Nov. 14, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball program completed its early signing period on Thursday by adding a talented crop of players from the Class of 2019 to the future Fighting Irish ranks. Head coach Deanna Gumpf officially announced the signing of five prep student-athletes to National Letters of Intent, and each will attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2015.
Mary Kathryn “MK” Bonamy, a right-handed infielder from Birmingham, Alabama (Spain Park High School), Caitlyn Brooks, a right-handed pitcher from Burbank, California (Burbank High School), Madison “Maddie” McCracken, a right-handed catcher from Olathe, Kansas (Olathe North High School), Melissa Rochford, a right-handed infielder from Irvine, California (Mater Dei High School) and Ali Wester, a left-handed hitting, right-handed fielding outfielder from Huntington Beach, California (Edison High School), will be eligible to compete for the Irish during the 2016 season.
“The fun thing about this class is that they are going to be a group of players taking the place of four players who have started their whole careers at Notre Dame,” Gumpf said. “When you look at the expectations of this class, you are replacing a big departing senior group for us. You want them to come right in and make a difference, you want them on the playing field as difference makers, and you want them to have big personalities to fill the big shoes.
“Geography was not really a thought in the process here, but I love the fact that they are a little bit spread out from all over the country,” Gumpf added. “They are all impact players.”
Notre Dame returns 13 monogram winners from a 2014 squad that made its 16th consecutive appearance, and earned its 19th overall bid in 26 seasons of varsity competition, into the NCAA Championship, ultimately finishing the season with a 41-13 record after competing in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional. The Irish placed second in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular-season standings with a 16-5 league mark in their inaugural campaign in the conference, ultimately reaching the final game of May’s ACC Championship tournament in College Park, Md. Notre Dame also surpassed the 40-win plateau for the 16th time in its history, a watermark the Irish have attained in 10 of the last 13 seasons since Gumpf became the program’s head coach in 2002.
Team records set by the 2014 Notre Dame team included the highest batting average (.357) and most doubles (107, 1.98 doubles per game) in a single season in program history, figures that also led all Division I teams in the NCAA. The Irish, who also had a team-best 533 hits and a .419 on-base percentage, also finished second nationally with a .552 slugging percentage and were seventh in scoring after tallying 6.69 runs per game. Notre Dame was ranked among the national top 25 teams over the final 14 weeks of 2014, tying a program record set by the 2001 Irish team (54-7) for consecutive weeks appearing in the national polls during a single season.
A total of three Notre Dame players received 2014 NFCA All-America citations, with Micaela Arizmendi and Karley Wester copping second team accolades and Emilee Koerner being named as a third team All-American. The three Notre Dame All-America selections were tied for the most among all NFCA Division I members last season with College World Series participant Oregon, NCAA Super Regional qualifier Washington and fellow NCAA Regional competitor Auburn.
“We talk about looking for a `Notre Dame’ kind of kid,” Gumpf said. “I think this class is five Notre Dame kids who understand what Notre Dame is all about, who accept the challenge of being at Notre Dame and who want to be difference makers on and off the field. I believe this class completely understands everything that is expected for our student-athletes, who are held to a higher standard, and they appreciate that. They accept that challenge.”
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.
Mary Kathryn “MK” Bonamy – IF – 5-9 – R / R – Spain Park – Birmingham, Ala.
PREP AND PERSONAL: Six-time letterwinner at Spain Park High School … led Spain Park to a 49-17 record and a fifth place finish at the 6A level in Alabama as a junior, batting .421 with 13 doubles, 19 home runs, 65 RBI, a .981 slugging percentage and 42 runs scored … 2014 NFCA all-South Region first team selection, as well as an NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete … 2014 AHSAA “Super 8”, all-state and all-tournament team choice … Shelby County Softball Player of the Year … tabbed as Spain Park’s team most valuable player and offensive player of the year following junior season … all-Over The Mountain Journal team selection as a sophomore and junior, earning Over The Mountain Player of the Year recognition in 2014 … competes on the club circuit for New Jersey Intensity-KOD under head coach Kevin O’Donnell, father of former Irish starting pitcher Brittany O’Donnell … TPC and USSSA tournament all-star choice … qualified for the PGF National 18 competition … member of the National Honor Society and Math Honor Society … 2014 Finley Character Award … will join current freshman Morgan Reed as just the second Alabama player in the history of the Notre Dame softball program … daughter of David and Jennifer Bonamy … has one brother, John David … has one sister, Josie … father, David, was a letterwinner in football at the University of Alabama.
Coach Gumpf on MK Bonamy: “MK brings power to the game, in all facets of the game. She’s an exciting ballplayer to watch because in one crack of the bat, she’s a game changer. She has the ability to change the outcome of the game and she does it often. MK is one of the best hitters in the country, and she expects greatness from herself. She also comes from an amazing family that understands what’s going on at Notre Dame.”
Caitlyn Brooks – RHP – 5-6 – R / R – Burbank – Burbank, Calif.
PREP AND PERSONAL: Four-year letterwinner at Burbank High School … posted a 24-4 record and a 1.18 ERA as a junior, striking out 258 batters to earn 2014 NFCA All-America third team honors … batted .513 with five home runs on offense during junior campaign … 2014 MaxPreps Medium School All-America third team … all-west region first team choice … 2014 Burbank Leader Female Athlete of the Year … 2014 all-area most valuable player … 25-3 mark with a 0.78 ERA and 309 strikeouts as a sophomore, claiming league most valuable player accolades … added a .526 average and 12 home runs at the plate … logged a 23-7 record and 1.95 ERA as a freshman, punching out 180 batters … three-time Burbank softball most valuable player and all-CIF Division 3 selection … three-time High Desert Classic tournament champion, and two-time most valuable player … also won two varsity letters in golf … has competed with Valley Tribe and the So Cal Choppers on the club circuit … finished ninth at the 2014 Premier Girls Fastpitch Nationals … daughter of Roger and Shari Farthing-Brooks … has one brother, Tyler … uncle, Gerry Halaska, swam at UCLA.
Coach Gumpf on Caitlyn Brooks: “A great story about Caitlyn is that she came to camp as an eighth grader, and the minute we saw her here at Notre Dame we knew she was someone special. She had a great camp here at Notre Dame then, and she just continues to get better and better. She has this presence about her when she’s on the mound that I love. How she handles pressure, how she handles tough situations, is very mature. I think she’s a wise player, and when you’re a pitcher that’s one of the best attributes that you can have. To be able to look like you’re managing no matter the situation, and she does a great job of that. She has great command on her pitches, she makes the ball move, and she’s a competitor. She’s like a bulldog out there, she just finds a way.”
Madison “Maddie” McCracken – C – 5-10 – R / R – Olathe North – Olathe, Kan.
PREP AND PERSONAL: Three-year letterwinner at Olathe North High School … team leader in home runs and batting average in each of three seasons at Olathe North … NFCA and CBS Sports-MaxPreps All-America second team choice as a catcher in 2014 … three-time NFCA all-region (South Central) first team catcher (2012-14) … three-time first team 6A all-state selection (2012-14), and first team all-Sunflower League performer … Fastpitch Online Showcase Top Prospect … 2013 NFCA All-America second team catcher … CBS Sports-MaxPreps All-America Sophomore catcher choice … Olathe North finished as the regional runner-up during freshman campaign … 2012 NFCA All-America third team … 2012 CBS Sports MaxPreps All-America Freshman … competed for one year in junior varsity tennis … most recently played with the KC Peppers Gold club team … finished at the 18u Premier National Championship … 2014 Kansas Honors Scholar … three-time NFCA Academic All-America Scholar-Athlete (2012-14) … member of the National Honor Society … also involved with the Junior Optimist Club, Faraday Society and has served as commissioner of the Links Crew mentorship program … hitting coach Jarrah (Myers) Kennedy was a two-time All-American (2001-02) at Notre Dame … daughter of Todd and Chris McCracken … has one sister, Megan, who caught at Wichita State.
Coach Gumpf on Maddie McCracken: “We found out about Maddie when we were watching her sister play. She actually used to work out with one of our alumni, so we’ve been able keep an eye on her from a distance for many years. Behind the plate, she is a great manager of the game. When I watch her I am intrigued by how she handles the field. She makes herself matter on the field because of her presence and how she manages the situations, and she is a really good fundamental catcher. She has a nice arm, she moves well behind the plate, and she has a great mind for the game. She uses it to her benefit really well.”
Melissa Rochford – IF/UT – 5-3 – R / R – Mater Dei – Irvine, Calif.
PREP AND PERSONAL: Three-year letterwinner at Mater Dei High School … sidelined during junior season due to injury … helped lead the Monarchs to a Trinity League Championship as a sophomore, batting .446 with 22 RBI … named to the all-Trinity League first team … selected as the 2014 Monarch Pride Award winner … claimed second team all-Trinity League honors as a freshman, batting .389 as one of the team’s co-rookies of the year … has seen extensive time on the club level with the Corona Angels (10u), Irvine Sting (12u/14u), Orange County Batbusters-Myers (16u) and SoCal Athletics-Richardson (18u) … 2013 PGF National Championship team runner-up with the OC Batbusters-Myers … traveled to Italy in 2007 to compete as part of the Italian National Team … recognized by the California Scholarship Federation, and is a member of the National Honor Society … named to the Mater Dei principal’s honor roll in six straight semesters … attends the same high school as 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, current Notre Dame football captain Joe Schmidt, former Irish softball All-American Heather Johnson (’11) and current junior second team All-America first baseman Micaela Arizmendi … daughter of John and Remy Rochford … has one sister, Brittany, who played softball at Emerson College … great-grandmother Theresa Ostenberg attended St. Mary’s College in 1905.
Coach Gumpf on Melissa Rochford: “Melissa is a solid player, all the way around. She comes from a great club and high school background where she’s had great people that she’s worked with. Melissa has been injured over the last year so we haven’t had the opportunity to watch her as closely lately, but she’s done great with her rehab and I expect big things from her. Watching her as a player, she’s very consistent, she’s solid, and she’s always there. She is a get it done kind of player. The consistency is always there with her, and she’s someone that you can count on. Great hands on the corner, she’s quick on her feet and moves really well.”
Ali Wester – OF – 5-4 – L / R – Edison – Huntington Beach, Calif.
PREP AND PERSONAL: Letterwinner at Edison High School … named the Chargers most valuable player as a junior team captain in 2014 after batting .422 with 13 stolen bases … tabbed to the all-Sunset League first team … swiped 20 bags while adding a .351 clip during sophomore year at Edison, also earning first team all-Sunset League honors … .421 average and 20 stolen bases during freshman campaign, earning team rookie of the year accolades … has also won varsity letters in volleyball (two) and basketball (one) during prep career … most recently competed with the Firecrackers-Rico on the club circuit … club squad won the Colorado Fireworks and Triple Crown Sports tournaments in 2013 … attends the same high school as former Irish standout Dani Miller, and current junior Casey Africano … daughter of Gary and Sue Wester … has two sisters, Karley and Riley … father, Gary, competed in track and field the University of Wisconsin … sister, Karley Wester, was a second team NFCA All-American as a freshman for Notre Dame in 2014.
Coach Gumpf on Ali Wester: “The great thing about Ali is she is her own person. We’re very lucky to have Karley here, but regardless of Karley I still would have gone after Ali. Ali is a “quiet assassin,” you don’t even realize she’s doing it until it’s done, and she drives teams crazy with how she plays. She’s not flashy, you may not notice her right away, but she can tear you apart. She will rip through a team and leave them wondering how she did that, how she keeps getting on base. Ali and Karley are definitely different people, and I love that about Ali. She’s not carbon copy, she’s her own person and she’s really good. She’s found her strengths being Ali, she will make an impact when you’re not paying attention.”
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant