Feb. 22, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic
Feb. 23-25, 2017
Big League Dreams Sports Complex
Cathedral City, California
#RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(4-5 in 2017)
#RV Texas Longhorns
(7-3 in 2017)
#20/22 Missouri Tigers
(5-2 in 2017)
#21/19 Arizona State Sun Devils
(9-1 in 2017)
#11/12 Georgia Bulldogs
(12-0 in 2017)
#4/5 Oklahoma Sooners
(6-2 in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule
Thursday, Feb. 23
Notre Dame vs. No. RV Texas (Yankee) – 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame vs. No. 20/22 Missouri (Yankee) – 9 p.m. (ET)
Friday, Feb. 24
Notre Dame vs. No. 21/19 Arizona State (Fenway) – 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame vs. No. 11/12 Georgia (Fenway) – 6 p.m. (ET)
Saturday, Feb. 25
Notre Dame vs. No. 4/5 Oklahoma (Wrigley) – 1 p.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the fourth straight season, the University of Notre Dame softball team makes its return to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Irish will face five teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 during their three-day stay at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in Cathedral City, California.
Irish Slap Hits
– Notre Dame has amassed a 1,150-499-3 (.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 competed in its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge last weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Irish faced No. 11/10 Michigan twice and No. 13 Minnesota twice during the collision between the conferences, at the only site to feature two top 25 teams. The ACC won the competition 19-12.
– Notre Dame opened the second day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with a 6-4 win over No. 11/10 Michigan. It was the first Irish win against the Wolverines since May 21, 1999 (1-0) in an NCAA Ann Arbor Regional elimination game at Alumni Field.
– Notre Dame has played a total of five national top 15 opponents in its first nine games of 2017, the most among any team in the ACC. The Irish are also the only team in the conference to score a win over a top 10 foe (6-4 over Michigan on Feb. 18) thus far this season. The Irish will face four more top 25 foes (No. 4/5 Oklahoma, No. 11/12 Georgia, No. 20/22 Missouri and No. 21/19 Arizona State) at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
– Notre Dame now has 18 wins over ranked foes since 2013, including nine wins over the top 10.
– Junior infielder Morgan Reed is ranked second in the ACC with a .520 batting average through nine games, and is tied for the conference lead with two triples against the hardest schedule any team has faced in the league in 2017.
– 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.
Contributing To The ACC Cause
Notre Dame earned its first victory in ACC/Big Ten Challenge competition last weekend against No. 11/10 Michigan, downing the Wolverines 6-4 at NC State’s Dail Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was the only victory over a ranked opponent for any team in either conference that took part in the tournament field.
Notre Dame’s triumph was one of 19 wins for the ACC in the three-day event, giving the conference a 19-12 overall margin of victory to square the annual event at 1-1 between the leagues.
Exorcising Demons Against UM
Notre Dame’s 6-4 win over No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18 was not only the first victory for the Irish ever in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, it was also the first triumph over the Wolverines in 18 years.
Prior to last weekend’s meeting, the last Notre Dame win in the series was a 1-0 shutout of top-seeded Michigan that knocked the Wolverines out of the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional in May of 1999. Michigan has been ranked in the national top 15 in 15 of the last 16 matchups between the teams since 1999, including nine games in NCAA tournament play.
Notre Dame is believed to be just the 17th nonconference opponent to defeat Michigan five or more times during the 33-year career of Wolverine head coach Carol Hutchins. Hutchins, the winningest coach in the history of collegiate softball, has lost a mere 470 of the 1,941 games (14.2 losses per season) she has coached at Michigan since 1985.
Irish Against The Top 25 Since ’13
Following last weekend’s win over No. 11/10 Michigan, Notre Dame now has 18 wins over ranked opponents since 2013, including nine wins over teams slotted in one of the national top 10 polls.
Notre Dame has faced five national top 15 opponents in its first nine games of 2017, the most by any team in the ACC. The Irish are also the only team in the conference to score a win over a top 10 foe thus far this season.
The Irish will face four more top 25 teams (No. 4/5 Oklahoma, No. 11/12 Georgia, No. 20/22 Missouri and No. 21/19 Arizona State) at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic this weekend.
Recent Success At The MNCC
Since 2014, Notre Dame has compiled a 12-4 (.750) record at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Irish returned to the tournament during the current stretch after being absent from the field since 2007.
Of the 12 Irish wins over the last three seasons in Cathedral City, three have been over teams ranked in the national top 25 (two in the top 10).
K. Wester Joins Century Steals Club
During the top of the first inning of the 6-4 Irish win over No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18, senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester officially swiped her 100th career base to join elite Notre Dame company.
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.
Reed Near The Top Of The ACC
Junior infielder Morgan Reed enters the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic ranked second in the ACC with a .520 batting average over her first nine games of 2017. Reed has added two doubles, two triples, five RBI and five runs scored over her first nine games.
A two-time NFCA all-region and all-ACC selection, Reed has the longest active hit streak among Notre Dame players (13 games) dating back to last season.
Brooks’ Big Day Against UM
Sophomore pitcher/infielder Caitlyn Brooks enjoyed a huge offensive day at the plate in the win over No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18, smashing two home runs and driving in five in the 6-4 Notre Dame victory. Brooks’ three-run shot in the top of the first and two-run blast in the top of the fifth innings proved to be the difference on the offensive end for the Irish.
Along with her achievements at the dish, Brooks also started the game in the circle and hurled three innings of three-hit softball in her first career pitching start against a top 10 team.
The Steady Play Of Ali Wester
Moving into the leadoff slot in the lineup for the first time in her Notre Dame career, sophomore outfielder/infielder Ali Wester delivered during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Wester batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double and two runs scored out of the one-hole against No. 11/10 Michigan and No. 13 Minnesota last weekend.
Through nine starts in 2017, Wester ranks fourth in the ACC with 14 hits, and checks in seventh in batting average with a .438 clip.
Marino Smashes First ND Homer
In the seventh inning of Notre Dame’s matchup against No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 19, freshman infielder Katie Marino drilled the first home run of her Irish career deep and out of NC State’s Dail Stadium.
Marino, the first Notre Dame player to hit an inaugural career home run thus far this season, rocked a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left center to lead off the top of the seventh.
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.