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Irish, UNC Clash In 2018 Melissa Cook Stadium Opener

March 22, 2018

by Tony Jones

ND Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Notre Dame vs. North Carolina
March 23-25, 2018
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana

No. RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(19-8, 4-1 ACC in 2018)

North Carolina Tar Heels
(14-15, 4-2 ACC in 2018)

Notre Dame Weekend Schedule

Friday, March 23
Notre Dame vs. North Carolina – 5 p.m. (ET)

Saturday, March 24
Notre Dame vs. North Carolina – 3 p.m. (ET)

Sunday, March 25
Notre Dame vs. North Carolina – 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A long stretch of 27 games away from home opened the season for the University of Notre Dame softball team, but the 2018 debut at Melissa Cook Stadium has finally arrived for the Irish. Notre Dame is set to host North Carolina in a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series this weekend, with Sunday’s 2 p.m. (ET) contest a national TV broadcast on ESPNU.

No. RV Notre Dame (19-8, 4-1 ACC) has won 13 of its last 14 games overall dating back to Feb. 24. The 4-1 ACC start for the Irish matches the team’s best opening five games in the conference since joining the league in 2014, as the 2016 Notre Dame squad also won four of its first five ACC tilts that season.

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Irish Sweep Louisville

Despite falling behind 2-0 in the first inning of Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series finale at Louisville, Notre Dame never wavered from the resolve it showed throughout its spring break slate to battle back from adversity. The Irish blitzed the host Cardinals for seven unanswered runs over the final five innings for a 7-2 win to sweep the three-game set from No. RV Louisville at Ulmer Stadium.

Notre Dame closed a 7-1 spring break jaunt that began with a two-game split on March 10 at NC State, and included a perfect 6-0 week that featured stops at North Florida for two games on March 13, a game at Jacksonville on March 14, and last weekend’s series at Louisville. The Irish outscored the Cardinals 20-6 during their three-game stay at Ulmer Stadium, which featured a 17-6 edge in RBI for the visitors.

Irish Taking Over In UL Series

Sunday’s win over Louisville put the finishing touches on the first three-game sweep of the Cardinals by Notre Dame in series history. The Irish have now won 11 of their last 14 games against the Cardinals dating back to 2013, the best stretch in the series by either team since Notre Dame and Louisville first met in 2002.

In fact, the Irish have not lost a series to Louisville since being swept in a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader on April 21, 2007. Notre Dame improved to 21-16 (.568) against the Cardinals all time, including 10-7 in games played in Louisville, with its three wins last weekend.

Irish On Spring Break

Notre Dame finished a successful spring break trip that went through three states, North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky, to net the Irish seven overall wins and a 4-1 start in the ACC. Notre Dame defeated NC State 15-0 in five innings on March 10, North Florida 4-0 and 3-1 on March 13, Jacksonville 3-1 on March 14, and Louisville 10-3 on March 16, 3-1 on March 17 and 7-2 on March 18.On top of outscoring opponents by a 46-12 aggregate run count during the 7-1 road trip, Notre Dame batted .319 to just a .208 clip for the opposition. The Irish held a 69-40 edge in total hits, 41-10 margin in RBI and .385-.305 edge in on-base percentage.

Ali Wester batted a team-high .414 with 12 hits during her past eight starts to pace Notre Dame, while Abby Sweet led the way for the Irish with eight runs scored and three stolen bases. Cait Brooks ripped two home runs and logged eight RBI during the same stretch to set the tone in both categories, one of six Irish hitters with five or more RBI on the week.

In the circle, Alexis Holloway put together a 4-0 trip after appearing in all eight contests (four starts), fashioning a 1.12 ERA and three saves to go along with two shutouts in 31.1 innings pitched. Opponents batted just .147 against Holloway during spring break, while the freshman right-hander spun 27 strikeouts. Katie Beriont added a 3-1 mark and 0.97 ERA in her five appearances (four starts), allowing only three earned runs in 21.2 innings of work.

The Irish Thus Far In March

Notre Dame has raced out to a 12-1 start in the month of March, winning six straight games overall since game one at North Florida on March 13. The Irish have outscored opponents 89-24 thus far this month, and have outhit foes by a staggering 125-58 margin since March 1.

Ali Wester leads four Notre Dame hitters batting above .400 for the month with a .478 average over her last 13 starts, ripping a team-high 22 hits while driving in nine runs and scoring 12 times. Abby Sweet has hit at a .450 clip with a .531 on-base percentage, stolen eight bases, added nine RBI and scored a team-high 14 times this month. Cait Brooks (.417, team-high 14 RBI) and Alexis Bazos (.400, five RBI, 10 runs scored) are also part of the Irish .400 club in March.

Notre Dame’s pitching staff has compiled a team 1.37 ERA thus far in March, holding foes to a miniscule .197 batting average against in 82 innings. Alexis Holloway is 8-0 with an 0.98 ERA and three saves, touting an impressive .140 batting average against this month, while Katie Beriont is 4-1 with a 1.18 ERA in her last eight appearances to drive the Irish pitching game.

Irish Against The ACC

Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, Notre Dame is a combined 179-68 (.725) against the current ACC membership.

Irish Against the Opposition

Notre Dame returns to Melissa Cook Stadium for the first time in 2018, welcoming North Carolina to campus for the second straight season and just the third time in series history. The Irish took two of three games, a 2-1 decision in nine innings and a 2-0 Katie Beriont no-hitter, from the Tar Heels last April after splitting a pair of games in 2015.

Notre Dame owns a 14-6 (.700) edge against North Carolina in the all-time series between the teams, including a 6-4 mark in the past 10 meetings.


Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball, men’s soccer and swimming and diving programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.