Feb. 23, 2000
The 2000 Notre Dame softball team opened its season with a 4-1 record at the UNLV Softball Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The Irish posted wins over Portland State (5-3), Southern Utah (8-0), UC Santa Barbara (3-0) and Utah (2-1), but fell to Oregon (11-3). With its one loss, Notre Dame finished tied for second in the 16-team tournament with 12th-ranked California winning the title outright with a 5-0 record.
Tourney Notes: The Irish have matched the program’s best start through five games … the 4-1 record is equal to that of the 1995 and 1999 squads which both advanced to the NCAA regionals … game-winning RBIs went to Melanie Alkire (Southern Utah), Andrea Loman (UCSB) and Lizzy Lemire (Utah) …. game winning runs went to Sarah Kirkman (Portland State), Jennifer Kriech (Southern Utah) and Alkire (UCSB, Utah).
Plate Perfection: Tallying 41 hits (8.2 per game), Notre Dame had a number of players with perfect efforts at the plate. In the team’s first game, sophomore Jenny Kriech went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a RBI. Junior Melanie Alkire then accomplished the same feat versus Southern Utah, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI. Freshman Andria Bledsoe posted a career high on Saturday against UC Santa Barbara by recording four singles in her four at-bats.
Tough 2K: In the team’s 31 innings at-bat, the Irish have struck out only nine times in five games as opposed to their opponents who have struck out 35 times. Notre Dame’s strikeouts per seven innings is a meager 2.03 per game, while their opponents is 7.42 per game.
Moving On Up: In the first regular season USA Today/NFCA Coaches Division I Top 25 poll, released Wednesday, Feb.23, Notre Dame received the 35th-most votes with 13 Kincaid (3-3, 1.76 ERA) and Jennifer Bottoms (2-1, 2.55 ERA) have combined to allow just a little more than one and a half earned runs per game.
Overall, Arkansas has eight of its nine starters returning from the 1999 squad which went 46-29 and finished second in the SEC Conference Tournament.
The Cavaliers: Virginia travels to Arkansas after posting a 1-4 record at the UNLV Softball Classic last weekend. The Cavaliers, 1-6 overall, won their first game of the tournament versus Fordham, but then dropped their next four. So far Notre Dame and Virginia have played three common opponents in Portland State, UCSB and Utah, with the Irish tallying a 3-0 record and the Cavaliers an 0-3 record.
Under head coach Cheryl Sprangel, Virginia returns seven of nine starters from the 1999 squad which went 35-26. Catcher Britton Gore is first on the team in 2000 with a .375 batting average, while freshman infielder Ruby Rojas leads the team’s starters with a .318 mark. Pitchers Stacey Zagol (1-3) and Chrissy Quinn (0-3) have combined to start six of the team’s seven games.
The two schools have only faced each other once before, with the Irish grabbing a 5-2 win in 1996.
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 to the preseason team.
2000 BIG EAST Preseason Awards/Poll
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame
PRESEASON PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Jennifer Sharron, Notre Dame
|2000 Softball Preseason Coaches Poll||2000 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team|
|1. Notre Dame (8)||64||P||Mary Dietz, Boston College|
|2. Boston College (1)||53||P||*Jennifer Sharron, ND|
|3. Connecticut||47||C||Summer Jarratt, BC|
|4. Seton Hall||46||IF||Melanie Alkire, ND|
|5. Villanova||37||IF||Vicki Lamb, Seton Hall|
|6. Rutgers||31||IF||Jackie Pasquerella, Villanova|
|7. Providence||18||IF||Jessica Yanosy, Connecticut|
|8. Pittsburgh||17||OF||Mia Brickhouse, Villanova|
|9. St. John’s||11||OF||Lizzy Lemire, ND|
|OF||Jennifer Kriech, ND|
|U||Lauren Fischetti, Boston Coll.|
|DP||Megan Biddle, Connecticut|
Defensive Switch: The Irish are in for more moves on the defensive side of the diamond again in 2000. Head coach Liz Miller has new faces penned in for starting positions at first base, second base, third base and behind the plate. Freshmen Andrea Loman (first base) and Andria Bledsoe (third base) are set to occupy the corners, while sophomore Jarrah Myers moves from third base to catcher. Another freshman, Alexis Madrid, is expected to start at second base for the Irish in 2000.
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 two – one by Alkire against Southern Utah and one by freshman Andrea Loman in the UC Santa Barbara game.
Seniorless: For the second time in the program’s 12-year history, Notre Dame will be without a senior class. The Irish have five juniors, six sophomores and six freshmen on their 2000 roster. The only other time the team did not have any seniors was in 1990.
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.
Conrad Named Assistant Coach: Two-time first team All-American and former Michigan standout Traci Conrad has been named an assistant softball coach at Notre Dame. Conrad replaces Stephenie Henderson who took over the head coaching position at Loyola-Chicago.
Conrad, a native of Frankfort, Ill., will help coach the batters and infielders and assist Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller in all administrative aspects of the program.
Irish Sign pitcher, Outfielder for Class of 2004: Notre Dame head softball coach Liz Miller announced the signings November 17, 1999, of two high school seniors to national letters of intent. Pitcher Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) and outfielder Nicole deFau (Southington, Conn.) will make up Notre Dame’s class of 2004.
Schmidt, one of the top pitchers in the state of Texas for the past two years, was a first team All-American in 1999 and is a two-time all-state selection. A senior at North Shore Senior High School, Schmidt had a 19-1 record with 229 strikeouts, only two walks and a 0.05 earned-run average as a junior.
Schmidt also led her summer team, Texas Heat Gold, to a ninth-place finish at last summer’s Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Gold National Championships, earning second team all-tournament honors.
The team’s other signee, deFau, is a two time all-state honoree from Southington High School. The outfielder led Southington to the state championship her freshman and junior seasons, while the team was the state runners-up in 1998.
deFau played on the same summer team, the Wallingford Tradition, as current Notre Dame sophomore Kas Hoag. With the Tradition, deFau won the Pony National Championships in 1998 and 1999, leading the team in batting average with a .453 mark.
Head Coach Liz Miller: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller begins her eighth season at Notre Dame (280-136) and her 25th season overall (821-278). 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.
Div. I Preseason Poll
|Rank||Team (1st Pl. Vts.)||W-L||Votes||LR|
|19.||Long Beach State||7-5||179||15|
|25.||(tie) Oklahoma State||10-2||82||NR|
Others Receiving Votes: Texas (50), Hofstra (44), Missouri (44), Texas A&M (27), Florida Atlantic (19), Maryland (18), Florida State (17), Nevada-Las Vegas (16), Notre Dame (13), Pacific (13), Minnesota (12), Mississippi State (10), Central Michigan (7), Utah (7), Cal State Northridge (5). Six other schools were mentioned on just one ballot, which totaled 26 points.
Irish vs. This Weekend’s Opponents
1997: L, 5-6
1995: L, 1-6, L, 1-10
Arkansas: First meeting
1996: W, 5-2
Final UNLV Softball
|UC Santa Barbara||2-3|
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.
NOTRE DAME QUICK FACTS
1999 Record: 42-20 overall, 16-0 BIG EAST
1999 BIG EAST Tournament: 3-0, champion
1999 NCAA Region 6 Tourn. (#5 Seed): 2-1
Starters Returning/Lost: 7/2
Monogram Winners Ret./Lost: 10/4
2000 Team Captains: Danielle Klayman, Jennifer Sharron
Head Coach: Liz Miller (Western Mich. ’69)
Career Record: 817-277 (24 seasons)
Notre Dame Record: 276-135 (seven seasons)
Assistant Coaches: Deanna Gumpf, Traci Conrad and John Gumpf