March 22, 2000
Making a Name: In a tournament with 10 of the top 25 and six of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation, the Notre Dame softball team made a name for itself, advancing to the semifinals of the Kia Classic at Cal State Fullerton, March 15-19, before losing to second-ranked Arizona, 6-3.
The Irish began their spring break trip by sweeping two games from San Diego State, one from Loyola Marymount and then opened the tournament with a 1-0 shutout of Cal State Northridge, the team’s 11th straight victory. The Irish then fell in a close game to #3 Arizona State (2-1) before defeating Texas, #16 Louisiana-Lafayette and #6 Oklahoma.
We’re In: Making its first appearance in the top-25 rankings since 1997, the Notre Dame softball team is ranked 22nd (118 votes) in this week’s USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I poll released Wednesday. The Irish received only 19 votes the week prior (27th-most), after grabbing the 31st-most votes two weeks in a row. Notre Dame received only one vote in the preseason poll.
As a result of the team’s successful weekend, the Irish also jumped from 18th in the Utah Blue Power Rankings to 14th. The power rankings (see page 3) are computer-based and can be found on www.sluggers-sports.com.
BIG EAST Honors: Notre Dame pitcher Michelle Moschel (Naples, Fla.) and first baseman Andrea Loman (Riverside, Calif.) both earned conference honors Monday for their play last week. Moschel was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week for the first time in her career, while Loman earned co-rookie of the week honors along with Pittsburgh’s Kelly Hulpa .
In three appearances last week, Moschel went 2-0 with a save, compiling 17 strikeouts in 17 innings pitched. Against Loyola Marymount, she threw her fourth complete game and second shutout, allowing just five hits. In her next outing, Moschel struck out 10 batters and picked up her fourth straight win in the team’s 4-2 victory over Texas. Moschel then preserved the team’s upset win against #6 Oklahoma, striking out four and allowing just one hit in a little over three innings.
Loman batted .316 in Notre Dame’s seven games last week with five runs scored, four stolen bases and three RBI. Loman tied a school-record in Notre Dame’s win over Texas with two home runs in consecutive at-bats and recorded the winning run versus Cal State Northridge and #6 Oklahoma.
Loman and Moschel join junior Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) and freshman Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.), who were named the BIG EAST player of the week and BIG EAST rookie of the week on March 13, the first week for conference honors.
Streaking to an End: Notre Dame’s 11-game win streak and pitcher Jennifer Sharron’s (Agoura Hills, Calif.) career-best 33.1 consecutive shutout innings came to an end in the team’s 2-1 loss to #3 Arizona State. The Irish also had their school-record five consecutive shutouts stopped in the team’s 11-3 win over San Diego State.
Record Breakers: Just 24 games into the season, 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.
Spring Break Notes: With their 18-6 record, the Irish are currently tied with the 1995 team for having the best record through 24 games in the program’s history …. the 1995 team, incidentally, advanced to the NCAA regional final … juniors Jennifer Sharron and Danielle Klayman (San Diego, Calif.) both hit their first career home runs in the Arizona game off Wildcat pitcher Jenny Finch … Sharron also picked up her first career save in the team’s 4-2 win over Texas.
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 14 by six different players.
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 – 14 by six players
Action – Scouting the Field: Notre Dame and Purdue will flip flop fields this week with the Irish and the Boilermakers slated for the 2000 Irish season opener on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Ivy Field. Notre Dame will then head down to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Boilermaker Invitational, March 25-26, a five-team tournament featuring Kent State, #13 Michigan, Toledo, Bradley and host Purdue.
The Boilermakers: Notre Dame and Purdue split the two team’s meeting in 1999, with the Irish grabbing their first victory ever over the Boilermakers with a 10-2 win in the second half of the doubleheader. This year, Purdue, under head coach Carol Bruggeman, is 14-13 overall with notable wins over UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State and notable losses to Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas, all teams which the Irish have posted victories over.
Sophomore Katie Crabtree leads the Boilermaker offense with a .372 batting average including five home runs, while pitchers Meagan Dooley (3-5), Crystal Inman (3-1), Nicole Crouse (3-3) and Leighann Burke (5-4) have all seen starting time in the circle.
The Irish in Home Openers: Notre Dame is 9-2 so far in home openers with its only losses coming in 1997 versus Boston College (0-2) and in 1992 against Bowling Green (0-3).
Connoyer Connection: Purdue assistant coach Christy Connoyer, now in her fourth season with the Boilermakers, returns to her alma mater Thursday. Connoyer was a four-year standout for the Irish from 1991-94, earning first team all-conference honors each season.
The Golden Flashes: The Irish will kick off the Boilermaker Invitational with its first ever meeting with the Kent State Golden Flashes. The Flashes enter the tournament with a 5-6 record after their mid-week game with Robert Morris was canceled due to rain. Under head coach Karen Linder, Grete Hornstrom is hitting a team best .405, while Jamie Kraus (.391) and Denae Jones (.341) will both be threats offensively. Three Golden Flash pitchers have seen starting time, led by Taylor Fleming, who has a 4-6 record.
The Wolverines: The 13th-ranked Michigan Wolverines will be out to avenge their 1-0 loss to the Irish last season in the NCAA regionals when the two schools face Saturday with the all-time series knotted at 4-4. Coach Carol Hutchins’ squad enters the tournament with an 18-6 record and is coming off a championship performance at the Florida State tournament last weekend.
Third baseman Pam Kosanke leads the Wolverine starters with a .381 batting average, while infielder Marissa Young has a team-best 25 RBI. On the mound, Marie Barda is 6-3 record with a 0.26 ERA, giving up only seven runs, two of which are earned.
Conrad Connection: Former Michigan All-American and current Notre Dame assistant coach Traci Conrad will face her alma mater for the first time this weekend. Conrad is the Big Ten career hits leader and won numerous national awards while playing four years at first base. As a senior in 1999, she was named a Honda Award Finalist and a third team All-American, while receiving her second nod as Big Ten Player of the Year and Michigan team MVP.
Conrad coincidentally struck out to end the game in Notre Dame’s 1-0 win in last year’s NCAA regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., which eliminated the Wolverines.
The Rockets: Notre Dame carries a perfect 4-0 all-time record into its game with Toledo Sunday morning. In 2000, Toledo has played just eight games, winning five of them for a 5-3 overall record. Coach Michele Fagnant’s top hitters include starters Jenny Schaaf, who is batting .379 with two home runs, and Kalika Stavroulak, who has a .321 average. Sophomore Colette McMaastero and junior Kristy Kassotis have been the pitchers of record for the Rockets in all eight games.
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.
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.
Head Coach Liz Miller: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller is in her eighth season at Notre Dame (294-141) and her 25th season overall (835-283). 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.