April 24, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at Northwestern
April 25, 2017
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(27-18 in 2017)
(20-23 in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekly Schedule
Tuesday, April 25
Notre Dame at Northwestern – 5 p.m. (ET)/Big Ten Network
Saturday, April 29 (Strikeout Cancer Orange Games)
Notre Dame vs. Arkansas – 1 p.m. (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Notre Dame vs. Arkansas – 3 p.m. (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Sunday, April 30
Notre Dame vs. Arkansas – Noon (ET)/ACC Network Extra
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A brief one-game road trip for the University of Notre Dame softball team sets the stage for the home stretch of the 2017 regular season. The Irish travel to Evanston, Illinois to face regional foe Northwestern on Tuesday at 5 p.m. (ET) at Drysdale Field. Coverage will be available on the Big Ten Network.
Irish Slap Hits
– Notre Dame has amassed a 1,173-512-3 (.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 walk-off single by Caitlyn Brooks in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Notre Dame to a 6-5 win over Western Michigan on April 19 at Melissa Cook Stadium. It was the 11th win earned by the Irish in the final inning of a game in 2017, and was the sixth walk-off victory to end a contest.
– The Irish have won their last 27 nonconference midweek games at Melissa Cook Stadium dating back to the 2013 season.
– Notre Dame established a pair of season-highs on April 12 against IUPUI, scoring 13 runs on 16 hits in six innings during a 13-4 win at Melissa Cook Stadium.
– Notre Dame is 3-3 in 2017 against foes from the Big Ten Conference. The Irish earned wins over then No. 11 Michigan (6-4 on Feb. 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina), Purdue (6-1 on March 4 in Kissimmee, Florida), and Michigan State (11-3 in five innings on March 22) thus far this season.
– Senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester successfully stole her 117th career base in the bottom of the second inning against IUPUI on April 12 to pass baseball great Steve Stanley (1999-2002) as the all-time Notre Dame softball/baseball leader in stolen bases (now at 122). Wester also has the most hits (306) and runs scored (216) in Irish softball history, with all three totals ranking among the top 10 of active players in NCAA Division I softball.
– 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.
ND Thrives In The Clutch
With the walk-off RBI single that lifted Notre Dame past Western Michigan on April 19, the Irish have now won 11 games as a result of their final plate appearance thus far in 2017.
Notre Dame has earned eight victories in the seventh inning or later after entering the frame either trailing or tied, including three bottom of the seventh walk-offs. The Irish have added three run-rule walk-offs in the bottom of fifth innings during home games.
The Irish opened the season with a win thanks to a bottom of the seventh wild pitch to defeat Weber State 2-1 on Feb. 10. Katie Marino struck for Notre Dame on Feb. 25, delivering a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-4 win over No. 4 Oklahoma. A fielder’s choice and error in the top of the eighth capped the Notre Dame tournament comebacks during a 5-3 win over FIU on March 4.
At the conclusion of a wild three-game conference series at Georgia Tech, Morgan Reed established a Notre Dame single-game record with eight RBI thanks to a grand slam in the top of the eighth in an 8-6 win over the Yellow Jackets on March 12. The opening Irish home game of 2017 against Michigan State (March 22) ended at 11-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to an RBI single from Madison Heide. Notre Dame’s homestand featured a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning that secured a 9-1 Irish win in game two against Virginia Tech on March 24.
Melissa Rochford, whose two-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning tied the aforementioned FIU contest, struck again in the opening game of a three-game series at Louisville on April 1. Rochford’s two-run single with two away in the top of the seventh vaulted Notre Dame to a 5-4 win over the Cardinals. Rochford followed up in the subsequent ACC series against North Carolina on April 8, singling in the bottom of the seventh frame for a 2-1 Notre Dame win.
Kimmy Sullivan continued her hot hitting at Melissa Cook Stadium on April 12, depositing a walk-off, three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 13-4 win over IUPUI. Reed returned with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning later in the week during game one of a series at NC State on April 14, with the big fly ultimately guiding Notre Dame over the Wolfpack 4-3.
Irish Offense In April
Notre Dame’s offense has found its stroke during the month of April, batting at a .323 clip during the first 15 games of the month. The Irish have scored 82 runs (5.47 runs per game) in that span, and have chipped in 18 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs. Notre Dame has showcased its speed on the basepaths as well, successfully stealing 20 of 21 attempted stolen bases since April 1.
Ali Wester leads all Notre Dame players with a .429 average in April, adding seven RBI, two stolen bases and 14 runs scored in 15 starts. Caitlyn Brooks has chipped in a .385 clip, four doubles, 13 RBI, a .519 slugging percentage and a .421 on-base percentage. Morgan Reed and Melissa Rochford are tied for the team RBI lead with 15 each, while Reed has scored a team-high 14 runs for the month.
Irish Against The Opposition
Northwestern leads its all-time series with Notre Dame 12-9, dating back to the first meeting between the teams in 1995. The Irish have claimed three of the last five games against the Wildcats since the 2008 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.
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.