March 10, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
March 11-12, 2017
#RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(10-8 in 2017)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
(6-14, 0-3 ACC in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule
Sunday, March 12
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech – Noon (ET)/ACC Network Extra
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The 2017 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schedule officially opens for the University of Notre Dame softball team this weekend, as the Irish open a three-game league slate at Georgia Tech on March 11 in Atlanta. This weekend’s series marks just the second time that Notre Dame has traveled to Mewborn Field on the Georgia Tech campus, and the first since claiming a 2-1 series victory on March 8-9, 2014 over the Yellow Jackets in the first ACC series for the Irish in program history.
Irish Slap Hits
– Notre Dame has amassed a 1,156-502-3 (.697) 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.
– Notre Dame completed an undefeated trip to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on March 4-5. The Irish downed Purdue 6-1, FIU 5-3 in eight innings, Chattanooga 9-1 in five innings and Charlotte 4-0 to cap the 4-0 road trip to Kissimmee, Florida.
– Notre Dame improved to 27-4 (.871) at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic since 2011, while outscoring opponents by a combined 24-5 run count during the four-game weekend sweep. The Irish are unbeaten in their last 10 games at the Citrus Classic since 2015.
– Notre Dame’s three wins over national top 15 foes in February were the most by any Irish team in that month in program history. From Feb. 12 at No. 8 UCLA to a Feb. 25 showdown with No. 4/5 Oklahoma, Notre Dame played 10 straight games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 polls.
– Notre Dame now has 20 wins over ranked foes since 2013, including 10 victories over the top 10, following its 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25. Notre Dame earned its fifth win in series history over Oklahoma, including its fourth when the Sooners have been ranked in the national top 10. The win over the national No. 4 team matched the highest ranked win in program history.
– Notre Dame is set to make just its second road trip to Georgia Tech, and its first since the inaugural Irish season in the ACC in 2014.
– 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.
Unblemished At Disney
Notre Dame put the finishing touches on an undefeated weekend with a pair of Sunday wins to close the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Irish defeated Chattanooga 9-1 in five innings before blanking Charlotte 4-0 on March 5 to cap a 4-0 weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Notre Dame improved to 27-4 (.871) at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic since 2011, and outscored opponents by a combined 24-5 run count during the four-game weekend sweep.
Waking Up The Bats In Florida
Notre Dame found the keys to the offensive car last weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The Irish batted .312 with 34 hits (eight for extra bases) with 20 RBI to sweep their four games in the Sunshine State.
Karley Wester batted a team-high .467 (7-for-15) with three RBI and five runs scored, and added three stolen bases out of the leadoff spot in the Notre Dame lineup. Melissa Rochford added four hits, including a double, and a team-high four RBI during the weekend. Morgan Reed chipped in four hits, three RBI and three runs scored, while Kimmy Sullivan finished second behind Wester with four runs scored for the tournament.
Pitcher’s Patch Shines At ESPN WWOS
The pitching staff of Notre Dame enjoyed its best combined outings of the 2017 season during the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Irish ‘Pitcher’s Patch’ yielded only three earned runs (0.78 ERA) in 27 innings against Purdue, FIU, Chattanooga and Charlotte.
Rachel Nasland spun 15.2 innings over three appearances (two starts) without allowing an earned run, walking just one batter and striking out 11 as part of a 2-0 weekend. Katie Beriont posted a strong 1.62 ERA over two appearances (one start), walking one with seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Caitlyn Brooks added a 2.00 ERA in her seven innings to also join Nasland at 2-0.
Arduous Test Passed By Irish
Over its first 14 contests, Notre Dame played 10 straight games against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 polls at first pitch. The month of February for Notre Dame, from this aspect, featured a stronger strength of schedule than any team currently ranked in the NFCA top 25 coaches poll.
As of March 1, Notre Dame faced nine top 25 opponents, notching three wins against teams in the top 15 (No. 4 Oklahoma on Feb. 25, No. 11 Georgia on Feb. 24, No. 11 Michigan on Feb. 18). Current No. 10 UCLA took on seven top 25 foes in the season’s opening month, while current No. 17 Michigan played in five ranked matchups in February.
K. Wester After More ND History
Following a seven-hit, five-run weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester continued her ascent up the Notre Dame record book.
Wester enters play at Georgia Tech a mere 15 hits from becoming the all-time Irish softball hit queen, and would supplant a record set by fellow two All-American Megan Ciolli (284) in 2005. Other All-Americans just ahead of Wester on the hits list are Stephanie Brown (’07) with 277 hits, and Notre Dame’s only three-time softball All-American Emilee Koerner (’15) with 274 hits.
The five-run surge to 191 for Wester in Kissimmee pulled her within six runs of surpassing Koerner (196) for the Notre Dame softball career runs lead. Teammates in 2014 and 2015, Wester and Koerner are more than 25 runs clear of Brown (166) in third place.
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 12 career steals shy of Stanley’s Irish benchmark with 105 stolen bases in 119 attempts.
Freshmen Step Up Big For Irish
Members of Notre Dame’s freshman class again answered the challenge for the Irish during last weekend’s sweep at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Chelsea Purcell notched her first career RBI on a double in the fifth inning against Purdue on March 4, adding her first career triple and a run scored later in the weekend against Chattanooga (March 5). Katie Marino clubbed her third home run in seven games, sending the winning three-run shot out in the second inning of a shutout win over Charlotte. Alexis Bazos picked up her first two career hits in a Notre Dame uniform, reaching by way of slap singles in her only official at-bats against Purdue and Charlotte. Madison Heide registered 15 putouts and one assist behind the plate as the primary catcher for Rachel Nasland, holding opponents to no earned runs with Nasland in the circle.
Irish Against The ACC
Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, Notre Dame is a combined 161-55 (.745) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame enters this weekend with a 9-1 (.900) all-time series edge over Georgia Tech.
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.