March 31, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville
April 1-3, 2017
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(17-13, 4-5 ACC in 2017)
#RV Louisville Cardinals
(20-8, 4-0 ACC in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule
Saturday, April 1
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville – Noon (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Sunday, April 2
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville – 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU
Monday, April 3
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville – 7 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team returns to the road for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series this weekend at Louisville. Game one of the series is scheduled for noon (ET) on Saturday on ACC Network Extra, with game two to follow at 2 p.m. on Sunday on ESPNU. Weather permitting, the series finale will be played on Monday at 7 p.m. at Ulmer Stadium.
Irish Slap Hits
– Notre Dame has amassed a 1,163-507-3 (.696) all-time record, 30 combined conference championships (19 regular season, 11 tournament) and 21 NCAA Regional appearances, which has included 18 straight berths into the NCAA Championship tournament.
– A combined three-hitter tossed by Katie Beriont, Caitlyn Brooks and Rachel Nasland was the catalyst for the fifth straight win for Notre Dame on Wednesday night. The strong Irish pitching effort set the tone in a 1-0 nonconference shutout of Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium.
– Notre Dame closed its opening homestand of the 2017 season a perfect 5-0 at Melissa Cook Stadium with the win over Eastern Michigan, outscoring opponents 36-9 in those games.
– The Irish have won their last 24 nonconference midweek games at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to the 2013 season.
– Notre Dame opened ACC play at Melissa Cook Stadium for the 2017 season with three-game sweep of Virginia Tech on March 24-25. The Irish outscored the Hokies 24-6 during the weekend set, outhitting Virginia Tech 36-16 on their way to posting a .450 team batting average.
– In game two against Virginia Tech on March 24, senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester became the all-time Notre Dame softball hits leader by notching her 285th career base hit in the first inning against the Hokies as part of a 4-for-4 game with two runs scored.
– Notre Dame returns to Louisville for the first time since 2011, after making 11 prior visits to Ulmer Stadium in BIG EAST Conference play.
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 28th straight season with a .500 record or better with a 43-13 final mark to close the 2016 campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has logged 29 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
First ’17 Shutout At MCS Vs. EMU
A combined three-hitter powered Notre Dame to a 1-0 win over Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night, capping a perfect five-game homestand at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Since the stadium officially opened its doors during the 2008 season, Notre Dame has compiled a 141-24-1 (.852) record in home games following the midweek victory over Eastern Michigan. The Irish have averaged 15 wins per season at Melissa Cook Stadium during that span, topping out with 20 victories in 2015.
Rarity Of A 1-0 Home Win
Notre Dame earned its first 1-0 win over any opponent since blanking Pacific by that score on Feb. 20, 2014 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with its shutout of Eastern Michigan on Wednesday.
It was just the second 1-0 Notre Dame win ever at Melissa Cook Stadium, and the first since the third game in the history of the facility on April 14, 2008 against Rutgers.
K. Wester Stands Alone On Hits List
In last Friday’s nightcap against Virginia Tech, senior captain Karley Wester became the all-time Notre Dame softball hits leader by notching her 285th career base hit in the first inning as part of a 4-for-4 game (her fourth career four-hit game at Notre Dame) with two runs scored. Wester, the active career hits leader in NCAA softball with 289 entering this weekend’s series at Louisville, surpassed the Notre Dame hits record set by fellow two-time All-American Megan Ciolli (’05, 284) in 2005.
Coming across as the lead run on a four-base error that began with sister Ali at the plate against Mercer on March 15, Wester officially scored for the 197th time at Notre Dame to eclipse the career runs record previously held by Irish softball’s only three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (’15).
Wester, already the Irish softball career steals leader, joined baseball greats Steve Stanley (1999-2002, 116) and Scott Sollmann (1994-96, 101) as the only players to record 100 or more stolen bases wearing a Notre Dame uniform earlier this season.
With a successful swiped bag in the top of the third inning against No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25, Wester passed Sollmann for second place on the all-time Notre Dame stolen bases list with her 102nd steal. She sits just five career steals shy of eclipsing Stanley’s Irish benchmark with 112 stolen bases in 128 attempts.
Irish Offense Heats Up
Over the first five home games of the 2017 season, Notre Dame remained red hot at the plate inside Melissa Cook Stadium. Irish players batted a combined .413 as a team inside their friendly confines, outscoring opponents 36-9 with 35 RBI during the five-game winning streak against Michigan State (11-3, March 22), Virginia Tech (6-1/9-1, March 24; 9-4, March 25) and Eastern Michigan (1-0 on Wednesday).
A total of seven of the nine regular Notre Dame starters batted .400 or above during the past five games. Along with 18 walks and being hit by pitch six times, the Irish have compiled a .500 on-base percentage over their past five starts.
Sullivan Slugs Away For Irish
Kimmy Sullivan registered her second straight two-hit game, and third in four starts, with a 2-for-3 outing that included a double against Eastern Michigan.
Over her last five starts, Sullivan is batting .438 with four doubles, a home run, six RBI, an .875 slugging percentage and four runs scored. After 29 games played thus far this season (28 starts), the senior infielder/outfielder leads all Notre Dame hitters with seven doubles.
Ali Makes The Offense Tick
Following an 8-for-15 (.533) week at the plate to open her 2017 offensive account at Melissa Cook Stadium, Ali Wester has assumed the Notre Dame team lead with 41 hits this season. The sophomore outfielder has also paced the Irish with 11 multiple-hit games over her 30 starts, with two or more hits in five of her past nine appearances overall.
Along with her hits tally, Wester leads all Notre Dame players with 25 runs scored. She has also chipped in the team’s second-best batting average, a clip of .383, entering this weekend’s series at Louisville.
Irish Pitchers Find Their Groove
During the current Notre Dame five-game winning streak, the Irish pitching staff has more than held its own inside the circle. Rachel Nasland, Katie Beriont and Caitlyn Brooks have supplemented a resurgent Notre Dame offense with a 2.03 ERA and .212 batting average against in those contests, scattering 24 total hits in 31 innings.
Irish Against The ACC
Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, Notre Dame is a combined 165-60 (.733) against the current ACC membership. Notre Dame capped its first ACC sweep of 2017 by claiming all three games from Virginia Tech on March 24-25. The Irish have earned 13 sweeps since joining the ACC in 2014.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame enters this weekend with a 16-15 (.516) all-time series edge over Louisville, including a 10-9 mark in conference play split between the BIG EAST and ACC.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
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.