Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Irish Return Home, Host Eastern Michigan Wednesday

March 29, 2000

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Runners-Up Again: Following a mid-week doubleheader split with Purdue at home, the Notre Dame softball team traveled to Purdue for the Boilermaker Invitational. The Irish went 3-1 in the six-team tournament, finishing second overall. The 13th-ranked Michigan Wolverines finished with a perfect 4-0 record, including a 5-1 win against Notre Dame.

So far this season, the team has finished tied for second at the UNLV Softball Classic, third at the Morning News Invitational (Arkansas), first at the City of Bristol State Line Classic, tied for third at the Kia Classic and second last weekend.

Tourney Honors: Two Notre Dame softball earned all-tournament honors at last weekend’s Purdue tournament. Junior Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) earned her second such honor of the year, while sophomore Jennifer Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.) is a first time all-tournament honoree in 2000.

Alkire finished the tournament with a .571 batting average and a 2-0 record on the mound. She also tallied three runs scored, four doubles, a home run and eight RBI. Kriech hit .417 with four runs scored, a double and three RBI. One of Kriech’s RBI was the game-winner in the team’s 4-0 victory over Purdue.

2000 Boilermaker Invitational – – West Lafayette, Ind.

Final Standings All-Tournament Team
1. Michigan 4-0 Melanie Alkire, Jennifer Kriech – Notre Dame
2. Notre Dame 3-1 Skeeter Nixon, Jessica Jones – Purdue
3. Bradley 3-1 Crystal Inman – Purdue
4. Purdue 2-2 Christin Evans, Gina Calderone – Bradley
5. Kent State 0-4 Grete Hornstrom, Jamie Kraus – Kent
6. Toledo 0-4 Stephanie Volpe, Marie Barba – Michigan
MVP – Melinda Moulden – Michigan

Alkire Again: For the second time this season, Notre Dame softball player Melanie Alkire has been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week for her strong performances in Notre Dame’s six games last week. Alkire, who received the same honor March 13, shares the award with Seton Hall’s Vickie Lamb.

Alkire hit .450 (9-for-20) last week, including three runs scored, five doubles and 11 RBI, while going a perfect 2-0 on the mound to move her overall pitching record to 6-0 in 2000. The junior shortstop/pitcher hit .571 in four games to lead Notre Dame to a second-place finish at the Boilermaker Invitational in West Lafayette, Ind., earning all-tournament honors for the second time this season (the first being at the State Line Classic).

We’re In: After making its first appearance in the top-25 rankings since 1997 last week, the Notre Dame softball team moved up a slot to 21st (124 votes) in this week’s USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I poll released Wednesday. The Irish received only 19 votes two weeks ago (27th-most), after grabbing the 31st-most votes two weeks in a row. Notre Dame received only one vote in the preseason poll.

To Be The Best: At 22-8, the Notre Dame softball team has its best record ever in the program’s 12-year history. The next best is the 1995 team’s 21-9 record.

Miller’s 300th: After Wednesday’s scheduled doubleheader against Eastern Michigan was changed to a single game, Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller can win her 300th game at Notre Dame this Friday against BIG EAST Conference foe Connecticut. Miller is in her eighth season at Notre Dame (298-143) and her 25th season overall (839-285). She has directed the Irish to three BIG EAST South Division titles from 1996-98, while the team went undefeated in capturing both the BIG EAST regular season and conference championships in 1999.

Before being hired at Notre Dame, Miller was the head softball coach at Lake Michigan College where she amassed a 541-142 record in 17 seasons.

Action – Scouting the Field: The Irish plays host to the first of four straight home dates, beginning Wednesday with Eastern Michigan. Notre Dame opens BIG EAST Conference play against rival Connecticut on Friday, March 31, at 4 p.m. Providence then arrives in town for another BIG EAST doubleheader Sunday at 11 a.m. The Irish are set to play 21 of their final 31 regular season games at home.

The Eagles: Notre Dame starts the week off with a single game against the visiting Eastern Michigan Eagles. Last season, the two teams split the doubleheader in Ypsilanti, Mich., with Eastern Michigan grabbing the first game 5-4 and the Irish winning the second 8-2.

In 2000, Eastern Michigan is 11-10 overall with notable victories over BIG EAST Conference member Villanova (4-3), future Irish opponent Oakland and 1999 NCAA qualifier Florida Atlantic. Under head coach Nancy Oestrike, Eastern Michigan is led offensively by sophomores Christie Koester and Randi Wolfe, who are both batting .382. Middle infielder Paula Slingerland also contributes offensively with her .362 batting average and team-best 17 runs scored.

In the pitching circle, Eagle Aimee Hamilton has a 4-4 record with three solo shutouts and a 1.09 earned-run average to her credit. Corey Rickey, Stacie Wolf and Mala Otterbacher have also seen time on the mound.

Starting Out In First: The 2000 Notre Dame softball team has been chosen to finish first in the BIG EAST in a preseason poll of conference coaches released January 19. The Irish, with eight of the nine first-place votes, finished with 64 votes overall, 11 more than Boston College, which finished second in the voting with 53.

Notre Dame junior pitcher Jennifer Sharron was selected the BIG EAST preseason pitcher of the year, while junior shortstop Melanie Alkire was picked as the BIG EAST preseason player of the year. Sharron and Alkire were joined on the 12-member preseason all-BIG EAST Team by outfielders Lizzy Lemire and Jennifer Kriech, giving the Irish the most selections of any of the conference’s nine teams. Sharron also was the only unanimous selection.

The Huskies: Notre Dame swept all three games between the Irish and the Connecticut Huskies in 1999, including a 4-1 win in the first game of the BIG EAST Tournament. This season, the Huskies are 15-9, not including their doubleheader with Central Connecticut Wednesday.

Under head coach Karen Mullins, Connecticut is led by pitcher/designated player Megan Biddle, who is batting .305 with three home runs and 10 RBI. Utility player Mandy Simjian and 1999 all-BIG EAST first-team selection shortstop Jessica Yanosy are also offensive threats for the Huskies.

On the mound, Biddle is 5-6 with a 2.38 earned-run average and two shutouts. Freshman pitcher Barbara Cook, already a two-time BIG EAST pitcher of the week, is 10-2 with a 0.46 earned-run average and six solo shutouts. Cook also has 11 complete games in her 12 appearances and opponents are hitting just .147 against her.

Kas’ Connection: Notre Dame sophomore Kas Hoag (Wallingford, Conn.) will see some familiar faces when Connecticut comes to town. Hoag’s best friend and former high school teammate Mandy Simjian is a junior utility player for the Huskies.

The Friars: The Irish will be looking to keep their perfect 9-0 record against Providence when the two schools play Sunday. Notre Dame swept both regular season games in 1999 with a pair of shutouts in Providence.

The Friars, under head coach Dana Fulmer, are currently 9-11 with doubleheaders against Sacred Heart and Pittsburgh still yet to play. The Friars’ Gwyn Mangini and Kerri Jacklets are both batting over .300, while Robyn West, Heather Nathan and Melissa Peterson make up the team’s pitching rotation. West has started in eight games, earning a 4-5 record with one shutout and a 1.79 earned-run average.

Record Breakers: Thirty games into the season, the 2000 Irish have already broken or tied three school records.

  • Most RBI in a game (6) by Melanie Alkire vs. San Diego State (3/12) beating the previous record of five by seven people.
  • Most consecutive team shutouts (5) from March 4-12, beating the previous record of four.
  • Most home runs in a game (2) by Andrea Loman vs. Texas, tying the record set by four other people.

Going Yard: After hitting just four home runs as a team in 1998, Notre Dame erupted for a team record 29 in 1999, beating the previous school record of 17 set in 1994.

This season, the Irish return four of the six players who tallied home runs in 1999, led by junior Melanie Alkire who belted a school-record and career-best 10. So far in 2000, the team has already hit 16 by six different players.

Team Home Runs By Year

1989 Four by three players
1990 Seven by three players
1991 None
1992 Nine by three players
1993 Seven by three players
1994 17 by five players
1995 11 by four players
1996 Six by three players
1997 14 by four players
1998 Four by three players
1999 29 by six players
2000 16 by six players

The Big Switch: Beginning in 2000, Notre Dame will make a jump from the Mideast to the Northeast region for NCAA regional ranking consideration. The bi-weekly rankings are used as part of the championship tournament selection process and will make the team’s BIG EAST games (all of which are against schools in the Northeast region) even more important. The district rankings will be released the weeks of March 27, April 10, April 24 and May 8.

Div. I Poll


1. Washington (22) 36-3 670 1
2. Arizona (5) 35-2 652 2
3. UCLA 25-5 597 3
4. California 37-5 580 4
5. Arizona State 32-5 554 5
6. Fresno State 30-9 541 6 (tie)
7. Oklahoma 36-5 515 6 (tie)
8. Stanford 29-4 495 8
9. LSU 25-7 452 9
10. S. Mississippi 30-8 408 10
11. Oregon State 25-6-1 380 11
13. Michigan 22-6 351 13
14. Alabama 37-6 336 14
15. Iowa 18-7 270 16
16. Louisiana-Laf. 24-9 245 15
17. Long Beach State 24-11 208 19
18. South Carolina 24-13 187 17
19. Mississippi St. 27-9 179 21
20. Oklahoma State 24-11 133 18
21. Notre Dame 22-8 124 22
22. Illinois-Chicago 32-19 104 20
23. Oregon 23-11 100 23
24. East Carolina 35-4 72 RV
25. Florida Atlantic 36-13 48 RV

Others Receiving Votes: Texas A&M (40), North Carolina (32), Wisconsin (19), Florida (16), Nebraska (16), Missouri (14), Florida State (12), New Mexico (10).

Irish vs. Upcoming Opponents

Eastern Michigan: 1-1
1999: L, 4-5, W, 8-2
Connecticut: 10-5
1999: W, 7-3, W, 9-1, W, 4-1
1998: W, 4-0, W, 7-2, L, 1-4
1997: L, 2-3, W, 6-3, L, 1-2
1996: W, 6-5, W, 2-1, W, 6-3, L, 0-3, L, 0-1
1993: W, 3-2
Providence: 9-0
1999: W, 3-0, W, 1-0
1998: W, 3-0, W, 3-2
1997: W, 11-4, W, 9-1
1996: W, 3-2,W, 4-0, W, 4-0

BIG EAST Weekly Honors

BIG EAST Players of the Week

March 27 Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame
Vickie Lamb, Seton Hall
March 20 Megan Biddle, Connecticut
March 13 Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame

BIG EAST Pitchers of the Week

March 27 Barbara Cook, Connecticut
March 20 Michelle Moschel, Notre Dame
March 13 Barbara Cook, Connecticut

BIG EAST Rookies of the Week

March 27 Christina Shanko, Seton Hall
March 20 Andrea Loman, Notre Dame
Kelly Hulpa, Pittsburgh
March 13 Andria Bledsoe, Notre Dame