June 1, 2018
By Megan Golden
Prior to the University of Notre Dame baseball team’s first game of the 2018 season, head coach Mik Aoki presented the team with a wooden shillelagh, which he ordered and had shipped from Ireland to South Bend. The shillelagh, Aoki said, was meant to be a symbol for the team to be its best each day.
That weekend, the Irish took the three-game series at LSU, where Irish right-hander Jack Sheehan decided he would #PasstheShillelagh to every player who scored in the game. Within just three games, Notre Dame’s offense had handed off the hardware 27 times.
The hot start was just a small sample of an Irish offense that ultimately produced its largest output since 2015, closing the regular season with the fifth-best team average (.274) in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
While the shillelagh was literally passed around the dugout to celebrate runs scored, the Irish figuratively passed the shillelagh to build camaraderie and promote team play. Â
Following the conclusion of the 2018 season, Notre Dame lost four senior impact players who led the team in wins on the mound and combined to hit .288 this past season. Off the field, the Class of 2018 demonstrated grit, determination and dedication to academics and to the community.
Utilizing a growth mindset, Notre Dame now turns its attention to 14 rising sophomores, who will be tasked with building off this year’s success in 2019. The class, which includes student-athletes from 11 states, combined to bat .241 in its debut season.
The graduating class will be the first to share their excitement about the future of the program. As the seniors pack their bags and go their separate ways – to Bank of America and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee to name a few – they took one last opportunity to #PasstheShillelagh to next year’s returning players.
“Be sure to work hard and take advantage of every opportunity, but also make sure to enjoy the experiences as they come. Notre Dame is a special place, and being able to represent such a great university on the field is an incredible gift.”
-Designated Hitter Alex Kerschner
“Consistency. Show up to the field and to the classroom, determined to do your job every day. It doesn’t matter if you feel 100 percent or 50 percent, starting or on the bench, healthy or hurt, meeting success or struggling; it is critical to maintain the same, consistent attitude, and keep pushing forward.”
-Left-hander Scott Tully
“We had a lot of positive contributions from a lot of young players, and it’s important that we keep building upon the culture that we established this year.”
-Outfielder Jake Johnson
“I’m excited to see our young core build on the progress they made over this past year and carry on the tradition of Notre Dame baseball for years to come.”
-Right-hander Charlie Vorsheck
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame baseball and women’s soccer programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.