March 1, 2018
by Tony Jones
#RV Notre Dame at Diamond 9 Citrus Classic
March 2-4, 2018
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
No. RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(7-7 in 2018)
(5-4 in 2018)
(1-9 in 2018)
(1-3 in 2018)
(9-8 in 2018)
Robert Morris Colonials
(3-6 in 2018)
Notre Dame Diamond 9 Citrus Classic Schedule
Friday, March 2
No. RV Notre Dame vs. UMass – 2:30 p.m. (ET)
No. RV Notre Dame vs. Fordham – 5 p.m. (ET)
Saturday, March 3
No. RV Notre Dame vs. Binghamton – 12:30 p.m. (ET)
No. RV Notre Dame vs. FIU – 3 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, March 4
No. RV Notre Dame vs. Robert Morris – 11:30 a.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The final nonconference tournament of the 2018 regular season for the University of Notre Dame softball team is set to commence this weekend. The Irish return to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic for the eighth straight year and will play five games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida.
No. RV Notre Dame (7-7) headlines an 11-team college field at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic that includes FIU, Ball State, Fordham, UMass, Delaware, UC Santa Barbara, Binghamton, Robert Morris, Troy and Niagara. The Irish are a combined 27-4 at the Citrus Classic since the 2011 season.
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.
Irish Storm Past St. John’s
In its final game of the 2018 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Notre Dame rode 10 hits on offense and a three-hit performance on defense in a 7-1 win over St. John’s on Feb. 24 on Pawtucket Field at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex.
No. RV/25 Notre Dame rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit to score the game’s final seven runs against St. John’s, blitzing the Red Storm for five runs over the first three innings alone. Ali Wester, Abby Sweet, Cait Brooks, Katie Marino and Sarah Genz each finished with runs batted in toward the Irish cause.
Notre Dame improved to 36-1 all-time in its series against St. John’s, winning for just the second time on a neutral field. It was the first time that the teams had ever met outside of either Indiana, New York or Kentucky. The Irish and Red Storm faced off in the 2012 BIG EAST Championship at Louisville in the only prior neutral site meeting between the teams.
Irish Tested Early In 2018
As is the case on an annual basis, Notre Dame often fashions one of the most challenging early-season schedules in the country to prepare for conference play. Thus far 2018 has been no exception, as the Irish have played a total of eight top-25 opponents in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll over their first 14 games, including seven straight meetings with top-20 foes from Feb. 17-23.
No other team in the current NFCA top five has played more than four ranked opponents this season, and No. 5 Tennessee is the only team amongst the top 10 that can boast more wins against the top 25 (4) than Notre Dame’s three as of March 1.
Notre Dame capped a 3-1 weekend at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge by downing No. 14 Minnesota (twice) and No. 20/19 Michigan on Feb. 17-18.
Freshmen Making Their Impact
Sarah Genz was the latest Notre Dame freshman to contribute to the Irish offensive cause last weekend, ripping her first career hit and driving in her first career run against St. John’s.
Along with Genz, classmates Abby Sweet and Alexis Holloway have found the offensive stat sheet during their debut season. Sweet ranks third on the Notre Dame team with a .333 batting average and 14 hits, adding three RBI. Holloway notched her first career RBI with the bases loaded to down No. 20/19 Michigan on Feb. 18.
Ali’s Triumphant Return
After not batting during the opening tournament of the season, and easing back into the order at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, Ali Wester burst back on the offensive map for Notre Dame last weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
The highlight for the Irish slap hitter was an impressive 4-for-4 evening against No. 6/9 Texas A&M, one of the hottest teams in Division I softball. It was the third time in Wester’s career that she fashioned a four-hit day, and the second such 4-for-4 performance to go along with a matching outing in game two of a doubleheader against FIU on March 9, 2016.
Wester is second among active Notre Dame players in both career hits (157) and runs scored (98), trailing only senior Morgan Reed in both categories.
Irish Historically At Disney
Notre Dame returns to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic for the eighth straight season dating back to 2011, logging a cumulative 27-4 (.871) record in tournament play. The Irish are unbeaten in the event since a 6-1 setback against No. RV Mississippi State on March 1, 2015.
The 2018 Citrus Classic marks the fourth time that Notre Dame will play five games during the tournament weekend, along with the 2011, 2014 and 2016 editions of the tournament. In the three prior instances of five-game weekends at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Irish are a combined 13-2 (.867).
Irish Against the Opposition
Notre Dame is a combined 10-4 (.714) against its five opponents at this weekend’s Diamond 9 Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Only one of the five foes, Binghamton, will meet the Irish for the first time.
Notre Dame and UMass are scheduled to square off for the fourth time in series history, but the first since a 2-1 win for the Minutewomen on March 6, 2004. The Irish hold a perfect 3-0 edge all-time over Fordham, most recently defeating the Rams by a 7-3 final on Feb. 28, 2014 at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Notre Dame and FIU will collide for the eighth time in series history, and the fifth time dating back to 2014 alone. The Irish own a 5-2 all-time mark against the Golden Panthers, including a 5-3 win in eight innings at last year’s Citrus Classic. The lone Notre Dame meeting with Robert Morris ended in an 18-0 Irish win on March 11, 1994.
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, men’s soccer and swimming and diving 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.