May 15, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team makes its 15th straight appearance in the NCAA Championship this weekend when it travels to the Lexington Regional, hosted by the University of Kentucky. The Irish, in their inaugural trip to the Kentucky campus, will play their first-ever game inside John Cropp Stadium Friday at 5 p.m. against Virginia Tech on ESPN3.
Notre Dame clinched the 18th NCAA Championship berth in program history Sunday night, its 10th all-time at-large invitation to the national tournament, on the strength of a 43-13 record and its seventh BIG EAST Conference regular season championship in 2013.
The Irish were assigned to a non-Big Ten Conference regional site for just the third time in NCAA play, joining the 2005 (Notre Dame hosted at Ivy Field) and 2012 (Tucson, Ariz.) seasons as the only other occurrences.
Notre Dame is 26-34 (.433) all-time in the NCAA Championship, and is in search of the first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals in school history. Head coach Deanna Gumpf has compiled an 18-22 (.450) record in 11 prior NCAA Championship appearances, leading the Irish to the final day of regional competition on five occasions.
Live video from all games at the Lexington Regional will be available on ESPN3, with Cara Capuano and Leah O’Brien-Amico calling the action.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(43-13, 15th consecutive NCAA Championship berth)
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame earned its 15th consecutive berth to the NCAA Championship last Sunday after a runner-up finish at the BIG EAST Conference Championship in Tampa, Fla.
– The Irish are making their first-ever appearance in Lexington, Ky.
– Notre Dame claimed 13 BIG EAST regular season championships in 18 seasons as a conference member. Head coach Deanna Gumpf led the Irish to seven regular season titles in the last 12 seasons.
– Laura Winter was named BIG EAST Player of the Year May 8 at the conference’s annual awards banquet. Winter, the first pitcher in Notre Dame history to earn the league’s top individual honor, led all BIG EAST players with 14 wins in the circle, nine home runs, 37 RBI and a .922 slugging percentage in 22 conference starts.
– USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 Finalist Emilee Koerner led the BIG EAST Conference during the regular season with a .492 average in conference play. Koerner also had the league’s most doubles (8) and runs scored (26) during Notre Dame’s 19-3 league slate.
– Laura Winter and Emilee Koerner were each named to the all-BIG EAST first team, while Amy Buntin earned second team honors at the conference’s annual awards banquet May 8. Kelsey Thornton, Jenna Simon, Cassidy Whidden and Micaela Arizmendi were each third team choices. Irish players claimed a total of 122 all-league accolades during the program’s 18 seasons as a BIG EAST member. Notre Dame also earned BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors for the seventh time in program history.
– Head coach Deanna Gumpf became the third softball/baseball coach (joining Jake Kline and Paul Mainieri) to win 500 games at Notre Dame after an 11-1 victory over Connecticut in game two of an April 23 doubleheader.
– With its 8-2 game one win April 3 at Georgetown, Notre Dame won the 1,000th game in program history. In 25 seasons of competition, the Irish are a combined 1,020-451-3 (.692).
What A Great Run
Notre Dame completed its run as one of the most successful regular season teams in BIG EAST history May 4-5 against No. 9 Louisville, winning its 296th and 297th regular season conference games since joining the league in 1996. The win total was against just 53 losses in that span, a .849 winning percentage.
Along with the Irish clinching the 13th BIG EAST regular season championship in program history, the team also ensured its 15th 40-win season in 25 years of competition. In fact, head coach Deanna Gumpf has led Notre Dame to 40 or more victories in nine of her 12 seasons at the helm of the Irish, including each of the past five campaigns.
Winter Takes Home BIG EAST POY
The standout season for Notre Dame ace Laura Winter continues to roll along. The Irish junior, who became the first player in program history to win each (NFCA/Louisville Slugger-USA Softball) of the universally recognized national player of the week awards earlier this season, was named BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year May 8.
Winter was a conference-best 14-2 in 17 league appearances in the circle, tossing complete games on 12 occasions. The 6-1 right-hander walked only four batters in 96.1 innings pitched.
The Notre Dame pitcher/first baseman also batted .453 with a BIG EAST-high nine home runs, 37 RBI, 59 total bases and a .922 slugging percentage.
Winter became the eighth different Irish player to win BIG EAST Player of the Year, giving Notre Dame 10 combined winners of the award during the program’s 18 seasons as a conference member.
Emi Among National Top 10 Players
Irish outfielder Emilee Koerner became the first player in Notre Dame history to be tabbed as a top 10 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award May 8. The Irish sophomore was one of three underclassmen, along with Oklahoma sophomore infielder Lauren Chamberlain and Michigan freshman infielder Sierra Romero, to make the final 10 national player of the year list.
Koerner led all BIG EAST players, and all but two counterparts nationally, with a .479 batting average in 53 regular season starts. She also posted conference season-highs with 78 hits, 21 doubles, a .847 slugging percentage and a .545 on-base percentage.
Koerner reached base safely in each of the season’s first 29 games, and wound up on base in an impressive 48 of 53 regular season contests.
`Nasty As She Wants To Be’ Against BE
Notre Dame shortstop Chloe Saganowich batted a cumulative .345 with four doubles, two home runs, and 10 RBI in helping pace the Irish to a 21-4 record in 2013 against BIG EAST opponents. Saganowich has batted more than 100 points higher against league opposition than in non-conference play (.227 average in 31 non-conference games).
The Treasure Island, Fla. native led all Notre Dame players with a .556 average (5-for-9), a home run and two RBI during the BIG EAST Championship, earning all-tournament team honors for the first time in her career.
How The Irish Stack Up Nationally
Notre Dame enters the NCAA Championship ranked in the top 50 of eight different statistical categories in NCAA Division I softball.
The Irish have the 15th-best winning percentage nationally after posting a 43-13 (.768) pre-tournament record. The Irish won 17 of their final 20 games to qualify for the NCAA Championship for the 15th consecutive season (18th time overall).
On the strength of a BIG EAST-low 41 errors on more than 1,500 chances in the field, Notre Dame checks in at No. 18 with a .973 fielding percentage. The Irish error total is also among the 20 lowest in the NCAA.
The squad ranks 21st in doubles per game (1.48) and 22nd in team batting average (.315) through 56 games. Notre Dame stands in second place in the BIG EAST in each category behind Louisville.
Notre Dame is also ranked 27th in scoring (5.82 runs per game) and 31st in home runs per game (1.05) and team ERA (2.14).
ND An NCAA Regular
Notre Dame has become a staple of the NCAA Championship during the past 20 seasons, reaching the national tournament 18 times, including 15 straight appearances. The Irish are 26-34 (.433) in NCAA Championship competition during that span.
Despite the fact that the team has not advanced to an NCAA Super Regional in its history, Notre Dame has reached the final day of regional play on seven different occasions.
The Irish are a combined 12-5 (.706) against the three opposing teams in the Lexington Regional, with 14 of the games being played against former BIG EAST rival and future ACC foe Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame is 11-3 all-time against the Hokies, and owns a slim 5-3 edge in games played at a neutral site. The Irish and Virginia Tech have never met in the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame’s 8-2 victory over Georgetown in game one April 3 was the 1,000th win in program history. The Irish needed only 1,449 games to reach the milestone, and have a .692 all-time winning percentage (1,020-451-3).
Head coaches Brian Boulac (1989-92, 135-90-2), Liz Miller (1993-2001, 377-156) and Deanna Gumpf (2002-present, 508-205-1) have been credited with all 1,020 team wins. Notre Dame has averaged over 40 wins per season (40.80) during its 25-year history.
#500 For Gumpf
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf became the first Notre Dame softball head coach to record 500 career victories (508-205-1, .712) with a two-game sweep of Connecticut April 23.
Gumpf’s squads have averaged more than 42 wins per season during her 12-year tenure at the helm of the Irish, and won seven BIG EAST regular season and four conference tournament championships during that span.