March 8, 2000
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Shutout Queens: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish did not allow a run in four tournament games en route to a perfect 4-0 record and the State Line Classic championship title.
The State Line Classic was the second early season tournament title for the team in as many years, after earning their first one in the Liz Miller era at the 1999 Gladstone’s Tournament at South Florida.
State Line Honors: Four Notre Dame players earned all-tournament honors including MVP sophomore pitcher Michelle Moschel (Naples, Fla.), who allowed just three hits and no runs with 14 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. Other honorees included freshman third baseman Andria Bledsoe (.546, 1 RBI), sophomore catcher Jarrah Myers (.400, 3 runs, 4 RBI) and junior shortstop/pitcher Melanie Alkire (.417 avg, 4 RBI., 1-0 (no-hitter)). It was the second such honor of the year for Myers, who also was named to the all-tournament team at the Morning News Invitational.
Alkire No-Hits Wildcats: In her second start of the year, junior pitcher Melanie Alkire threw her first career solo no-hitter in the team’s 8-0 romp over Kentucky. Alkire, who pitched a combined no-hitter with former teammate Angela Bessolo last season versus Tennessee-Martin, walked three batters while striking out four in five innings (eight-run rule). The no-hitter is the 24th in program history.
Tourney Notes: Notre Dame’s game with Tennessee was not only the opening game of the fourth annual State Line Classic, but also was the first at the City of Bristol’s Multi-Purpose Complex. A number of city officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony … game-winning RBI went to Andria Bledsoe (Virginia Tech), Andrea Loman (Kentucky) and Melanie Alkire (Virginia Tech) …. game winning runs went to Alexis Madrid (Tennessee), Jarrah Myers (Virginia Tech) and Jennifer Kreich (Kentucky, Virginia Tech) … the Notre Dame pitching staff allowed no runs on eight hits with 32 strikeouts and 10 walks in the four tournament games … for the second time this season, freshman Andria Bledsoe was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 in the team’s win over Tennessee.
Staying Level: The Notre Dame softball team maintained its positioning in the USA Today/NFCA poll, receiving the 31st-most votes for the second straight week, with 21 in all. Last week, the Irish received 26 votes, while the week prior the Irish got 13 votes after beginning the season with only one in the preseason poll.
Action – Scouting the Field: The Irish will embark on a nine-day trip out West for Spring Break, flying out to San Diego, Friday, March 10, for a doubleheader Sunday with San Diego State, a single game against Loyola Marymount on Tuesday and the Kia Classic, Wednesda through Sunday. Notre Dame, which will put its seven-game win streak on the line when it faces the Aztecs, are in for a tough road at the Kia Classic as all but one of the 16 teams are receiving votes in the latest poll (3/8/00). The tournament field includes a number of the nation’s best, including top 10 teams: #1 Washington, #2 Arizona, #4 Arizona State, #5 Oklahoma, #7 Fresno State and #10 Oregon State.
The Aztecs: Notre Dame and San Diego State face each other for the first time since 1995, when the Irish swept a pair of games in San Diego. This season, the Aztecs are 8-13 overall with games against Cal State Fullerton and a doubleheader versus Southern Utah still to play before the Sunday games.
Under head coach Kathy Van Wyk, SDSU is led by sophomore outfielder Kellie Nordhagen, who is hitting .448 with 20 runs scored. On the mound, four Aztec pitchers have seen starting roles, including Olivia Catron, who is 3-3 with a 1.58 earned-run average.
The Notre Dame-San Diego State series will be a reunion of sorts for former high school teammates, Irish freshman Andrea Loman and Aztec freshman Olivia Catron, who both attended Riverside Poly High School in Riverside, Calif. Notre Dame assistant coach Deanna Gumpf and SDSU assistant Amy Miner also will reunite Sunday. Gumpf coached Miner at Long Beach State from 1996-97.
The Lions: Loyola Marymount, currently 8-7, will be looking to grab its first win in five tries from the Irish. The Lions, under head coach Gary Farrin, are led by junior infielder Kim Bisset, who is leading the team with a .359 batting average. Pitchers Corianne Rogalsky (4-4) and Jennifer Heliotes (4-3) are the team’s starters on the mound. Rogalsky, a transfer from Tennessee-Chattanooga, picked up her first collegiate save in 1999 against the Irish when Chattanooga beat Notre Dame 4-3.
LMU and Notre Dame have already played two common opponents this season in Utah and Southern Utah at the UNLV Softball Classic. The Lions went 1-1 against the two Utah schools, defeating the Thunderbirds, 6-1, but dropping the game to the Utes, 1-6. The Irish won both games, defeating Southern Utah 8-0 and Utah 2-1.
The Matadors: Playing some of the top teams in the nation already this season, the CSU Northridge Matadors are 8-10 on the season with notable wins over Oregon State (7-2), Hofstra (5-3), Louisiana-Lafayette (1-0) and Utah (2-0).
Under head coach Janet Sherman, infielder Veronica Lopez leads the team’s starters in batting average with a .245 mark including four runs scored and five RBI. Pitchers Sarah Farnworth, Jessica Crieth and Summer Richardson have combined for a team ERA of 1.92, while Farnworth has started 13 of the team’s games.
The Sun Devils: The fourth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils are off to a 19-3 start with wins over Nebraska, South Carolina, CSU Fullerton, Alabama, Oklahoma State and DePaul.
Under head coach Linda Wells, the Sun Devils advanced to last year’s College World Series, advancing out of the same regional as the Irish. Sophomore Nichole Thompson has been a force at the plate with a .443 batting average, as has Erica Beach with her .429 average and team-leading 30 RBI and six home runs. On the mound, Beach and teammate Kristen Voak have similar earned-run averages, while Voak has limited opponents to a .147 batting average.
The Irish, who will be looking for their first win against the Sun Devils, will once again see some familiar faces when the two teams collide. Beach is a former teammate of Irish freshman Andria Bledsoe, while Thompson and Notre Dame junior Lizzy Lemire were high school teammates at Woodbrige in Irvine, Calif.
The Longhorns: In 26 games this season, Texas has seen its share of ups and downs with a 12-13-1 record in 2000. The Longhorns have posted wins over ranked teams including Hawai’i (4-1) and Long Beach State (6-5), but have fallen to unranked foes Texas-San Antonio, Texas Tech and Southwest Texas.
Head coach Connie Clark’s top hitters so far this season have been freshman Lindsay Gardner (.391 average) and senior Keely Franks (.309). Pitching wise, Charla Moore (9-6) and Carmen Martinez (3-6) have started all the Longhorns’ games, recording six shutouts.
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 five – two by Alkire (Southern Utah, Kentucky) and sophomore Jarrah Myers (Kentucky, Virginia) and one by freshman Andrea Loman in the UC Santa Barbara game.
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.
Irish Sign Pitcher, Outfielder for Class of 2004: Notre Dame head softball coach Liz Miller announced the signings November 17, 1999, of two high school seniors to national letters of intent. Pitcher Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) and outfielder Nicole deFau (Southington, Conn.) will make up Notre Dame’s class of 2004.
Schmidt, one of the top pitchers in the state of Texas for the past two years, was a first team All-American in 1999 and is a two-time all-state selection. A senior at North Shore Senior High School, Schmidt had a 19-1 record with 229 strikeouts, only two walks and a 0.05 earned-run average as a junior.
deFau is a two time all-state honoree from Southington High School. The outfielder led Southington to the state championship her freshman and junior seasons, while the team was the state runners-up in 1998.
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.
2000 BIG EAST Preseason Awards/Poll
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame
PRESEASON PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Jennifer Sharron, Notre Dame
|2000 Softball Preseason Coaches Poll||2000 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team|
|1. Notre Dame (8)||64||P||Mary Dietz, Boston College|
|2. Boston College (1)||53||P||*Jennifer Sharron, ND|
|3. Connecticut||47||C||Summer Jarratt, BC|
|4. Seton Hall||46||IF||Melanie Alkire, ND|
|5. Villanova||37||IF||Vicki Lamb, Seton Hall|
|6. Rutgers||31||IF||Jackie Pasquerella, Villanova|
|7. Providence||18||IF||Jessica Yanosy, Connecticut|
|8. Pittsburgh||17||OF||Mia Brickhouse, Villanova|
|9. St. John’s||11||OF||Lizzy Lemire, ND|
|OF||Jennifer Kriech, ND|
|*=unanmious selection||U||Lauren Fischetti, Boston Coll.|
|DP||Megan Biddle, Connecticut|
Head Coach Liz Miller: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller begins her eighth season at Notre Dame (287-139) and her 25th season overall (828-281). Miller 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.