Jody Valdivia and the Irish begin a four-game week with Wednesday's game versus IUPUI.

Home Opener Against IUPUI To Be Played At Ivy Field, BIG EAST Portion Of Schedule Starts This Weekend For Irish Against No. 17 DePaul

March 25, 2008

Games Notes Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Following a midseason non-conference win over Western Michigan last week, the Notre Dame softball team returns to campus for its 2008 home opener against IUPUI on Wednesday (March 26). The brief home stint will be trailed by contests at Illinois-Chicago (March 27) and No. 17 DePaul (March 30).

The battle against the Jaguars on Wednesday will be played at Ivy Field – as will all home games scheduled prior to April 12 – as the finishing touches are being put on Melissa Cook Stadium. IUPUI (1-8 overall, 0-3 Summit) picked up its first win of the season earlier in the week by splitting a doubleheader with Dayton. The early portion of the Jag’s season has been abbreviated due to inclement weather that has forced the cancellation or postponement of several games.

The Irish have won eight of the previous 10 matches with Illinois-Chicago, including six wins from 2000-03, and last dropped a game at Flames Field in 1999. Junior Melissa Marinacci was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Tuesday for the 9-18 Flames. Marinacci recorded a .500 batting average (3-for-6) in two games at last week’s Indiana University Classic. She was 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs and five RBI in an 8-4 win over Louisville on March 21, belting a grand slam and a solo homer against the Cardinals.

DePaul (19-9), Notre Dame’s most frequented opponent in program history, topped the BIG EAST’s preseason poll after running through regular season league play in 2007 with a flawless 20-0 record. Notre Dame has dropped three of the last four games played on DePaul’s home turf, while the teams have split their last two meetings in the NCAA Tournament at neutral sites with DePaul taking the most recent pairing with an 8-6 win in 2004. The Irish eliminated DePaul from the 2007 BIG EAST Conference Tournament, 8-2, when the Blue Demons were ranked 12th in the nation. One of Notre Dame’s two ties in program history was recorded in 1990 when the Irish and Blue Demons battled to an 11-inning stalemate, ending the game with a score of 0-0.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(15-9 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST)

IUPUI Jaguars
(1-8 overall, 0-0 Summit)
Ivy Field • Wednesday, March 26
University of Notre Dame • Notre Dame, Ind.
Live stats / Audio:

Illinois-Chicago Flames
(9-18 overall, 0-0 Horizon)
Flames Field • Thursday, March 27
University of Illinois at Chicago • Chicago, Ill.
Live stats:

No. 17 DePaul Blue Demons
(19-9 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST)
Cacciatore Stadium • Sunday, March 30
DePaul University • Chicago, Ill.
Live stats:

Bargar Brings the Heat … After claiming her 12th win of the season with a 2-0 shutout over Western Michigan, Brittney Bargar moved into seventh-place on the school’s all-time wins list with her 50th career victory from the circle … Angela Bessolo (1996-99) is sixth with 53 … as of March 25, Bargar ranked 14th nationally with a 0.83 ERA … that mark is second in the BIG EAST Conference, trailing only South Florida’s Capri Catalano (0.77) … Bargar is tied for 30th among pitchers around the country with a .706 (12-5) winning percentage … Notre Dame’s pitching staff sits 20th overall with a 1.43 ERA.

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.

Leading It Off the Right Way … Leadoff batter Sadie Pitzenberger’s job is to get on base, and the freshman has been doing it very well as of late … not only does she lead the team with a .338 batting average, but she is carrying a 10-game consecutive hitting streak into Wednesday’s meeting with IUPUI … and her work doesn’t stop once she gets on base … she also paces the team in runs scored by crossing the plate 19 times (Notre Dame has scored 99 runs all season) and has stolen a team-high nine bags.

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 to shutouts – while giving up only 13 hits in 17.1 frames … Bargar struck out 12 batters over that interval and allowed one earned run … in her 18 appearances this season heading into a March 20 showdown at Western Michigan, Bargar has not let an earned run cross the plate in a dozen of those outings … she has 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) … the Buccaneers took a brief 2-0 lead in the top of the third before the Irish pounded out nine hits in the visitor’s half of the frame to post the double-figure total … 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 … each of the 10 hits against Campbell (March 15) were singles … 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 park 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 … Bargar leads the Irish pitching corps with an 8-5 record and a 1.00 ERA that ranks second among league tossers … she has pitched 77.1 innings and has held opponents to a .203 batting average … a mere eleven of the 23 runs scored by opposing teams while facing Bargar this season have been earned.

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 ranked opponents 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).

Making a Splash at the Aquafinia Invite … A morning loss to Gardner-Webb in the two team’s first ever meeting was followed by a shutout win over North Florida for Notre Dame on the opening day of the Aquafina Invitational … Brittney Bargar provided 3.1 innings of relief work from the circle against Gardner-Webb, scattering two hits without permitting a run … the Irish scored two runs in the sixth inning after punching in four hits … both Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Fleury had two hits apiece to pace Notre Dame … Barger came back and threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball and struck out seven Lady Ospreys in Notre Dame’s first win over North Florida … Katie Laing led Notre Dame with two hits, and Christine Lux added a double … freshman Jody Valdivia and Bargar combined to pitch 13.0 innings without surrendering an earned run on the second day of the invite … Valdivia picked up her first career win in an Irish uniform by going 7.0 innings against North Florida, giving up only one hit while fanning seven batters … then after holding No. 7 Florida scoreless through five frames, Bargar let a trio of unearned runs cross the plate in the sixth despite giving up only five hits and two walks in the contest … Notre Dame held a 2-0 lead over the undefeated Gators until that three-run sixth gave Florida its come-from-behind win … Notre Dame began its first inning against the Gators with Pitzenberger reaching base after getting hit by a Stacey Nelson pitch … Pitzenberger advanced to third on a Gator throwing error, and would score when Laing grounded out to short with one out … that score snapped Nelson’s 40.0 inning scoreless streak which dated back to a Feb. 10 game against South Florida … three runs on three hits and one Irish error gave Florida its lead in the bottom of the sixth … the Irish totaled five hits in game two against UNF’s Devyn Findley, with two of those coming off the bat of Linda Kohan who finished the night a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish … the junior also registered the team’s lone RBI, a fourth-inning single that plated Sarah SmithHeather Johnson and Erin Marrone each recorded doubles for Notre Dame, who managed the win despite stranding nine runners on base … day three featured the Irish and Gators in the tournament’s championship game … the Gators turned away the Irish with a 5-2 win … Smith recorded Notre Dame’s first hit of the afternoon – a single to shallow left – to leadoff the sixth … a single up the gut of the Gator defense by Pitzenberger put two on the pond, and Fleury drew a walk to juice the bags … Nelson fired in a double-play ball to relieve two Irish players, but Johnson delivered a two-out single to left that scored a pair of runs for Notre Dame … Pitzenberger had five hits over the course of the tournament to lead the Irish, while Johnson posted a team-high three RBI.

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 … 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 … the program has won over 250 contest since 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.