auburn Plainsman Invitational in Auburn, Ala.

For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.


— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant