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Incoming Irish Class Continues To Impress

July 5, 2017

by Tony Jones

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — As the summer months draw ever closer to the start of the 2017-18 academic year, incoming members of the latest University of Notre Dame softball signing class have enjoyed stellar campaigns on both the high school and travel diamond in advance of their freshman season. Here is a look at what the five Irish high school class of 2017 graduates have been up to since signing with Notre Dame last fall:

Alexis Holloway (John Smierciak-Post-Tribune)Gatorade Indiana Softball Player of the Year Alexis Holloway and Crown Point High School won the school’s first Class 4A state championship last month (John Smierciak/Post-Tribune)

Alexis Holloway – RHP – 5-3 – R/R – Crown Point – Crown Point, Indiana

Alexis Holloway cemented her claim to being not only the top high school softball player in the state of Indiana, but one of the top players nationally after a storybook senior campaign at Crown Point High School. The Lady Bulldogs won the first Class 4A state championship in school history on June 10 with a 2-1 win over Avon in Indianapolis, riding the strong pitching of Holloway up the ladder through the state tournament.

Holloway, who claimed the Class 4A Mental Attitude Award for softball (the highest award presented annually to a senior by the Indiana High School Athletic Association), finished the 30-2 Crown Point championship season with a heroinic run on the mound to the state title. She struck out 20 batters in a 3-1 win in 13 innings over No. 8 Penn, then followed up with 16 strikeouts in a one-hit showing during a 3-0 shutout of Hamilton Southeastern to claim the Class 4A Harrison semistate title on June 3 to help Crown Point advance to the Class 4A title game. A four-hit effort with six strikeouts against Avon guided the Lady Bulldogs to victory the following weekend.

Final Holloway statistics for the season included a 22-1 record in the circle, to go along with a 0.26 ERA and 277 strikeouts in only 164.1 innings pitched. The right-hander finished her Crown Point career with a sub-0.40 ERA, more than 50 wins, more than 730 strikeouts and an opposing batting average hovering just over .100 in four seasons.

Crown Point ultimately finished seventh in the USA Today Super 25 national high school softball poll. Named the Gatorade Indiana Softball Player of the Year, Holloway was also recognized as the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) National High School Player of the Year, the FloSoftball High School Player of the Year and the Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune Player of the Year. Along with first team Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association (ICGSA) All-State first team accolades, Holloway was recognized as a first team All-American nationally by FloSoftball (and is rated the top incoming pitcher nationally in the high school class of 2017) and USA Today, and will take part in the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) High School All-American Game on July 28 in Irvine, California.

Morgan Ryan (far left) and Hempfield Area High School won a second straight state championship last month (Antonella Crescimbeni/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)Gatorade Pennsylvania Softball Player of the Year Morgan Ryan (first from left) and Hempfield Area High School won a second straight state championship last month (Antonella Crescimbeni/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Morgan Ryan – RHP – 5-10 – R/R – Hempfield – Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Morgan Ryan added a state championship of her own as a senior, guiding Hempfield Area High School to a second straight Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship on June 15. The Spartans finished the 2017 season a perfect 27-0 (with 41 straight wins dating back to 2016), and became the first team in Pennsylvania high school softball history to win back-to-back state championships in the state’s highest classification (4A in 2016, jumped to 6A in 2017).

Ryan was a dual standout for Hempfield on the mound and at the plate, traits that earned the senior hurler Gatorade Pennsylvania Softball Player of the Year honors. She posted a 22-0 record with a 1.00 ERA in 140 innings pitched as a senior, adding 199 strikeouts. Ryan’s impact as the team’s cleanup hitter on offense was felt to the tune of a batting average over .450 with five home runs and 37 RBI. The Hempfield career leader with 73 pitching wins, Ryan also concluded her high school career as the all-time leader in home runs (16) and RBI (100) during her time with the Spartans.

Along with her Gatorade Player of the Year nod, Ryan was recognized as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Softball Player of the Year and as a PGF Northeast Regional All-American. Alongside teammates with the Ohio Outlaws on the club circuit, Ryan was part of the victorious 18U squad at the Team New Jersey Summer Classic last month. The tournament bracket featured over 50 teams from all across the United States, including entries from New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

Abby Sweet was one of the standout players for Hart High School in 2017 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/The Signal)Abby Sweet was one of the standout players for Hart High School in 2017 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/The Signal)

Abby Sweet – OF/IF – 5-9 – R/R – Hart – Newhall, California

Abby Sweet and the Hart High School softball team embarked on an inspired playoff run to the finals of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF)-Southern Section Division 3 tournament. The team emerged victorious in six straight elimination games to reach the final tournament round.

Starting at third base during her senior season, Sweet batted .415 with 12 doubles, five home runs, 29 RBI and 52 runs in only 33 games. The 52 runs and 44 hits were both career-highs for Sweet, along with her 18 extra-base hits and a .544 on-base percentage. In four seasons at Hart, Sweet batted over .400 with more than 150 hits, adding 149 runs and 99 RBI.

Sweet was a first team selection to the Los Angeles Daily News all-area squad, as well as all-CIF Division 3 and first team all-Foothill League as a senior. She was also announced as a first team selection in Santa Clarita Valley by the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.

Riley Wester became the fifth Notre Dame softball player named to the Edison High School Athletics Hall of Fame in JuneRiley Wester became the fifth past/present Notre Dame softball player to be named to the Edison High School Athletics Hall of Fame

Riley Wester – OF – 5-3 – L/R – Edison – Huntington Beach, California

Riley Wester joined fellow Notre Dame outfielders and sisters Karley Wester (2013) and Ali Wester (2015) by being inducted into the Edison High School Athletics Hall of Fame in June. Other Irish softball players previously enshrined in the hall of fame at Edison alongside the Westers include Dani Miller (2008) and Casey Africano (2012).

Wester also claimed Edison High School Female Athlete of the Year accolades in recognition of her accomplishments in both softball and field hockey, joining her elder sisters as winners of the award at the conclusion of their senior high school seasons. She was recognized on the 2017 all-Sunset League first team, played for the West in the Orange County Seniors All-Star Game, and represented the So Cal All-Stars in exhibition games against Team USA and Mexico in June in Irvine.

On the club circuit, Wester and the Firecrackers Rico U18 Gold team recently won the 18U Power Pool championship at the Colorado Fireworks Sparkler Tournament. The reigning PGF National champions who are set to defend that title in August, the Firecrackers Rico U18 team posted a 7-1 mark in Colorado against one of the premier travel softball tournament fields in the country.

Sarah Genz looks to bounce back from a senior year injury rated among the top 100 incoming freshmen in the nationSarah Genz looks to bounce back from a senior year injury as one of the top 100 incoming freshmen in the nation

Sarah Genz – IF – 5-7 – R/R – Homeschooled – Lakeville, Minnesota

Sarah Genz missed her senior softball season at Lakeville North High School due to injury, but is expected to return to the diamond prior to the start of the 2018 Notre Dame softball season. Genz batted .519 and was an all-conference selection in her only season at Lakeville North in 2016, and was among the top 100 players (#81) in the 2017 FloSoftball Hot 100 rankings.

Genz has already arrived on the Notre Dame campus for summer school courses, alongside a number of fellow Irish teammates, in preparation for the 2017-18 academic year.

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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 Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.