April 16, 2007
Rain, Rain, Go Away:
Notre Dame’s softball team had four conference games postponed by the rain/cold last week, April 9-15. The Irish are now scheduled to play against DePaul on Sunday, April 29 starting 1 p.m. (ET). There has been no makeup date scheduled for the Connecticut doubleheader.
Winning Streak Snapped:
The Irish saw their 10-game winning-streak snapped with the 2-1 loss to Eastern Michigan (April 10). Stephanie Brown hit her first home run of the season to account for the lone Irish run. Brittney Bargar threw the first four innings for Notre Dame and only surrendered a hit.
A Split With Providence:
Notre Dame splits its conference doubleheader against Providence, winning the first game 10-1 before dropping the second game 9-0 (April 14). Brittney Bargar picked up the game one win for Notre Dame.
In the first game against Providence, senior Gessica Hufnagle had a career performance with her five RBI. The five runs-batted in is not only a career-high performance for the catcher, but is a season best performance by any Irish player this year.
A Few Early Trends:
o Notre Dame continues to fight to the last out and has won four games in bottom of the seventh/eighth inning.
o The Irish are 4-2 in one-run games this season.
o Notre Dame is 16-0 when it takes a lead through the fourth inning and 3-13 when it goes through the fourth inning trailing.
o The Irish are 10-1 when scoring in the first inning. Overall Notre Dame is 14-1 when it scores first in a game.
o The Irish have outscored their opponents in every inning this season except the second where they trail 9-7.
o In neutral site games, Notre Dame won seven of the ten games it has been designated as the home team on the scoreboard.
o The Irish are 1-11 when the team scores two or less runs in a game.
o When Notre Dame makes one error in a game the team is 5-9, but when the team makes zero or two errors it is 15-5.
o The Irish are 0-6 against ranked opponents this season.
Liking the Home Cooking:
Eight different Irish players are batting over .300 after the first 11 games at the friendly confines of Ivy Field. The eight in order goes as follows: Stephanie Brown (.513), Gessica Hufnagle (.407), Christine Lux (.385), Heather Johnson (.379), Katie Laing (.375), Stephanie Mola (.308), Beth Northway (.308), Erin Glasco (.300). As a team Notre Dame is batting .360 in home games this year, while limiting opponents to a .132 batting average.
On Tap This Week:
The Irish because of all the recent weather issues of have eight home games this week. Notre Dame welcomes in Western Michigan for a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. on April 17. Ball State comes for a single game visit on April 18 at 5 p.m. The following day will be a make-up game against Valparaiso at 5 p.m. The Irish will then finish the week with a pair of conference doubleheaders at Ivy Field against Louisville and South Florida. Both weekend games are set to begin at noon. The first South Florida game will be a CSTV game, which is the only scheduled television game for Notre Dame this season.
Either Way She’s Okay:
Senior Stephanie Brown is hitting .455 (5-for-11) against left-handed pitchers this season and is batting .464 (39-for-84) against righties.
That A Way To Lead Off:
Stephanie Brown has led off an inning 48 times this season and has reached base 24 of those times (.500).
A Clutch Performer:
Eight of sophomore Erin Glasco’s nine RBI totals this season have come with two outs.
Moving Them Along:
Freshman Heather Johnson has advanced runners a team-best 35 times this season.
And Driving Them In:
Christine Lux leads the team with a .444 batting average with two outs (8-for-18) and has eight two-out RBIs.
The Kohan Factor:
Second baseman Linda Kohan has really dictated the outcome of the Irish season. In Notre Dame wins, Kohan is hitting .347 (17-for-49) with all 13 of her RBIs, while in Irish losses the sophomore is only hitting .118 (4-for-34).
A Balanced Lineup:
On the season, 10 different Irish players have tallied multi-hit games and nine different players have multi-RBI games.
Conference Leaders (Overall):
After the eighth week of action, senior Stephanie Brown leads the conference in on-base percentage (.514), batting average (.463) and runs scored (28). She is also tied for second in hits (44), tied for third in triples (2), tied for fourth in stolen bases (11), and fifth in slugging percentage (.568).
Heather Johnson is tied for the lead in doubles with 11 and fourth in runs-batted-in (25).
Middle infielder Linda Kohan is seventh in the conference in walks with 15.
Brittney Bargar leads the conference in wins (13) and is tied for the lead in complete game (16). She is second in innings pitched (138.1) and is third in strikeouts (139). She is also tied for second in games started (19), seventh in opponent’s batting average against (.222) and eighth in appearances (24).
Conference Leaders (BIG EAST):
Stephanie Brown leads the conference in batting average (.514) and is second in hits (18) in league games only. Brown is also fourth in stolen bases (4) and runs scored (10) and seventh in total bases (22).
Gessica Hufnagle leads everyone with her .577 on-base percentage and five sacrifice flies. She is also third in the conference with her .476 batting average.
Katie Laing is second in doubles (5) and tied for sixth in runs scored (8).
Heather Johnson is tied for second in doubles (5), and tied for third in runs driven in (11).
Brittney Bargar is tied for the conference lead with five wins.
Bargar also leads the conference in strikeouts (37), and opponent’s batting average against (.114). She is also fifth in earned-run average (0.82) and seventh in innings pitched (34.1).
Fuemmeler is tied for the fifth in the conference in wins with four.
Scouting Western Michigan:
The Broncos (13-14) split their two games over the weekend against Northern Illinois. WMU has a record of 6-6 against teams that Notre Dame has played or will play this season, including wins against both Syracuse and South Florida. The best hitter for Western Michigan has been junior Becky Bartosz. Bartosz leads the squad with three home runs, 14 RBI and a .313 batting average. The pitching is a strong point of the team. The ace is junior Kyla Sullivan. Sullivan leads the team with eight wins, a 1.38 ERA, 15 complete games, three shutouts, 116.2 innings pitched and 84 strikeouts. WMU has been a difficult team to beat when given an early lead as they are 11-2 when the squad scores first in a game, but if you keep them under two runs for the game they are only 1-13. There are numerous players on the Western Michigan roster that have ties to the Michiana area including Molly Mroczek, Kelli Zache, Amanda Heckaman, Corey Andrzejewski and Molly Lange.
Series vs. Western Michigan:
This will be the 24th meeting between these two teams with Notre Dame holding a 17-5 advantage. The series dates back to 1992. The Irish lost the first two games and have won 10 of the last 11 against the Broncos. Last season was a 5-0 & 2-1 Irish doubleheader sweep. Brittney Bargar picked up the win in the second game for Notre Dame.
Scouting Ball State:
Over the weekend, Ball State (15-25) won both its games against Toledo on April 13, but lost both of the games to Bowling Green from April 14-15. The Cardinals offense is led by the duo of junior Abby Gross and senior Kelli Jeziorkski. Gross leads the team with a .358 batting average, 43 hits and 29 runs-batted-in. Jeziorski has hit a team-high seven home runs to go with her 26 runs scored and 26 runs driven in. Freshman Elizabeth Milian has made an immediate impact in the circle. She leads the team in wins (10), appearances (28), games started (20), complete games (18), innings pitched (153.1) and strikeouts (77).
Series vs. Ball State:
This is the 11th meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame holding a slight 6-4 edge. The series dates back to 1991 when the Irish defeated Ball State 5-3 in eight innings. At one point, Ball State had won four in a row before the most recent five-game winning streak by Notre Dame. Last year, Notre Dame won 6-0 with junior Katie Laing scoring the game-winning run.
The Crusaders (19-10) took two-of-three games from IUPUI over the weekend. Junior Shannon Robinson leads the team in batting average (.385), hits (35), and runs driven in (16). Senior Taylor Callahan has 10 doubles this season. Senior Karen Korb has scored 21 runs and stolen 15 bases on the year. The Crusaders use three different pitchers. Junior Andrea Zappia has thrown a team-high 72.2 innings with 72 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA. Fellow junior Chris Halstead has a record of 6-1 and a 2.62 ERA on the year, while sophomore Stephanie Kelly has eight wins and a 2.96 ERA.
Series vs. Valparaiso:
The series between these two teams has been fairly one-sided toward the Irish. After falling twice to the Crusaders in 1989, Notre Dame has won the last 25 meeting and owns an overall record of 26-2 in the series. The Irish went to Valparaiso last season and came away with a 6-2 victory. The 26 wins are the most by the Irish over an opponent that has never been in same conference as them. Notre Dame also has 26 wins over Butler, but they spent time in the MCC together.
The Cardinals (25-16, 7-1 BIG EAST) swept their weekend conference doubleheader over Syracuse and also had their Pittsburgh doubleheader rained out. Louisville’s offensive attack is led by senior Audrey Rendon, who is hitting .360 with 27 runs scored, 54 hits, eight doubles, six triples and 13 stolen bases. Fellow senior Courtney Moore is the power threat with seven home runs and 29 RBI. Louisville uses three pitchers. Senior Catherine Bishop has a 6-6 record, but a sparkling 1.86 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 82.2 inning pitched. Freshman and fellow Australian native Kristen Wadwell is 9-5 with a 2.13 ERA. Sophomore Kassie Stanfill leads the team with 10 wins. The Cardinals sport an impressive team batting average of .294.
Series vs. Louisville:
Louisville and Notre Dame locked up twice before the Cardinals joined the BIG EAST last season, with each team winning a game. Last year, during the regular season the Cardinals won both games, but Notre Dame got revenge by defeating Louisville 1-0 in the championship game of the BIG EAST Tournament to get the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The all-time series between these two teams currently favors Louisville by a game at 3-2.
Scouting South Florida:
The Bulls (33-19, 5-3 BIG EAST) swept Pittsburgh over the weekend and also had their doubleheader against Syracuse rained out. South Florida has a potent offensive attack with five players with 35+ hits this year. Leading the attack has been junior Kit Dunbar, with her .398 batting average and 10 stolen bases. Senior Danielle Urbanik, who was just named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on April 16, is hitting .384 with team-high 25 RBI. Britta Giddens has nine doubles and 20 walks on the year. The pitching for the Bulls has been excellent with a team ERA of 1.20. USF uses four regular pitchers. Sophomore Christi Ecks has been fairly unhittable with an ERA of 0.60, eight wins, five saves and 111 strikeouts. Junior Bree Spence has seven wins and an ERA of 1.09. Freshman Kristen Gordon leads the team with 10 wins, 108.1 innings pitched and 142 strikeouts. Senior lefty Kasey Cash has won eight games and completed five of her starts.
Series vs. South Florida:
South Florida and the Irish have met 11 times before this year’s doubleheader. South Florida, after the split doubleheader in Tampa last year, lead the series by a game at 6-5.
Streak Hits 10:
Notre Dame’s softball team ran its winning streak to 10 games with wins over Toledo (4-1), Pittsburgh (4-0 & 4-0) and Syracuse (7-0 & 10-2) from March 29-April 1. Stephanie Brown was a hitting star with a .722 batting average and two three-hit games and a four-hit performance. Brittney Bargar had a 3-0 week with a 0.35 ERA. Kenya Fuemmeler also pitched well with a 2-0 record and a 1.17 ERA. The Irish bats were booming on the week with a team batting average of .427 and 29 runs scored. Bargar started the week with her first career hit, a dramatic three-run game-winning walk-off home run to defeat Toledo in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Irish swept Pittsburgh with Brown’s 5-for-7 afternoon with two RBI leading the way. Notre Dame then broke out the bats and took down Syracuse twice. Brown was again a player to be recognized with her 7-for-8 afternoon against the Orange. The Irish also set a new season best with 16 hits in the first game against Syracuse. In the Syracuse games, 11 different Irish team members recorded hits and seven different players drove in runs.
A Look At The History of Streaks:
The recent 10-game winning-streak was only the 12th time in the history of the program that Notre Dame has had a winning streak of 10 or more games. The longest winning streak was 33 games from March 28, 2001-May 5, 2001.
Brown Named BIG EAST Player Of The Week:
Senior Stephanie Brown was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week by the conference office for the first time in her career on April 2. The Irish centerfielder had an amazing week at the plate with a .722 batting average (13-for-18), two doubles, a triple, four runs-batted-in and five runs scored. The senior had four multi-hit games on week including two three-hit performances and a four-hit game. Brittney Bargar was named to the honor roll for the third time this season, as she went 3-0 and had a 0.35 ERA in her three games.
Brown Honored As Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of The Week:
Senior Stephanie Brown captured her second award of the week and the first weekly national honor of her career, as she was named the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Player of the Week. Brown hit an amazing .722 (13-for-18) with five runs scored, two doubles, a triple and four RBI in Notre Dame’s five wins.
A Leader Both On And Off The Field:
Senior Stephanie Brown was one of 20 women nationally named as a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award by the company on April 5.
The word “CLASS” is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School; the award was launched during the 2001-02 season in response to the trend of college basketball players leaving school early to pursue professional careers. Veteran sportscaster Dick Enberg, who still serves as the Honorary Chairman, conceived the award.
Candidates are selected based on qualities that define a complete student-athlete. While the on-the-field performances during the student-athletes collegiate softball careers are a factor in choosing candidates and the eventual winner, the personal character and off-the-field achievements in the classroom and community are also a major areas of focus.
Home At Last:
The Irish had a strong week as they returned home and played their first game at Ivy Field this season, March 22-25. The Irish went 5-0 including four wins in conference play. Brittney Bargar had a strong individual week with a 3-0 record and an ERA of 0.35. Bargar struck out 20 opponents in 20 innings pitched. Fellow right-handed pitcher Kenya Fuemmeler was also strong with a 2-0 record an ERA of 0.58. The Irish started the week with a 6-1 win over IUPUI (March 22). Freshman Heather Johnson had a perfect 3-for-3 afternoon with two doubles to lead the offensive charge. Senior Stephanie Brown also had a steady performance, as she was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. In the second game of the week, Notre Dame ran over conference rival St. John’s 8-0 (March 24). Four different Irish players drove in multiple runs lead by Katie Laing’s two hits and two RBI. The second game of the day and the third game of the week was a 3-0 win over St. John’s. Christine Lux continued her strong afternoon and drove in the game-winner for Notre Dame. On the day, Lux contributed two hits and three RBI. The Irish kept rolling with a pair of wins over Seton Hall (March 25). Bargar was the story of the first game as she won a pitchers duel with nine strikeouts in her 13th complete game of the season. Laing continued her strong week by scoring both runs against the Pirates. The second game over Seton Hall was the ‘Johnson Show’. Johnson had her second three-hit performance of the week, as she was 3-for-3 with three doubles and four RBIs in a 9-1 win over Seton Hall. Johnson has now totaled three three-hit games this season. Fuemmeler continued her strong pitching with another complete game and four strikeouts in the run shortened game.
Getting it Done In Pairs From The Circle:
After not throwing a shutout all season, Notre Dame’s two starting pitchers of Brittney Bargar and Kenya Fuemmeler each threw a shutout against St. John’s on March 24. The consecutive shutouts thrown by the Irish pitching staff (Bargar and Fuemmeler), was the first time since May 14, 2006 (against Pittsburgh and No. 18 Louisville) in the BIG EAST Championship that this has occurred for Notre Dame softball. The two shutouts against the same team on the same day, was a first time since May 7, 2006 that Notre Dame softball has accomplished the feat. Those two shutouts ironically enough were also against St. John’s.
A Record Tying Performance:
The three doubles by Heather Johnson in the second game against Seton Hall (March 25) puts her among the all-time greats at Notre Dame. The only other Irish player to ever tally three doubles in a game was Sara Hayes against Missouri-Kansas City in 1992.
Bargar Named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week:
Sophomore Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week on March 27 for the first time this season and second time in her career. The Irish pitcher earns the award after she went 3-0 with three complete games, a shutout and 20 strikeouts in 20 innings from the circle in wins over IUPUI (6-1), St. John’s (8-0) and Seton Hall (2-1). Bargar was not the only Irish player to earn BIG EAST honors as teammate Heather Johnson was named to the league’s Honor Roll after hitting .538 (7-for-13) with five doubles and six RBI in Notre Dame’s five wins.
Home Opening Day:
Since the start of the program in 1989 and after this year’s game against IUPUI, the Irish are 22-11 on the home opening day of the season. In those 33 games, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents 123-59. The home opening day of March 22 was tied for the third earliest ever-opening date for Irish softball (behind 1992 and 2004).
The Places Notre Dame Softball Has Gone:
After six road trips, the Notre Dame softball team has already logged 12,436.9 miles on planes and buses this season to destinations.
A Tough Weekend:
The Irish had a difficult weekend against some of the toughest teams in collegiate softball at the annual Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.(March 15-17). Notre Dame finished with a 1-4 record. The bright spot on the week was freshman Christine Lux, who picking up the first three hits of her collegiate career including her first RBI. Among her three hits two were doubles. Notre Dame started the week falling to No. 2/4 Arizona State 3-0. Sophomore Brittney Bargar pitched well for the Irish only allowing three runs (two earned) to one of the most potent offenses in collegiate softball. The next game for the Irish was against a red hot Fresno State club, Notre Dame used a steady offense led by senior Gessica Hufnagle’s two hits and two RBI’s to defeat FSU 4-2. The following game against No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette was another battle in which Notre Dame came up on the short end, 4-2. Bargar pitched a great game setting a new career-high with 12 strikeouts against a team that had an overall team batting average of .290 with 36 home runs. The Irish took on another ranked team No. 8/8 Texas on the final day of the tournament (March 17). Once again the Irish hung with a tough opponent, but fell to the Longhorns 3-0. The Irish completed the tournament with a night game against Pacific (March 17). Notre Dame, playing its fourth game in a just over a day, were downed by the Tigers 8-0 in five innings. Sophomore Beth Northway and senior Carissa Jaquish picked up the two Irish hits in the loss.
The Long Beach Invitational:
The Irish split their two games in the Long Beach Invitational on March 11. Notre Dame started its day with a 10-2 victory over Eastern Kentucky. Stephanie Brown went three-for-five with two runs scored and two RBI. Beth Northway, Stephanie Mola and Sarah Smith all had two hit games against the Colonels. Kenya Fuemmeler had one of the better pitching performances of her career going the distance with one earned run allowed and eight strikeouts. In its second game of the tournament against No. 12 UCLA, Notre Dame lost 9-3. The Irish briefly held a 2-1 lead in the second inning, but just couldn’t overcome the ranked opponent. Mola had another hit and an RBI in the second game.
Notre Dame had a successful tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. despite battling the elements and changes in the schedule. The Irish showed early offense in scoring three runs in the first inning in a 4-1 win over Virginia (March 2). Erin Glasco came up with the big hit as she hit a double off the top of the wall to drive-in the game-winning runs. The Irish continued the trend of early offense in the second game of the day, March 2, against host school Jacksonville. Notre Dame scored four runs in the first and three more runs in the second inning on their way to a 7-2 victory over the Dolphins. Senior Kenya Fuemmeler threw a no-hitter for the first four innings for the Irish. The next day, rain altered the schedule forcing Notre Dame into a single game against the Cavaliers. The Irish fell behind 3-0 before rallying for a six spot in the fifth inning. The big blow of the game would be Glasco’s game-winning three-run home run. Notre Dame would win by the final margin of 6-3. The final day of the tournament was a challenging one against No. 9 Michigan. The Irish hung with the Wolverines for most of the game, but just couldn’t get the offense going in taking a tough 1-0 defeat to Michigan and finishing the tournament a respectable 3-1.
SEC/ACC Not So Bad:
With two wins over Virginia in the Crispers/JU Invitational (March 2-4), Notre Dame improved its record to 4-1 against schools from the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conference’s this season.
Coming Through When It Counts:
Erin Glasco has proven her worth in clutch situations, as she has already tallied three game-winning RBI hits, of her 18 hits this season.
Linda Kohan had a strong JU tournament, March 2-4, for Notre Dame. The sophomore went 5-for-12 (.417) with four RBI, two runs scored and four doubles.
Duo Honored By The BIG EAST:
For the second time this season, Notre Dame had a pair of players honored by the conference office on its weekly honor roll on March 6. Sophomore Brittney Bargar won two games in the Crispers/JU Invitational with an earned-run average of 0.75, while Linda Kohan tallied four doubles and four RBI and a .417 batting average in the four games.
The Palm Springs Tournament:
Notre Dame had a tough start to the Palm Springs Tournament, Feb. 23-25, taking on a pair of ranked opponents in the ultra competitive field. The Irish were competitive in both early games against No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 17 California but ultimately lost both games by the scores of 7-3 and 7-5, respectively. Notre Dame now on a four-game skid, rallied with two-outs in the seventh inning to tie their next game against UNLV on the two RBI single from sophomore Linda Kohan. Junior Katie Laing would make it a 4-3 Irish winner, as she punched a ball through the left side to drive in senior Carissa Jaquish in extra-innings. Despite a strong pitching performance from senior Kenya Fuemmeler, a complete game four-hitter, the Irish fell to Cal State Fullerton, 2-0, in their next game. Notre Dame would take its final game of the tournament, 3-1, over Ole Miss. Kohan would again provide the late-inning heroics with her two RBI single up the middle in the fifth.
Brown On The Right Track:
Senior Stephanie Brown had an outstanding tournament in Palm Springs, going 11-for-18 with five runs scored. Brown had multi-hit performances in four of the five games, while chipping in three stolen bases.
A Recap of the Tiger Invitational:
Notre Dame opened its 2007 season at the Tiger Invitational hosted by Auburn from Feb. 16-18. Notre Dame started the tournament with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over host school Auburn. Sophomore Erin Glasco came through with a single down the right-field line to drive in freshman Ashley Ellis from third for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Irish then fell to UAB 8-0 in a five inning run-shortened game. Another memorable Irish victory would follow, as once again Notre Dame came from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning. Freshman Heather Johnson would be that game’s hero with a two-run home run that propelled Notre Dame to a 6-5 victory over Tennessee Tech. Notre Dame softball would complete its weekend by dropping its final two games to Tulsa (4-2) and Virginia Tech (2-0). Johnson for her great play would be awarded a spot on the Tiger Invitational All-Tournament team after hitting .500 (8-for-16) in the five games.
Nice Start by the Rookie:
Heather Johnson made an immediate impact in her first week in the Irish lineup. Not only did the Los Alamitos, Calif. native start all five games at third base, she also had the most hits of any player in the Tiger Invitational Tournament, with eight, on her way to hitting .500 with a home run and four RBI. Johnson tallied multi-hit performances in three of the five games.
A Solid First Week:
Brittney Bargar also had a solid first week for Notre Dame in the circle. She won both of Notre Dame’s games while pitching three complete games. For week, Bargar was 2-1 with 24 strikeouts in 20.1 innings pitched. The sophomore also showed impeccable control with only two walks (one intentional) on the week.
A Pair Honored on BIG EAST Honor Roll:
Notre Dame had a pair of players on honored on the BIG EAST honor roll following the first two weekends of action around the conference, Feb. 19 in sophomore pitcher Brittney Bargar and freshman third baseman Heather Johnson.
Keeping up with the Irish:
Notre Dame’s softball family and friends can keep up with the Irish one of six ways this season. First, the Notre Dame hotline (1-574-631-3000) will be updated as soon as possible following each game. Two, a game recap will be posted on Notre Dame website (www.und.com) following each contest. Three, a text alert will be send out to those fans that wish to sign-up for the Irish text alerts on the Notre Dame website. Four, live audio broadcasts will be available for Irish home games. Fifth, Notre Dame will run GameTracker for selected road games (depending on the host institution) and all homes games at Ivy Field through its athletic website. And sixth, Notre Dame softball will have a weekly notes package that will be put out by Wednesdays of most weeks.
Notre Dame in Early Season Tournaments:
Notre Dame began what is now the collegiate softball tradition of early-season tournament action in 1990 when it took part in a Chicago, Ill. tournament. Since that trip, Notre Dame has visited 32 different areas of the country and participated in several elite tournaments. Notre Dame’s all-time record in early-season tournament action is 190-141 (.574) and its most frequent sites visited have been South Florida (seven times), Columbus, Ga. (six times) and Cal State Fullerton (five times). This season, Notre Dame will visit Auburn, Ala. (first time), Palm Springs, Calif. (third time), Jacksonville, Fla. (first time), Long Beach, Calif. (first time) and Cal State Fullerton once again.
Preseason Choice for Third in the BIG EAST:
The Irish were selected to finish third in the BIG EAST Conference for the 2007 season, in a vote by the leagues coaches. The Irish received a first-place vote and totaled 104 points to finish behind front-runner Louisville and South Florida. Notre Dame along with Louisville and USF were all selected for the 2006 NCAA Softball Championships.
Notre Dame will feature three captains this season for only the third time. The Irish captains will be seniors Stephanie Brown and Kenya Fuemmeler and junior Katie Laing. The only other Notre Dame teams to have a trio of captains are the 2003 squad (Alexis Madrid, Andria Bledsoe and Andrea Loman) and the 2002 team (Kas Hoag, Jenny Kriech and Jarrah Myers).
Gumpf In Her Sixth Season:
Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf is in her sixth season at the helm of the Notre Dame softball program. The Irish coach is 239-104 in her coaching career and has taken the Irish to five consecutive NCAA postseason berths.
Gumpf won her 200th career game in Notre Dame’s 14-4 victory over Pittsburgh on April 9 of the 2006 season.
At the start of the season, Gumpf career’s record of 219-90 (.708) was a single percentage better than former Irish head coach Liz Miller 377-156 (.707). She is also ahead of the first ever softball coach at Notre Dame, Brian Boulac 135-90-2 (.597).
A Generous Donation:
Notre Dame softball’s bid for a new facility took a huge step forward this offseason thanks to the generous donation by Linda and Paul Demo. The Demo’s pledged three million dollars for the building of the Melissa Cook Stadium. Cook, a former Irish softball player, was one of four people that were killed in March 2002 when a massive section of scaffolding fell from the John Hancock Center onto her car in downtown Chicago. The families of those who died and were injured reached a settlement in early 2006 with the skyscrapers owners and other companies named in the lawsuit. The Demo’s, the mother and stepfather of Melissa Cook, devoted much of their portion of the settlement to Notre Dame for the upcoming $4.8 million facility. The stadium will be built on the southeast corner of the Notre Dame campus near Eck Baseball Stadium and will hold 1,500 Irish softball fans.
On the Small Screen:
Notre Dame will make one scheduled appearance on the small screen this season as its first game of a the doubleheader against South Florida, April 22 at noon, will be shown by CSTV.
Notre Dame’s softball team, over the winter announced the signing of six players to national letters of intent to enroll at the University and play softball for head coach Deanna Gumpf in 2007-08.
Katie Fleury (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) is a power hitting shortstop that will provide excellent speed and versatility to the Notre Dame lineup. During her prep career, she has led Archbishop Mitty to Western Catholic League (WCAL) championships every season with a combined record of 73-19.
Shannon Kelly (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Hollywood Christian) is expected to be a power hitter and lethal producer in the class. As a junior, Kelly had a tremendous spring as she hit .647 with seven home runs, 40 runs scored and 78 runs batted in at the plate.
Brianna Jorgensborg (Thousand Oaks, Calif./La Reina), an outfielder, set three school records last season at La Reina with a batting average of .571, 49 RBIs and a sizzling on-base percentage of .652. She also had a slugging percentage of 1.114 to go along with 30 runs scored, eight home runs, and eight doubles.
Erin Marrone (Alexandria, Va./Bishop O’Connell) comes from a long lineage of former Notre Dame students as both her grandfathers (Paul Marrone and Frank Tighe) as well as her parents (Nicolas Marrone and Stephanie [Tighe] Marrone), along with five aunts and uncles graduated from the university. The Virginia native is a middle infielder who hit .469 with 46 hits in 98 at bats as a junior.
Sadie Pitzenberger (Tomball, Texas/Tomball) also is a very versatile player that was voted best catcher in 2004 and best shortstop in ’05 by her teammates. She has helped lead her Tomball High School team to three consecutive conference, regional and national rankings (11th-’04, 6th-’05, and 9th-’06). As a senior, the three-time team MVP has been voted the team captain. Pitzenberger has seen her batting average rise in each of her first three years with a high mark of .462 last season.
Jody Valdivia (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) is an accomplished pitcher that played club softball with current Irish freshman Heather Johnson on the California Cruisers. The hurler pitched the Cruisers to a third-place national finish in 2006. The future freshman was named the Century League Pitcher of the Year as she led the entire Orange County area in strikeouts last season with 302. She has also been voted team MVP for Canyon High School in each of her last two campaigns.
Milestones on the Horizon:
o Senior Stephanie Brown, after the eighth week of the 2007 season, is fourth (154) in runs scored at Notre Dame. Brown is also tied for fourth on the all-time hits list with 254 along with Meghan Murray (1994-97). Further, Brown is eighth on the all-time home runs list (19) only two behind Mallorie Lenn for seventh. Brown is also among the all-time leaders in walks (65-sixth), stolen bases (52-fifth) and at bats (708-eighth).
o Junior Katie Laing is eighth with her 41 career doubles only two behind Lizzy Lemire (1998-01) for seventh.
o Senior Gessica Hufnagle is tied for fourth in fielding percentage .981.
The Irish will have its last home games of the season at Ivy Field next week, April 23-25. Notre Dame will play against No. 7 Northwestern at 7 p.m. on April 24 before welcoming in UIC on April 25 at 6:30 p.m. Notre Dame will also host the BIG EAST Tournament this season at the Belleville Softball Complex, May 10-13.