April 19, 2000
Down A Point: After a 5-2 week, the Notre Dame softball team slipped one spot to a #19 ranking in the April 19 USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I poll. The Irish were ranked 21st for two weeks after entering the poll at the 22nd position, March 24. The team received just one vote in the preseason poll.
The #18 ranking was the second-highest in program history, trailing only the 1994 squad which began it’s season at #17 in the NFCA preseason poll.
Staying Steady: Although the Irish slipped in the national poll, they stayed in the number one slot of the Northeast Regional rankings for the second time in a row. Also appearing in the second set of regional rankings released Thursday, April 13, were BIG EAST Conference foes Connecticut (2nd), Villanova (6th) and Rutgers (10th).
The Irish are making their first appearance in the Northeast Region after being ranked as a member of the Mideast Region last year, where they finished the season in the number 10 slot. The bi-weekly rankings are used as a part of the championship tournament selection process and consist of six regions with 10 teams apiece. The next rankings are slated for release on Thursday, April 27.
Sharron, Myers Tabbed For Honors: Notre Dame softball players Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) and Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) each were honored by the BIG EAST Conference Monday for their performances in the team’s seven games last week. A sophomore catcher, Myers earned BIG EAST Player-of-the-Week honors, while Sharron was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week for the second straight time.
Myers hit .381 with three home runs, seven RBI, five runs scored, a triple and had a .905 slugging percentage, as the Irish went 5-2 last week. Myers was 3-for-6 with three runs scored and two RBI in the doubleheader with Butler Wednesday, including her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot. On Saturday, she blasted her second home run of the week to tie the game at 2-2 in the team’s extra-inning loss to Boston College. Against Loyola Sunday, the 1999 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year went 2-for-3 at the plate, including her third home run of the week, which tied her for the team lead with seven in 2000. It is Myers’ first weekly honor of the year.
Sharron earns her second BIG EAST Pitcher-of-the-Week honor in as many weeks. The southpaw went 3-1 in four appearances, logging a 0.60 earned-run average and allowing just two runs in 23.1 innings, while striking out 34. Sharron recorded back-to-back games with 10 strikeouts in wins against Butler and DePaul and then blanked conference rival Boston College Saturday, 7-0.
To Be The Second Best: At 35-12, the Notre Dame softball team now has the second best record in program history. The 2000 Irish fell just below the 1996 team, which had a 36-11 record through its first 47 games.
Sycamore Split: Just one run separated the winners from the losers in a non-conference doubleheader between 18th-ranked Notre Dame and Indiana State Tuesday. The Irish, who moved to 35-12 overall, won the first game 2-1, but then fell to the Sycamores (17-25) in the second game, 3-2.
To Be Shutout Or Not To Be Shutout: A two-run Lizzy Lemire home run in the bottom of the seventh inning kept the Irish from being shutout for the first time this season Tuesday against Indiana State. The Irish have scored at least one run in all 47 of their games, while shutting out their opponents 18 times.
Close But No Cigar: Jennifer Sharron came close to reaching two milestones in wins over DePaul and Butler last week. She carried a perfect game into the sixth inning versus Butler, before giving up the only two hits of the game. The next day, she came back to no-hit DePaul, a 1999 College World Series Participant, for six innings, before surrendering three hits and a run in the seventh.
Going Yard: With Lizzy Lemire’s home run against Indiana State, the Irish are just four home runs away from tying the school record of 29, which was set last year. Lemire’s first home run of the season, against DePaul April 13, gave the Irish a school-record seven players who have gone yard at least once in 2000. Junior Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.), who belted a school-record tying 10 in 1999, and sophomore Jarrah Myers are tied for the team lead with seven each.
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.
Team Home Runs By Year
1989 – Four by three players
1990 – Seven by three players
1991 – None
1992 – Nine by three players
1993 – Seven by three players
1994 – 17 by five players
1995 – 11 by four players
1996 – Six by three players
1997 – 14 by four players
1998 – Four by three players
1999 – 29 by six players
2000 – 25 by seven players
BIG EAST Shake-up: Parity has hit the BIG EAST in a big way this season. With a 6-2 record, the Irish are first in the standings, followed by Connecticut (8-4) and Boston College (6-3). St. John’s, a team which went 3-13 last season, is fourth with a 6-4 record, while the rest of the conference has a losing record. Two BIG EAST doubleheaders have been canceled thus far – Notre Dame-Rutgers and Villanova-Pittsburgh. The games will only be made up if they figure into which teams advance to the four-team BIG EAST Tournament, scheduled for May 5-7 at Boston College.
Action – Scouting the Field: After playing Indiana State Tuesday, the Irish play two relatively new programs Thursday against Oakland (first season) and Saturday versus Pittsburgh (third season). The Notre Dame-Oakland match-up, originally scheduled for a doubleheader, was changed to a single game set for 4 p.m.
The Grizzlies: Oakland is 16-22 in its inaugural campaign with wins over Western Illinois (1-0), Western Michigan (5-0) and three over IUPUI last weekend. Under head coach Steve Ogg, freshman Ericka Burns is hitting .391 with nine triples (second-best nationally) and 26 runs scored, while Keri Sedgley is leading the team in RBI with 18. Five Grizzlie pitchers have seen time in the circle this year, led by Linnea Utecht, who is 7-10 with a 2.66 earned-run average.
The Panthers: Notre Dame travels to Pittsburgh for the first time ever, after the two schools played at Notre Dame in 1999. The Irish beat the Panthers twice, 6-1 and 10-2, in Pittsburgh’s first ever BIG EAST Conference games. Under head coach Michelle Phalen, Pitt went 16-34-1 in 1999, but have already equaled their win total this season with a 16-21 record.
Sophomore catcher Jackie Haar is first on the team in batting with a .309 average, including 21 RBI and seven home runs. Pittsburgh, however, has struggled offensively, combining for a .222 team batting average. Kelly Hulpa (5 HRs, 15 RBI) and Tiffany Barrett (.284 average, 11 RBI) are also threats on offense.
Pitchers Gina Bessolo, sister of former Irish standout Angela Bessolo, and Laura LeViere are both 4-5 this season, while ace Nikki Gasti is 7-7 overall in 14 starts.
Within the Ranks: In the third set of NCAA statistics published this week, the Irish still appear in six categories. Junior Melanie Alkire moved from eighth to seventh in runs batted in with 49, pitcher Jennifer Sharron jumped 15 spots to 35th in earned-run average with a 1.04 mark and sophomore pitcher Michelle Moschel (Naples, Fla.) is 19th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.4). The team’s batting average is ninth nationally (.312), its fielding percentage is ranked 10th (.972) and the team’s winning percentage (.756) is 19th-best in the country.
Record Breakers: The 2000 Irish have already broken or tied three school records.
– Most RBI in a game (6) by Melanie Alkire vs. San Diego State (3/12) beating the previous record of five by seven people.
– Most consecutive team shutouts (5) from March 4-12, beating the previous record of four.
– Most home runs in a game (2) by Andrea Loman vs. Texas, tying the record set by four other people.
Miller’s 300th: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller is in her eighth season at Notre Dame (311-147) and her 25th season overall (852-289). Recently, she earned her 300th win at Notre Dame against BIG EAST Conference foe Connecticut in the team’s 3-0 win back on March 31.
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.
USA Today/NFCA Div. I Poll
|Rank||Team (1st Pl. Vts.)||W-L||Votes||LR|
|4.||(tie) Arizona State||37-10||575||4|
|15.||Cal State Fullerton||34-11||288||17|
|17.||Long Beach State||31-15||226||15 (tie)|
Others Receiving Votes: Nebraska (27), Texas A&M (23), Cal State Northridge (22), New Mexico (22), Arkansas (19), Wisconsin (11), North Carolina (9).
Irish vs. Upcoming Opponents
Oakland (0-0): First Meeting
Pittsburgh (2-0): 1999: W, 6-1, W, 10-2 (5)
NCAA Regional Rankings – April 13, 2000
|Northeast Region||Mideast Region||Midwest Region|
|1. Notre Dame (29-9)||1. Michigan (28-7)||1. Oklahoma (43-5)|
|2. Connecticut (23-10)||2. Iowa (27-7)||2. Nebraska (29-16)|
|3. Hofstra (21-14)||3. Ill.-Chicago (37-20)||3. Texas A&M (23-14)|
|4. Virginia Tech (26-15)||4. Wisconsin (24-16)||4. Missouri (29-16)|
|5. Boston Univ. (20-12)||5. Penn State (21-8)||5. Oklahoma State (29-15)|
|6. Villanova (17-9-1)||6. Michigan State (25-14)||6. Northern Iowa (21-21)|
|7. Long Island (15-14-1)||7. Western Illinois (24-13)||7. Creighton (22-13)|
|8. Delaware (22-7)||8. Purdue (23-20)||8. SW Texas St. (28-17)|
|9. Cornell (16-5)||9. Minnesota (22-19)||9. Iowa State (15-15)|
|10. Rutgers (14-9)||10. Central Mich.(11-5)||10. Evansville (30-14-1)|
|South Region||West Region||Pacific Region|
|1. S. Mississippi (39-10)||1. Fresno State (36-9)||1. Washington (41-4)|
|2. LSU (37-7)||2. Long Beach St. (30-13)||2. Arizona (42-4)|
|3. Alabama (46-7)||3. CSU Fullerton (31-11)||3. UCLA (31-5)|
|4. La.-Lafayette (32-11)||4. Utah (24-18)||4. Arizona State (36-8)|
|5. Mississippi St. (31-15)||5. New Mexico (27-12)||5. California (39-11)|
|6. South Carolina (39-17)||6. San Diego St. (22-20)||6. Stanford (33-9)|
|7. North Carolina (37-13)||7. Pacific (CA) (19-17)||7. Oregon State (26-12-1)|
|8. Arkansas (25-22)||8. UCSB (20-14)||8. CSU North. (21-16-1)|
|9. Florida (35-17)||9. Oregon (23-11)|
|10. CSU Sac. (17-15)|
BIG EAST Standings
As of April 19
BIG EAST Weekly Honors
BIG EAST Players of the Week
April 17 – Jarrah Myers, ND
April 11 – Debbie DeJong, RU
April 3 – Lisa Girolamo, UCONN
March 27 – Melanie Alkire, ND
Vickie Lamb, SH
March 20 – Megan Biddle, Connecticut
March 13 – Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame
BIG EAST Pitchers of the Week
April 17 – Jennifer Sharron, ND
April 11 – Jennifer Sharron, ND
April 3 – Keri Stoller (VI), Leah Black (RU)
March 27 – Barbara Cook, UCONN
March 20 – Michelle Moschel, ND
March 13 – Barbara Cook, UCONN
BIG EAST Rookies of the Week
April 17 – Kim Ryan, BC
April 11 – Kim Ryan, BC
Courtney Fitzgerald, SJ
April 3 – Andria Bledsoe, ND
March 27 – Christina Shanko, SH
March 20 – Andrea Loman, ND
Kelly Hulpa, Pitt.
March 13 – Andria Bledsoe, ND
2000 Notre Dame Tentative Defensive Starting Lineup
Pitchers – Jennifer Sharron, Jr. (LHP)
Michelle Moschel, So. (RHP)
Catcher – Jarrah Myers, So.
First Base – Andrea Loman, Fr.
Second Base – Alexis Madrid, Fr.
Third Base – Andria Bledsoe, Fr.
Shortstop – Melanie Alkire, Jr.
Left field – Lizzy Lemire, Jr.
Center field – Danielle Klayman, Jr.
Right field – Jenny Kriech, So.