March 9, 2018
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at NC State
March 10-11, 2018
Dail Softball Stadium
Raleigh, North Carolina
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(12-7 in 2018)
NC State Wolfpack
(13-8 in 2018)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule
Saturday, March 10
Notre Dame at NC State – 1 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame at NC State – 3 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, March 11
Notre Dame at NC State – Noon (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Conference play begins for the University of Notre Dame softball team this weekend, as the Irish travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to open Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play against NC State. The three-game series is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday on ACC Network Extra at Dail Softball Stadium.
Notre Dame (12-7) opens its fifth season in the ACC, returning to NC State (13-8) for the second straight season. The Irish swept a three-game conference slate from the Wolfpack last April in Raleigh.
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 Perfect At Disney
Notre Dame capped a perfect 5-0 sweep at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with an emphatic final game performance. Four RBI from Cait Brooks and a combined three-hitter in the circle was the difference in a 10-0 Irish victory in five innings over Robert Morris on March 4 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Notre Dame outscored the opposition 43-12 during the weekend, batting .412 with 56 hits as a club. Six Notre Dame hitters finished the tournament batting .400 or above, with Ali Wester leading all players with 10 hits and seven runs scored. Cait Brooks and Morgan Reed tied for the team lead with six RBI each.
The Irish pitching staff posted a combined 1.93 ERA in 29 innings, limiting opponents to just 18 hits. Opposing hitters batted .175 for the duration of the tournament.
Dating back to the 2011 season, Notre Dame has posted a 32-4 (.889) combined record at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Wester Named ACC Co-POTW
Ali Wester rode an electric performance at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic last weekend to a share of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week honors, the conference office announced on Tuesday. Wester batted a team-high .588 with 10 hits, four RBI, three stolen bases and seven runs scored despite three games ending by run-rule after five innings.
The ACC citation for Wester was the first weekly award earned by a Notre Dame player in 2018. It also marked the first time that Wester, who has been named all-ACC in each of her two full seasons with the Irish, was tabbed as the league’s top weekly player. Notre Dame has now claimed nine ACC Player of the Week honors in softball since joining the conference in 2014.
Irish Roll Into Conference Play
On the way to this weekend’s opening ACC series of 2018 for Notre Dame, the Irish remain one of the hottest teams in the conference.
Notre Dame has won six straight games dating back to a 7-1 decision against St. John’s on Feb. 24. The Irish have outscored the opposition by a cumulative 50-13 run count during that span, outhitting opponents by an impressive 66-21 margin. Morgan Reed leads all Notre Dame players with eight runs scored over the past six wins, while Ali Wester has notched 11 hits, Cait Brooks has recorded a team-high seven RBI and Abby Sweet has stolen five bases during the streak.
The Notre Dame pitching staff has posted a 1.56 ERA during the win surge, striking out 33 batters in 36 innings. Alexis Holloway has been lights out for the Irish in her last five appearances (four starts), posting a 5-0 record with a 0.55 ERA, walking 10 and striking out 26 in 25.2 innings. Katie Beriont is 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA in her last three appearances (one start), notching six strikeouts in 8.0 innings pitched.
Irish Finish Tourney Slate Strong
Notre Dame’s six-game winning streak put the bow on a 12-7 tournament schedule to open the 2018 season. The Irish appeared in four of the top tournaments in the country during February and the first week of March; Arizona State’s Kajikawa Classic, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in California and the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Florida.
All told, eight of Notre Dame’s first 19 opponents (all either road or neutral matchups) were ranked squads, a number of ranked foes that only No. 6 Oregon can match in the current top-10 teams of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. The Irish own three wins over top-20 opponents thus far this season, sweeping No. 14 Minnesota and adding a victory against No. 20/19 Michigan.
Notre Dame enters the first weekend of ACC play as the conference leader in batting average, sitting at a team clip of .323 as of March 6. The Irish also pace the conference with a .394 on-base percentage, and rank second with 159 hits despite league leader Virginia (161 hits) having three games in hand after already playing 22 contests.
Ali Wester ranks second in the ACC with a .421 batting average, while Abby Sweet sits fourth in the conference with a .397 clip. Sweet (23 hits, fourth) and Morgan Reed (21 hits, seventh) rank among the top 10 in the ACC in base knocks.
Irish Against The ACC
Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, Notre Dame is a combined 175-67 (.723) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against the Opposition
Notre Dame returns to Raleigh to face NC State for the second straight season, after first meeting the Wolfpack in ACC play at Dail Softball Stadium in 2015. The Irish are no strangers to the stadium, reaching the final game at the ACC Championship (2016) and competing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (2017) at Dail Softball Stadium. Notre Dame leads the all-time series between the teams 6-5, after sweeping NC State 4-3, 5-0 and 5-2 last April in Raleigh.
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.