Thursday, May 13, 2010

1. University of Notre Dame football juniors Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph have both been selected 2010 preseason first-team All-Americans by Lindy’s. Floyd and Rudolph are the only teammates selected to the first-team offense by the magazine. Notre Dame tied for the most first-team All-Americans with Georgia, Nebraska, Pittsburgh and UCLA.

A 6-3, 220-pound wide receiver from St. Paul, Minn., Floyd has averaged 84.1 receiving yards per game for his career, tops among all active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. He has totaled 92 receptions for 1,514 yards with 16 touchdowns in his career and has started 17 of 18 career games played. In 2009, Floyd started all seven games he played and he ranked second on the team with 44 catches for 795 yards and nine TDs. Last year Rudolph was the only sophomore named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, the trophy presented annually to college football’s top tight end. Of the eight Mackey Award semifinalists from 2009, only Rudolph returns this year. The Cincinnati, Ohio, junior has registered 62 receptions for 704 yards in his Irish career with five TDs and has started 22 of 23 career games played. He started nine of 10 games played in 2009 and ranked third on the team with 33 receptions for 364 yards and three TDs. Rudolph has also been named a preseason third-team All-American by NationalChamps.net.

2. Central Michigan plated six runs in the top of the fifth inning, in large part to Notre Dame¹s five walks and two errors, to grab a 7-2 lead and never looked back en route to a 12-2 victory over the Irish at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday night on the Notre Dame campus. Notre Dame dropped to 20-28, while the Chippewas improved to 27-19. Junior right-handed hurler Ryan Sharpley was tagged with the loss. He dropped to 0-1 on the year. He allowed three runs, all earned, on three walks in 0.1 innings of work. Senior first baseman Casey Martin did his part for Notre Dame. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI single. Junior shortstop Mick Doyle added his fourth home run of the season. Junior lefty Joe Spizzirri tossed a pair of scoreless innings of relief. In fact, he did not allow a hit. Spizzirri fanned one and walked one. Sophomore sidewinder Will Hudgins and senior right-handed pitcher Steven Mazur each blanked Central Michigan in 1.0 inning. Hudgins yielded a hit and fanned one, while Mazur struck out the side in the ninth. Senior David Mills, working on a pitch count, started for the Irish, tossed 2.0 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. Mills also fanned a pair without a walk.

3. Seven Notre Dame softball players earned all-BIG EAST Conference recognition and junior Jody Valdivia was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, as announced during the regular season league banquet Wednesday evening at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville. The seven honors matched Notre Dame’s 2009 post-season output and brought the program’s total to 100 all-conference honorees since joining the league in 1996.

Christine Lux, Katie Fleury, Alexa Maldonado and Valdivia were each named to the first team — while Dani Miller, Heather Johnson and Brianna Jorgensborg earned second-team nods. It was the first all-league citation for both Johnson and Maldonado, as the Irish roster now boasts eight players with at least one all-BIG EAST honor.

4. Carol Owens, who enjoyed tremendous success for 10 seasons as an assistant and associate women’s basketball coach at the University of Notre Dame, will fill that role once again, as she has been named associate coach for the Fighting Irish, head coach Muffet McGraw announced Wednesday. Owens fills the vacancy on McGraw’s staff created on April 14 when Angie Potthoff was named associate director for women’s basketball operations & technology. As was the case during her initial tenure at Notre Dame, Owens will focus on working with the Fighting Irish post players, while also assisting with the program’s nationally-ranked recruiting efforts (Notre Dame has attracted 14 consecutive Top 20 recruiting classes, something only two other schools can match).

Owens returns to Notre Dame following a five-year stint (2005-10) as head coach at her alma mater, Northern Illinois University. During her time in DeKalb, Owens’s teams showed exceptional growth, as she posted a higher career winning percentage (.449) than either of her two predecessors and became only the second coach in the program’s 42-year history (first in 28 seasons) to register double-digit victories every year she walked the sidelines at Northern Illinois.

5. Since the Irish men’s lacrosse team will be playing its first-round NCAA game Sunday at the same time commencement is happening back on campus, the team will hold its own Mass and graduation event Saturday at The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, N.J. Chuck Lennon, Notre Dame Alumni Association Executive Director, will preside and award the diploma’s on behalf of the University administration. The graduation speaker will be John Crowley, Notre Dame grad and resident of Princeton. John and his wife Aileen are the real-life central characters in the movie “Extraordinary Measures” that stars Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell. Other Irish athletes who miss commencement will be part of a Monday ceremony back on campus.

6. Even with commencement happening on campus at Notre Dame this weekend, it’s a busy weekend for athletics, with most of the competition away from home and much of it in the postseason variety:
— Softball plays in the BIG EAST Championships that begin today in Louisville (if the Irish advance, semifinals are 5:00 p.m. Friday and final at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, both on CBS College Sports)
— Women’s tennis plays host to the NCAA Championships, with a first-round match Friday against IPFW, then the winner playing Saturday against the Iowa-Boise State winner
— Men’s tennis heads to Champaign, Ill., for the NCAA Championships, with a first-round match Friday vs. Wisconsin, then the winner meeting the Illinois-Xavier winner on Saturday
— Women’s lacrosse heads to Evanston, Ill., for the NCAA Championships, for a first-round game Saturday against #2 seed Northwestern
— Men’s lacrosse heads to Princeton, N.J., for the NCAA Championships, for a Sunday first-round game against #6 seed Princeton (2:30 p.m. on ESPNU)
— Rowing heads to Oak Ridge, Tenn., this weekend for the South/Central Regatta
— Track and field competes in Louisville tomorrow in the Louisville Last Chance event
— Baseball heads to Villanova for singles games Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Monday, May 10, 2010

1. If you heard a sudden roar from the vicinity of Arlotta Stadium a little after 9:00 p.m. yesterday, that was just the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team reacting in its locker room to seeing its name come up during the NCAA men’s lacrosse selection show on ESPNU.

After a 15-minute delay to start the show due to the end of the UC Irvine-Cal Poly baseball game, the Irish found out they will face Princeton Sunday in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Championship in Princeton, N.J. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 2:30 p.m. (ET). Princeton is the tournament’s No. 6 seed, while the Irish are unseeded. Notre Dame will be making its 15th trip overall, and fifth straight, to the NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish are 5-14 all-time in NCAA play. Notre Dame was upended by Maryland, 7-3, during the first round of last season’s NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish and Tigers will be meeting for just the second time ever. Princeton captured a 6-4 victory over Notre Dame during the 1995 season in Baltimore, Md.

Notre Dame will bring a 7-6 record into Sunday’s contest. The Fighting Irish offense averages 9.46 goals per game, while the Notre Dame defense allows 8.08 goals per contest. Junior midfielder Zach Brenneman (East Hampton, N.Y.) leads the Irish in goals with 23, while his 12 assists tie him for the team lead with senior attackman Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.). Senior goalie Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) boasts a 6-4 record between the pipes. He has an 8.29 goals-against average and a .568 save percentage. Princeton is 11-4 this season and the Tigers are fresh off beating Cornell, 10-9 in overtime, yesterday in the title game of the Ivy League Tournament. The Tigers average 10.20 goals per game, while surrendering 8.73 per contest. Junior attackman Jack McBride boasts team-high totals in goals (33) and points (46), while senior attackman Rob Engelke has a team-best 21 assists. Sophomore Tyler Fiorito has every decision in goal. He has an 8.62 goals-against average with a .568 save percentage. Princeton fell to Cornell, 6-4, during the quarterfinal round of last season’s NCAA tournament.

Notre Dame and Princeton have two common opponents this season (Syracuse and Rutgers). The Irish fell to Syracuse, 12-6, while the Orange bested the Tigers, 13-4. Rutgers defeated Notre Dame 10-8 and Princeton downed the Scarlet Knights 10-8.

The winner of the Notre Dame-Princeton contest will take on the winner of the Maryland-Hofstra tilt in the quarterfinal round May 22 in Princeton, N.J. The tournament’s semifinals and finals will be held May 29 and 31, respectively, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

2. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team will make its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships when the Irish face the No. 2 ranked Northwestern Wildcats in opening-round action on Saturday. The game will be played at 1:00 p.m. (CDT) at Northwestern’s Lakeside Field. The Irish enter the tournament ranked 14th in IWLCA coaches’ poll and 13th in the Inside Lacrosse poll after turning in an 11-6 record in the regular season. Notre Dame is coming off a heart-breaking 12-11 loss in four overtimes to Syracuse in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Tournament Thursday in Piscataway, N.J.

Northwestern brings a 17-1 overall record into Saturday’s first-round game after capturing its sixth consecutive American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) title with a 23-14 win over Vanderbilt Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. The Wildcats have won five consecutive NCAA championships. This will be the 12th all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Northwestern and the third time the two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament (also in 2004 and 2008). The two teams met this season on March 30 in Evanston, Ill., with Northwestern taking a 15-5 decision at Lakeside Field. The victory gives the Wildcats nine consecutive wins against the Irish and a 9-2 all-time record against Notre Dame. The last Irish win in the series came on April 26, 2003. In the two NCAA appearances, both opening-round games, the Wildcats handed Notre Dame a 10-8 loss on May 13, 2004, at Lakeside Field and then took a 15-7 win on May 11, 2008, at Northwestern. This is Notre Dame’s sixth NCAA appearance and the third straight since the 2008 contest versus Northwestern. Notre Dame’s 11 wins this season marks the fifth consecutive year that the Irish have won 11 or more games in a season. Since the 2006 season, the Irish are 65-28 (.699).

3. The Notre Dame women’s golf team shot a 35-over par 323 in 2010 NCAA Central Regional third-round action at the Otter Creek Golf Course (par 72/6,416 yards) on Saturday afternoon in Columbus, Ind., to finish 17th. Sophomore Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) provided the final-round drama for the Irish, as she turned in back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes to move to two-over par on the day and threaten to take one of the Central Regional’s two individual qualifying positions for the NCAA championship.

After the consecutive birdies, Huffer notched a par at the 15th and bogeyed the 16th to stand at three-over par on the day and tied with Denver’s Kimberly Kim for the last qualifying spot. A par on 17 maintained the status quo, but Huffer got in trouble on the 18th when her second shot found the rough on the left side of the fairway. Her approach hit the green, but bounced into the rough beyond the hole and the sophomore was unable to get up and down in order to force a playoff. Huffer finished with a five-over par 77 on the day and at 15-over par for the tournament to tie for 16th. Huffer’s 16th-place showing marks the best finish by an Irish golfer in NCAA play, besting Noriko Nakazaki’s 2007 tie for 18th. In two seasons of regional play, Huffer has broken 80 five out of a possible six times.

Junior Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.) carded an 80 for Notre Dame’s second best score of the day. She finished tied for 65th at 25-over par (241). Her final day of play included a birdie on the 11th, eight pars and nine bogeys. Sophomore Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz.) and senior Julie Kim (Bayside, N.Y.) turned in final round 83s to round out the Notre Dame scoring. Allare’s final round included seven pars and 11 bogeys. She finished at 33-over par (249) to tie for 85th. Kim’s final round with the Irish was highlighted by a birdie on the third hole and an impressive up-and-down at the 17th. She also had eight pars, six bogeys and three doubles. At 37-over par (253) for the tournament, Kim finished tied for 96th. Senior Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) was disqualified midway through her final round with the Irish. On Sunday afternoon, she will graduate as one of the program’s all-time leaders in stroke average, rounds played, rounds counted and tournaments won.

USC captured the 2010 NCAA Central Regional title by firing a 43-over par 907 in the three days of action. Arizona State finished second at 51-over par. By virtue of also finishing in the top eight, Purdue, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Oregon and Kent State all join USC and Arizona State in advancing to the NCAA Championship, along with Georgia’s Marta Silva Zamora and Denver’s Kim. The NCAA Div. I Women’s Golf Championship will be held May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.

4. A decisive 10-run sixth inning capped off a 12-2 comeback softball win for No. 24 Notre Dame over St. John’s Sunday at Red Storm Field in Jamaica, N.Y. The BIG EAST Conference contest was tied 2-2 heading into the frame before the Irish scratched across the double-digit total on nine hits along with four RBI by Heather Johnson.

The win secured a share of the BIG EAST regular season crown for the Irish (44-9 overall, 18-3 BIG EAST). Notre Dame, the defending BIG EAST Tournament champions, will be the No. 2 seeded team heading into this season’s league tournament after dropping two games to co-champion DePaul in a league twinbill earlier this season. The Irish will face the to-be-determined No. 7 seed at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium. The regular season title is the 12th in 15 seasons for Notre Dame since joining the league and the first since 2006.
Kasey O’Connor tripled to start the sixth and Notre Dame loaded the bases once again for Johnson. Johnson came through this time with a two-RBI single up the middle to give Notre Dame the lead for good. Christine Lux tacked on an RBI-single to center — her 20th of the year in league play — which added to her BIG EAST record for career RBI achieved during game two of Saturday’s doubleheader. Brianna Jorgensborg cranked the first pitch she saw in the inning to center for a three-run homer to put Notre Dame ahead, 9-2, and O’Connor later added her second hit of the inning with a two-out single. Notre Dame sent 15 batters to the plate in the inning. O’Connor finished with a single, double and a triple while Fleury was a perfect 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Fleury was walked twice to find her way on base five times. Sadie Pitzenberger was 2-for-3 with two runs and Wright also scored twice for the Irish. Jody Valdivia (35-4) gave up seven hits and two earned runs with four strikeouts in 6.0 frames. Valdivia finished the league slate with a 16-1 record and 1.34 ERA.

Notre Dame escaped the first of two BIG EAST Conference softball games at St. John’s with a 6-3 win and followed with a 10-2, six-inning rout Saturday. Notre Dame hit five home runs in the doubleheader to set the program’s single-season school record by bringing the 2010 total to 70. With two home runs on the day, Heather Johnson also tied Christine Lux’s single-season school record with 16 round-trippers. The Irish scored seven unearned runs against the Red Storm, who committed four errors on the day.

5. West Virginia used a six-run eighth inning to blow open a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a three-game BIG EAST series sweep of Notre Dame, 10-3, at Hawley Field Sunday afternoon in Morgantown, W. Va. The Irish dropped to 20-27 overall and 8-13 in the conference, while the Mountaineers improved to 21-26 and 6-15.

West Virginia put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and most of the damage against the Irish was self induced. Notre Dame not only walked three and hit a batter, but one of the walks came on four straight pitches when Kevin Griffin was trying to sacrifice bunt. The Irish also chose to not field another sacrifice bunt attempt which stayed fair to load the bases. Colin Duborow then had an RBI single, Mark Dvoroznak had an RBI ground out and Grant Buckner was plunked with the bases loaded to push the lead to 7-3 before Justin McDavid followed with a bases-clearing double to close the scoring at 10-3. Irish senior Eric Maust was charged with the loss despite pitching well. The right-handed hurler (0-5) scattered nine hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings of work. Maust fanned five and walked two, one of which was intentional. Senior Ryan Connolly, freshman Frank Desico and junior Cameron McConnell paced the Notre Dame attack with two hits apiece. Connolly stroked his team-leading 11th home run of the season and second of the weekend. He also added a double.

Notre Dame returns to action against Bowling Green at 6:05 p.m. on tomorrow at Frank Eck Stadium on the Irish campus.

Notre Dame rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth inning to draw within a run, but West Virginia closer Chris Enourato got Irish junior designated hitter David Casey to ground out with the tying run on base as the Mountaineers held on for a 6-5 victory and secure a doubleheader sweep in BIG EAST baseball action from Hawley Field Saturday. The Mountaineers took the opener of the twin bill, 22-6.

6. Former Notre Dame men’s basketball standout Orlando Woolridge will be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame June 26 in Natchitoches, La.

7. Former Notre Dame baseball and basketball player Frank Gilhooley will be honored Sunday by the Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A baseball affiliate of Detroit Tigers) on “Frank Gilhooley Day” at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. The Mud Hens will pay tribute to Gilhooley’s more than 50 years in television and radio broadcasting. He has been part of the Mud Hens’ radio broadcasts since 1987. Originally from Toledo, Gilhooley earned two monograms as a basketball guard for the Irish from 1944-46, while also playing centerfield in baseball.

Friday, May 7, 2010

1. The Notre Dame women’s golf team opened 2010 NCAA Central Regional play yesterday at the Otter Creek Golf Course (par 72/6,416 yards) in Columbus, Ind., by shooting a 40-over par 328. The Fighting Irish were led by sophomore Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.), who fired a three-over par 75. Huffer enters the second round of play tied for 16th, while the Irish are tied for 20th with North Carolina State.
Huffer played the front nine at even-par (36) before giving a few shots back on her back nine, which she played at three-over par (39). Her day included birdies on the third, seventh and 15th holes. She also had nine pars, four bogeys but was hurt by a double bogey on the 17th. After playing in last season’s NCAA Central Regional, Huffer has completed four rounds of NCAA play in her Irish career and now carries a 76.25 stroke average in NCAA play.

Starting at the No. 4 position, junior Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.) carded a 10-over par 82 for Notre Dame’s second best score of the first round. Her day was highlighted by a birdie on the 17th. She also had eight pars, seven bogeys and two doubles. Making her third consecutive NCAA Central Regional appearance, senior captain Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) turned in a 13-over par 85 that included nine pars, five bogeys and four doubles. Playing in her second consecutive tournament as a member of the starting five, sophomore Katie Allare (Phoenix, Ariz.) shot a 14-over par 86 to round out the scoring for the Irish. Conway notched seven pars, eight bogeys and three doubles. Senior Julie Kim (Bayside, N.Y.), appearing as a member of the starting five for the first time since the 2009 Central Regional, announced her return with a birdie on the first hole. But her play from there was up and down as she finished with a 15-over par (87) total that included two birdies, five pars, six bogeys and four doubles and a triple.

Through one round of play, Arizona State leads the Central Regional field at nine-over par. USC is second with an 11-over par total. The eight lowest scoring teams at the Central Regional, as well as the two lowest scoring individuals on non-advancing teams will qualify for the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship. The championship will be held May 18-21 at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.

2. Syracuse senior midfielder Christina Dove scored her third goal of the game with 2:02 left in the fourth overtime to give the Orange a 12-11 win over Notre Dame in the BIG EAST women’s lacrosse semifinals at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field late last night in Piscataway, N.J. The goal capped an exciting, well-played game that lasted 72:58, the longest game in the history of the Irish program and the longest game ever played in the BIG EAST Tournament.

Notre Dame was led offensively by senior attack Gina Scioscia who scored four goals in the first half and added an assist for a five-point night. Junior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney added four goals, while Megan Sullivan scored a pair and Kailene Abt added a single goal in the loss. The overtime game was the fourth of the season for the Irish who are now 2-2 in extra time. The one-goal loss was the eighth game of the year for Notre Dame to be decided by one goal and the Irish are 5-3 in those contests. Notre Dame had played in the previous longest game in BIG EAST history when the Irish lost to Georgetown, 15-14, in three overtimes (71:14) in the 2008 Tournament. The loss drops the Irish to 11-6 on the season and they will now wait to see if they have done enough to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The bids come out on Sunday night at 10 p.m.

3. Former Irish football players and brothers Bob, Mike and Greg Golic were all live this morning on location in their hometown of Cleveland for the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show on ESPN Radio.

4. With final exams concluding today on the Irish campus, Notre Dame plays three softball games over the weekend at St. John’s and three baseball games at West Virginia – and the Irish track teams head to Ann Arbor for the Michigan Invitational today and tomorrow.

5. Sporting News released its all-spring football team – “players who helped themselves through their teams’ 15 practices” – and it included current freshman Irish running back Cierre Wood.

Thursday, May 5, 2010

1. Five members of the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team were named to the BIG EAST all-conference first and second team Wednesday night at the season-ending awards banquet held at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick in New Brunswick, N.J. Three members of the team — junior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney (Stony Brook, N.Y.), defender Jackie Doherty (Jr., Ellicott City, Md.) and senior attack Gina Scioscia (Summit, N.J.) — were selected first-team all-BIG EAST. They were joined on the second team by junior midfielder Kailene Abt (Huntington, N.Y.) and defender Rachel Guerrera (Sr., Wantagh, N.Y.). Blaney, Scioscia and Guerrera were all preseason all-BIG EAST selections in February.

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s tennis player Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.) has earned an at-large bid to compete in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship, May 26-31, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. Watt was one of 48 players to earn an at-large bid. Watt, currently 53rd in the ITA/Campbell singles rankings, has amassed a 20-18 overall record in the 2009-10 season and a 9-16 mark when lining up at No. 1 singles in dual season play. Six of his nine wins came against ranked opponents. The sophomore was also named all-BIG EAST for the second consecutive season.

3. Sophomore Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) and senior Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan.) have been selected to compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships May 26-31 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. Frilling earned the BIG EAST’s automatic singles bid and a 9-16 seed, while she and Krisik were awarded the league’s automatic doubles selection and were tabbed the No. 3 seed overall. This will be Frilling’s second straight appearance in both the singles and doubles tournament. Krisik will compete in her first NCAA individual championship. Frilling is the first Irish player to enter the singles tournament as one of the top 16 seeds since Michelle Dasso earned the No. 4 seed in 2001. Frilling is ranked 16th in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll with a 19-5 record at No. 1 singles. She was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year and earned all-conference honors after totaling 14 wins over ranked opponents this season. Last season, Frilling advanced to the second round of the both the singles and doubles championships. Frilling and Krisik are the nation’s third-ranked doubles team and are a perfect 21-0 in dual matches in 2010. Krisik was named the BIG EAST Championship’s Most Outstanding Player after leading the Irish to their third straight conference title and earned all-conference honors for the second consecutive season.

4. Senior first baseman Christine Lux was named first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V for the second time in as many years while sophomore Dani Miller was named to the second team, as announced today by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). A native of Glendale Heights, Ill., Lux ranks 14th nationally with 16 home runs in 2010, a mark that broke Notre Dame’s single-season record which she set in 2008 and 2009 (15). In fact, the accounting major is coming off a 4-for-4 day against Wisconsin (April 29) in her home finale with two home runs – including a grand slam – while tying a program record with seven RBI. Lux is also 15th nationally with slugging percentage of .837. Miller is a pre-professional studies major with a 3.31 grade-point average from Huntington Beach, Calif. The only freshman named first-team all-BIG EAST in 2009, Miller, a second baseman, is also the only Irish infielder without an error in 2010 (43 putouts, 24 assists). She has two three-RBI performances this season and a four-RBI output against Valparaiso (April 21). Miller has nine home runs, five doubles and a triple this season while batting .333 through 45 games. Voting for the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Team was conducted by CoSIDA members in that district, which encompasses Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario. To qualify, student-athletes must hold at least sophomore status, own a minimum GPA of 3.3 or better, and be either a starter or key reserve for their team. Those student-athletes who earn first-team citations are eligible for Academic All-America honors as members of the national ballot.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

1. Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly will be honored at a benefit dinner for Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Saturday in Washington, D.C. Kelly was selected by the charitable organization based on his exceptional leadership and involvement with the foundation’s “Adopt-A-Child” program. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is a non-profit organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families. Through the “Adopt-A-Child” program, Friends of Jaclyn creates lasting relationships between children battling pediatric brain tumors and collegiate athletic teams. The child becomes an honorary team member, gaining a new group of friends, and the team gets inspiration from the child. Friends of Jaclyn’s programs are based on love, support and friendship between the child, the child’s family and his or her “adopted” team.

Kelly participated in the program in 2009 as head coach at the University of Cincinnati. The Bearcats adopted Mitch Stone, a 12-year-old boy battling a pediatric brain tumor. A Cincinnati native who was in the sixth grade at Maddux Elementary School when the Bearcats adopted Stone became as much a member of the Cincinnati football team as any of the players. The Bearcats became the first NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision team to adopt a child through Friends of Jaclyn.

2. The sixth-ranked Irish women’s tennis team has been tabbed the No. 5 overall seed and will play host to the first and second rounds of the 2010 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship, the NCAA selection committee announced yesterday. First-round action begins May 14 at the Courtney Tennis Center with Iowa and Boise State facing off, while the Irish meet IPFW. The winners of both matches will meet in the second round on May 15. Notre Dame will make its 15th consecutive and 17th overall appearance in the NCAA Championship. The Irish earned the BIG EAST Conference’s automatic bid after winning their third straight league title on April 25. Notre Dame has reached the NCAA Round of 16 on seven occasions and advanced to the quarterfinals in 1996, 2006 and 2007. Last season, the Irish reached the semifinals for the first time in program history. The Courtney Tennis Center will play host to NCAA women’s tournament action for the fourth time in five years, after being the national site in 1998 and an early-round venue in 1997, ’99, 2000, ’01, ’06, ’07 and ’09. Notre Dame holds a 12-2 home record in NCAA play, including a 10-0 mark since 2000. The Irish are ranked sixth in the country with a 22-3 record. Notre Dame has won seven straight matches, outscoring opponents 36-5 during that span. The Irish’s only losses this season came at the hands of top-seeded Baylor, second-seeded North Carolina and 10th-seeded Duke. The NCAA Championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 31 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 33 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take play May 14-15 at 16 campus sites. The later rounds of the single-elimination tournament will be held in Athens, Ga., May 20-31.

3. The Notre Dame men’s tennis team has earned an at-large berth into the 64-team 2010 NCAA Championship field it was announced by the NCAA men’s tennis selection committee on Tuesday evening. At a time to be determined, the Irish will face Wisconsin on May 14 in Champaign, Ill. Led by head coach Bobby Bayliss, the Irish have now been selected to play in 19 of the last 20 NCAA team championship draws. Illinois, which is serving as the host site, will play Xavier in the site’s other first-round match. The winners will then square off the following day for the right to advance to the NCAA Championship round of 16. For the 11th consecutive year, the NCAA men’s tennis championship features a field of 64 teams, consisting of 31 automatic-qualifying conference champions and 33 at-large selections. The first and second rounds will take place on May 14-16 at 16 campus sites. The winner of the second-round matches at each site will advance to Athens, Ga., as the University of Georgia will play host to the final four rounds of the team tournament as well as the national championship draws for singles and doubles play from May 20-31. Notre Dame, ranked 41st at the time, and Wisconsin previously played this season Feb. 28 in Notre Dame, Ind., with the Irish earning a 4-3 win on that day. The match was played indoors at the Eck Tennis Pavilion. Notre Dame has reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Championships on seven occasions, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 1992 and a 1993 quarterfinal result. The Irish lost in the opening round in 2004, ’05, ’08 and ’09, but reached the round of 16 in 2006 and ’07. Overall the Irish are 16-18 in NCAA tournament play including a 6-13 mark on neutral courts and a 3-1 record against teams playing on their home court.

4. Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has been named new chairman of the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee.

5. Irish football coach Brian Kelly was in Indianapolis Monday night speaking to the Notre Dame Club of Indianapolis.

6. Irish football seniors Mike Anello, Raeshon McNeil and Scott Smith have been named 2010 members of the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society, comprised of college football players (starters and key reserves in their final years of eligibility) who earned 3.2 cumulative grade-point averages through their entire undergraduate careers. In 2010, 620 players from 246 schools (all NCAA divisions) qualified for membership in the fourth year of the program.

7. Former Notre Dame provost Nathan Hatch, now president at Wake Forest University, has been named to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors for a three-year term.

Monday, May 3, 2010

1. Remarks from both new Irish football coach Brian Kelly and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick highlighted the 52nd annual Rockne Athletic Banquet Friday night at the Chicago Hilton and sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Chicago. A packed ballroom of approximately 1,500 guests attended the dinner.

Swarbrick first took part in a Q&A session with WNDU sports director Jeff Jeffers, beginning by suggesting that, though most Irish fans “live and die with the outcomes” of athletic events, he’s inclined to “live and die with the experience of our student-athletes.” He noted the best (and maybe worst) of that as he viewed the locker room scenes after both Irish basketball teams fell in the NCAA Championships in 2010 (men in New Orleans, women in Kansas City) and noted it’s the “best affirmation of why we do this.”

Here’s what Swarbrick had to say on a variety of other topics:

— On conference realignment: “It is going to happen. There will be realignment. We will find out soon.” Swarbrick says he consistently makes three points on this topic. One, independence in football is critical to who Notre Dame is as a university. Two, the BIG EAST is a great partner for Notre Dame, and it’s the best basketball conference in America. Three, Notre Dame will monitor what happens and watch what is a “very dynamic environment.”

— On the hiring of Brian Kelly: “It was the best ten days I’ve had in the job. It restored my faith in football in this country.” He said he went completely “off the grid,” traveling under an alias and making his own plane reservations. He said his own senior staff had no idea where he was, nor did his wife know (said Swarbrick with a smile, “The difference was, she didn’t care”). Swarbrick said he told the candidates, “If your name leaks, it’s because you leaked it.” He said of all the media reporting that took place in that 10-day period, some of it was close to accurate, but, at the end of the day, “not a word was factual.”

— On expectations for 2010: Swarbrick kiddingly suggested 13-0 was reasonable. “Every season unfolds in different ways. We will play incredibly hard, we will represent the University in the best possible way, and whatever happens happens,” he said.

— On football scheduling: “There are so many things to balance – our traditional rivalries, the interests of our team, the interests of our television partner, the interest in playing more home games and playing some off-site home games. We have a coach who says line ’em up and play ’em.” Swarbrick suggested future seasons may produce as many or more 6-5-1 years than 7-4-1 years, noting, for one, it’s easier to find the opposition to make those numbers work.

— On athletic facilities: Swarbrick talked about the University decision to build a stand-alone hockey facility as a by-product of, one, wanting to reflect the excellence of the University; two, reflecting the excellence of the program (with Swarbrick calling Jeff Jackson “the best hockey coach in America”), and three, the interest in having athletic facilities that reach out to others. The second sheet of ice, an Olympic-sized rink, said Swarbrick, will help “bridge the gap for young people to experience Notre Dame.”

— On Olympic sports expectations: Swarbrick said, “It’s about the quality of the experience.” He said he and his staff and coaches engage in annual planning to discuss, sport by sport, “what it takes to win a national championship.”

— On the future of the NCAA: Swarbrick said the late Myles Brand insisted that the presidents take control of college athletics,” and Brand also instituted the GSR and APR as academic measures to indicate which schools are “fully committed to the academic model.”

— On future initiatives: Swarbrick talked about three – 1) meeting the performance needs of the student-athletes through establishment of a new sports performance division, 2) reaching out to more former student-athletes (via the Monogram Club and other programs) – and 3) utilizing technology in terms of broadcast options to deliver better information on and access to Notre Dame athletic programs.

Just before the dinner began, Kelly had a chance to visit with former Irish football coach and all-star player Terry Brennan. Among other former Irish players seen at the event included Tony Rice, Tony Furjanic, John Scully, Tom Thayer, Emmett Mosley, Pat Terrell and Pat Eilers.
Scully played piano for two of the songs he has authored (with his daughter Britt singing) – his most recent offering “Our Lady of the Lake” as well as standby “Here Come the Irish.” Scully said his newest song came as he was walking around the lakes on campus with his wife Annette and a passer-by, observing the tranquil scene, said to Scully, “Is that good enough for a song?” Scully also said he wrote the lyrics to “Here Come the Irish” as he was driving from his home in Joliet, Ill., to partner Jim Tulio’s recording studio in Winnetka, Ill.

In introducing Kelly, Swarbrick said in making the coaching hire, he looked at three elements – first, the tradition and history at Notre Dame and who had succeeded in that environment; second, the characteristics of great coaches; and the third involved sitting down with current football players and asking them what they looked for in a coach. Swarbrick said he ended up with a list of 15 items that a prospective head coach had to have. He ended up with 18 candidates and actually talked to nine of those 18. Said Swarbrick, “Everything led back to the same place.”

Kelly talked about the three elements of the dinner also representing his team: service, passion and the spirit of Notre Dame. He added, “I recognize my end of the deal. We have to live up to the things exhibited here tonight.” Kelly called Notre Dame football a “blue-chip stock that has fallen on tough times. It’s time to display what we’re really about.” He talked about Chicago being the “heart of our recruiting area” when it came to finding RKGs (right kind of guys). Said Kelly, “I get it. We’re here to win football games and we’re here to develop young men.” He ended by saying he subscribed to the notion of “triple-A scheduling – anyone, anywhere, anytime.”

2. Final exams began today and go through Friday for Notre Dame students, so there’s limited activity on the athletic front until the weekend. The Irish women’s lacrosse team plays a BIG EAST semifinal game Thursday (at Rutgers), and the Irish women’s golf team opens NCAA regional play Thursday as well (in Columbus, Ind.).

3. Despite battling a rain-soaked stadium and unfavorable weather conditions, the Notre Dame men’s track and field team won its third straight BIG EAST Outdoor Championship yesterday at Gettler Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. Entering the final day of competition in fourth place, the Irish racked up two individual titles and six all-BIG EAST honors to climb the leaderboard and bring home their sixth outdoor title in the last eight years. Senior Daniel Clark won the men’s 1500 meters, while sophomore Kevin Schipper was the top men’s pole vaulter. The 4×800-meter relay team of Blake Choplin, Kevin Labus, Jim Notwell and Jack Howard finished second to earn all-league recognition. Greg Davis and Mitchell Gormley took the second and third spots, respectively, in the hammer throw, while Howard also finished third in the 800 meters to garner his second all-conference nod of the day. Notre Dame finished with 123 total points, cruising past Louisville in second with 114 and Rutgers in third with 112 points. Connecticut and Georgetown rounded out the top five. For their efforts, head coach Joe Piane and his staff earned BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year honors.

The Irish women finished sixth with 62.50 points. Louisville won the women’s crown with 108 points, followed by Connecticut in second at 101 and Georgetown in third with 86 points. West Virginia finished fourth with 68 points, and Villanova was fifth at 67.50. Notre Dame got a stellar performance from senior Joanna Schultz, who set a BIG EAST Championship record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. Schultz won her fourth conference title and Notre Dame’s first ever hurdle crown with a time of 56.82, setting the Irish and Gettler Stadium records, as well. The women’s 4×400-meter relay team of Samantha Williams, Schultz, Natalie Johnson and Maddie Buttinger earned all-BIG EAST honors with a second-place time of 3:44.39. The 4×800-meter team of Abby Higgins, Kelly Langhans, Allison Schroeder and Rebecca Tracy clocked in at 8:53.47 to finish fifth and set a Notre Dame record.

The Irish have no time to celebrate their success, however, as they travel to the Michigan Invitational May 7-8 in Ann Arbor.

Junior Denes Veres won the men’s shot put crown with an Irish record throw and six Notre Dame student-athletes earned all-conference honors Saturday. Veres won his first conference title and third all-BIG EAST honor. Justin Schneider garnered all-league accolades for a second-place decathlon finish, John Belcher finished third in the men’s shot put and Eric Quick added another conference honor with a second-place showing the men’s long jump. On the women’s side, Buttinger finished second in the heptathlon, and Jaclyn Espinoza was third.

4. St. John’s third baseman Greg Hopkins went 4-for-5 and added nine assists from the hot corner as the Red Storm knocked off Notre Dame, 9-4, in the rubber game of their BIG EAST series with the Irish yesterday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. St. John’s improved to 29-13 overall and 12-6 in the conference, while Notre Dame dropped to 20-24 and 8-10. Red Storm starting pitcher Matt Carasiti picked up the victory and improved to 6-2 on the season. The right-handed hurler was not overpowering, but stifled the Irish over 5.1 innings of work. Carasiti yielded three runs, two earned, on six hits. He fanned a pair and walked one, but induced 10 ground outs, including six to third base alone. Notre Dame senior Eric Maust was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-4. The righty surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on eight hits in 4.0 innings of work. He issued one walk and did not register a strikeout. Freshman second baseman Frank Desico and junior shortstop Mick Doyle each had two hits. DeSico went 2-for-5 with an RBI single, while Doyle went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and RBI. Notre Dame has the next five days off for final exams. The Irish return to action with a doubleheader against West Virginia at 2 p.m. Saturday at Hawley Field in Morgantown, W.Va.

St. John’s freshman Kyle Hansen, younger brother of current Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Craig Hansen, struck out nine in 7.2 innings as the Red Storm defeated Notre Dame, 8-1, Saturday. Hansen, the reigning BIG EAST pitcher of the week, limited the Irish to one run on four hits. Hansen surrendered a leadoff home run to senior left fielder Ryan Connolly in the bottom of the first inning, but he silenced Notre Dame the rest of the way. In fact, Hansen allowed only six base runners before being pulled after a liner deflected off his ankle with two outs in the eighth inning. He retired seven of the last eight Irish batters he faced. Connolly provided the only offense for Notre Dame with his solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Connolly hammered a 1-0 fast ball over the left centerfield wall for his ninth home run of the season to tie the score, 1-1. The senior has now led off three games this season with home runs.

Notre Dame senior Brayden Ashdown drilled a pair of home runs as the Irish had six different players with at least two hits en route to a 14-5 rout of St. John’s in the BIG EAST series opener Friday night at Frank Eck Stadium. Junior Brian Dupra picked up the victory and improved to 4-2 on the year with 8.0 solid innings. The right-handed hurler has now worked into the eighth inning in each of his last two starts. Dupra did allow five earned runs on nine hits, two of which came on a two-out, two-run double in the eighth. He struck out a pair and walked one. Ashdown went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI, in addition to the two round trippers. He is the first Irish player with a multi-home run game in 2010. Desico equalled his career high with four hits. He went 4-for-6 with a run scored and two RBI. Senior first baseman Casey Martin, senior right fielder Billy Boockford, senior designated hitter David Mills and junior third baseman Greg Sherry all chipped in with two hits apiece. Mills drove in three and scored two runs. Sherry scored two runs and drove in one, while Martin added a two-run double and Boockford scored two runs.

5. Senior Gina Scioscia, sophomore Maggie Tamasitis and freshman Jenny Granger combined for 10 of Notre Dame’s 16 goals as the Irish handed the University of Connecticut a 16-9 loss in the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at the George Sherman Family Sports Complex on the Connecticut campus. Scioscia, an all-BIG EAST and All-America candidate paced the Irish with seven points (4g, 3a) while Tamasitis added four (3g, 1a). Granger scored three times with Ansley Stewart adding a pair and Shaylyn Blaney, Kailene Abt, Jackie Doherty and Megan Sullivan getting single goals in the win. Scioscia has now scored in 35 consecutive games, dating back to last season and has 83 goals and 60 assists for 143 points in the run. The win gives 14th-ranked Notre Dame an 11-5 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the BIG EAST. Connecticut finishes its season with a 9-8 record and a 2-6 mark in the conference. Coming off a tough, 12-11 overtime loss, at Rutgers on April 24, the Irish got off to a strong start versus the Huskies, getting the first three goals of the game on the way to a 9-4 halftime lead.

6. The tournament field and game times have been set for the 2010 BIG EAST women’s lacrosse championships to be held on Thursday and Saturday at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. Notre Dame (11-5, 6-2) will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face No. 3 Syracuse (12-5, 6-2) in the second game of the semifinals, 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday. Despite finishing in a tie for second place with the Orange, the Irish receive the No. 2 seed due to their head-to-head win over Syracuse on April 11, a 6-5 victory at Arlotta Stadium. The Georgetown Hoyas (11-5, 8-0) captured the BIG EAST regular-season title Saturday with a 10-9 win at Syracuse. They will face the No. 4 seed, Loyola (11-6, 5-3) in the opening semifinal game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The championship game will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday. CBS College Sports will carry all three games live.

7. A four-goal effort from Stephen Keogh propelled No. 2 Syracuse to a 12-6 win over 12th-ranked Notre Dame in BIG EAST men’s lacrosse action on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,063 fans at Arlotta Stadium on the Notre Dame campus. The Fighting Irish conclude the regular season with a 7-6 overall record, including a 2-4 mark in BIG EAST play. Selections for the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship will be revealed on Sunday, May 9. Notre Dame used six different goal scorers in the contest. Sophomore attackman Nicholas Beattie (Columbus, Ohio) had a team-high three points on one goal and two assists. The crowd was the largest ever to witness a Notre Dame men’s lacrosse game at home. Syracuse (12-1, 5-0) led 5-0 after the first quarter, but Notre Dame put a halt to the Orange surge by scoring four straight goals, including the game’s only two tallies of the second quarter. Goals from seniors Grant Krebs (Annapolis, Md.) and Neal Hicks (Atlanta, Ga.) put Notre Dame back to within one score (7-6) with just over three minutes left in the quarter. Syracuse scored the game’s final five goals, including three man-up tallies. Notre Dame senior Scott Rodgers (Wantagh, N.Y.) had nine stops. The Irish outshot the Orange 32-30.

8. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Friday will induct five new members into its Hall of Fame, as part of the NJCAA Men’s Invitational Lacrosse Championship Weekend – including former Notre Dame men’s lacrosse coach Rich O’Leary. Director of intramurals and club sports at Notre Dame, O’Leary was a 37-year member of the university’s athletics administration. He became the first Irish varsity men’s lacrosse coach, handling that assignment for eight years from 1981 through 1988 following 10 seasons (1971-80) as the Irish club lacrosse head coach (79-53 record). A longtime respected member of the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) and Indiana Recreational Sports Association (IRSA), O’Leary assisted in hosting numerous state and regional workshops.
Former Notre Dame men’s lacrosse players held a reunion over the weekend in conjunction with the Irish home finale against second-ranked Syracuse Saturday night (marking the first time the Orange had ever played in South Bend). As part of the weekend agenda, more than 50 people attended a Saturday morning Mass at Dillon Hall in memory of former Notre Dame lacrosse coach and Irish RecSports administrator Rich O’Leary, who passed away last July. Former lacrosse players contributed to dedication of a tree adjacent to Alumni Hall in O’Leary’s name. The plaque reads, “In Memory of Rich O’Leary – Coach, Mentor and Friend – From the HouNDs Alumni Lacrosse Team.” Rich’s wife, Linda, and their four children attended the ceremonies.

9. Just days after winning its third straight and 10th overall BIG EAST title, the Irish women’s tennis team was rewarded with all-conference awards Friday, sweeping the top three honors. Sophomore Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) was named the league’s Player of the Year, while freshman Chrissie McGaffigan (Davenport, Iowa) earned Freshman of the Year honors. Head coach Jay Louderback was tabbed the BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his career. Notre Dame also had five student-athletes named to the all-BIG EAST team. Joining Frilling and McGaffigan on the team were seniors Kali Krisik (Arkansas City, Kan.) and Cosmina Ciobanu (Brea, Calif.) and sophomore Shannon Mathews (Birmingham, Mich.). The Irish earned the BIG EAST’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championships and are in the running to host first- and second-round action for the second straight year. The NCAA Division I Tennis Championships Selection Show is scheduled to reveal the 2010 field and locations between 5 and 6 p.m. tomorrow on ESPNEWS.

10. Notre Dame men’s tennis players Casey Watt (Gibsonia, Pa.), Stephen Havens (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Daniel Stahl (Bethesda, Md.) were named to the 2010 All-BIG EAST team it was announced by the conference on Friday afternoon. Watt, a sophomore, has now earned All-BIG EAST honors in his first two seasons with the Irish. Havens, a junior, has been named an All-BIG EAST selection for the first time in his career, while Stahl, a junior, earns his second career honor. Stahl was previously named to the BIG EAST all-tournament team as a freshman before the conference switched its current format of selecting a team based on complete season results. Watt, Havens, Stahl and the Irish have made a strong case to join the NCAA Championship field for the 19th time in the past 20 seasons by virtue of an at large bid. The NCAA Division I Tennis Championships Selection Show is scheduled to reveal the 2010 field between 5 and 6 p.m. tomorrow on ESPNEWS.

11. Notre Dame golfers Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif.), Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill.) and Tom Usher (Bradford, England) have been named to the 2010 All-BIG EAST Men’s Golf Team it was announced by the conference Friday evening. Fortner, who was one of four unanimous selections, and Scodro earned the honor for the second consecutive season, while Usher is making his first appearance on the all-conference team. For the second time since the BIG EAST began awarding all-conference status in 1999, the all-BIG EAST squad was chosen through a vote of the conference coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own players. The Irish were one of five programs with multiple honorees and the only program to see three team members earn all-BIG EAST honors.

12. Notre Dame senior golfer Annie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.), sophomore Becca Huffer (Denver, Colo.) and junior Katie Conway (Wading River, N.Y.) have been named to the 2010 All-BIG EAST Women’s Golf Team it was announced by the conference Friday evening. Brophy and Huffer have the added distinction of being two of the six unanimous selections to the 12-person team. For Brophy, it marked her fourth selection to the all-BIG EAST team and she is now just the second player in program history to earn all-BIG EAST accolades four times, joining Noriko Nakazaki, a 2007 graduate, in that exclusive club. Huffer could be on pace to join Brophy and Nakazaki in that club as well, having now earned all-BIG EAST honors in her first two seasons with the Irish. 2010 marks Conway’s first all-BIG EAST honor. Prior to last season, the BIG EAST honored an all-tournament team based on top-10 finishes at the conference championship tournament, but the format was switched to an all-BIG EAST team for the 2009 season. The league’s coaches now vote for the player of the year, the freshman of the year and the coach of the year, as well as for the all-BIG EAST team.

13. Senior Christine Lux’s final regular season game at Melissa Cook Stadium nearly yielded the same results as her final regular season game at Ivy Field in 2008. Lux went 4-for-4 with two home runs – including a grand slam – and tied a program record with seven RBI in an 11-3 rout of Wisconsin in five innings Thursday afternoon. With the two round trippers against the Badgers, Lux became the program’s single-season leader with 16 home runs, breaking the record of 15 she set in 2008 and 2009. The seven RBI tied a record Lux shares with Megan Ruthrauff. Lux last accounted for seven RBI in a five-inning win over Eastern Michigan in 2008, the final Irish softball game before closing the door on their former facility, Ivy Field. No. 25 Notre Dame (41-9) finished the regular season with a 19-0 record in the friendly confines of Melissa Cook Stadium, with Lux batting .510 while posting a 1.143 slugging percentage on eight home runs and seven doubles in front of the home crowd in 2010. Lux’s first shot was a blast to the gap in left-center on a 1-0 first-inning offering, while the grand slam came on the first pitch she saw in the second, which nearly hit the scoreboard in the same gap. Sadie Pitzenberger also steadied the Irish at the dish as she went 4-for-4 and scored three times while knocking in a run in the second. Heather Johnson also knocked her 59th RBI of the season in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk, which gave the Irish an early 8-0 lead as part of a six-run frame. Jody Valdivia went 5.0 innings, scattered five hits and struck out three. Valdivia went 15-0 at home during the regular season with a 1.12 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 81.1 innings. She also had nine shutouts. Notre Dame enjoyed the weekend off before it gets back into BIG EAST play with a three-game league series at St. John’s Saturday and Sunday to conclude the regular season.

14. Former Irish defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, had microfracture knee surgery Feb. 9 and is expected to miss six months of action.

15. Here’s what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had to say about this past weekend’s NFL Seattle Seahawks’ mini-camp: “The most impressive of the rookies in the first two days has been (Golden) Tate, the second-rounder out of Notre Dame. As a wide receiver, he’s able to display his talents a little more obviously, but he’s also taken advantage with some nice plays. Particularly in Friday’s opening session, the All-American receiver made several outstanding catches and showed he has the speed to get deep. “I’m just coming out trying to show I can compete,’ said Tate. “They drafted me for a reason. That wasn’t to come in and not play so I am trying my best to earn my way and earn my respect on this team.’ With Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh both sidelined as they recover from minor surgeries, Tate also has been tossed right into the fire and certainly looks like a guy who can provide a needed big-play element to the offense. But he dropped a couple balls Saturday and clearly will have his own adjustment period as well. “All these guys are fast. All these guys are smart,’ Tate said. “It’s tough. I have to learn the plays. I have to figure out certain techniques to work. I have to study film a lot more. It was tough, but overall, I think I’m doing OK. I have a lot to do until I can help this team out, but I am excited.’ Matt Hasselbeck sounded as if he’s already developing a belief in Tate’s ability to go get the ball in traffic and other things he showed consistently at Notre Dame. “As a quarterback, if you go to a guy and he makes a play for you, you’re probably going to go back to him and keep going back to him. I think it gives you confidence and it gives him confidence,’ Hasselbeck said. “He’s done a really nice job. I had lunch with him today and he basically said, “Hey, my head is swimming right now. This offense is different.” It’s hard for these guys coming in when we throw so much at them. It’s hard for all of us. But I thought he’s done a nice job.’

16. Here are notes from the Charlotte Observer on the NFL Carolina Panthers’ weekend mini-camp:

“Panthers second round pick Jimmy Clausen will wear jersey No. 2. Duplicates already are available by order from the NFL and the team store. Clausen was projected as a top 15 pick but dropped to the Panthers with the No. 48 overall selection. He wore No. 7 at Notre Dame, but that number already belonged to punter Jason Baker. His new number will serve as a constant reminder that he fell into the second round, which he already has said will motivate him throughout his pro career.”

“Shortly before leaving the Los Angeles area to fly to Charlotte for his first minicamp with the Carolina Panthers earlier this week, quarterback Jimmy Clausen ran an errand for new teammate Steve Smith. Smith, a Panthers receiver, sent Clausen a text message telling the rookie to be sure to bring some Cactus Cooler sodas with him to Carolina. Cactus Cooler, an orange and pineapple flavored soda, is available only in California and Arizona. Like Clausen, Smith is from the Los Angeles area. Though it was a bit of a challenge, Clausen said the sodas arrived safely and have been given to Smith. Now, Clausen has begun focusing on his primary job to deliver the football to Smith. “Steve seems like a great guy,’ said Clausen. “He’s obviously a great player.’

“Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer chuckled as he considered the youth movement his position group has undergone since last season. In place of veterans Jake Delhomme, Josh McCown and A.J. Feeley, the Panthers’ depth chart is led by fourth-year player Matt Moore (eight career starts), second-year apprentice Hunter Cantwell, and rookie draft picks Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike. “It’s like Romper Room,’ said Scherer. “You don’t need chairs; you need high chairs.’ But Scherer said he doesn’t look at the situation as a negative. He’s been through this before in 2007 when he was Cleveland’s quarterbacks coach and the Browns had a trio of young quarterbacks in then-rookie Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye. Though Anderson had one good season for the Browns, none of those players are still in Cleveland, so Scherer is hoping the Panthers’ quartet has better success. “I think the advantage of youth is they’re opening to everything,’ said Scherer. “They’re eager – not that (the) older guys weren’t. I’ll tell you, Jake and those guys really tried to learn and change, but these guys come in with kind of a clean slate, an open mind, not ingrained in anything and have been anxious to learn.’ Scherer just got his first look at the four quarterbacks together during the three-day minicamp that concluded yesterday. Here are his comments on Clausen: “He’s a solid, hard worker (who’s) very knowledgeable (and) really understands the game. He has obviously been well-coached (at Notre Dame by Charlie Weis) and was well-prepared in his previous experience. Yet, like any young guy, he has a long way to go and a lot to learn even though the offense is similar. Just because we run the same play doesn’t mean we look at it the same way, read it the same way, or the protection is the same. Even though on paper, it may be diagramed the same way, there are a lot of different ways that play can come out. There are a lot of things different for him, but he’s an eager learner. He’s easy to work with in terms of he wants to learn, wants to be good and understands he has a long way to go. The worst mistake a guy can make coming into this league is to think he can get it licked in a short period of time because it’s not going to happen. You want a guy who’s a positive realist. You want a guy who’s positive about what they’re going to do, believes in themselves, has confidence, but is realistic about what it takes to get there. You want them to have a high level of expectation, but at the same time, this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not going to happen overnight.'”

17. With a week to go in the regular season (Notre Dame is off this weekend) and 16 NCAA men’s lacrosse championship invitations to be handed out on Sunday night, here’s where the Irish stand:
— 19th in the USILA Division I coaches poll issued today (the Irish were 18th last week).
— 14th in the Inside Lacrosse Power Rankings listed today – wrote Quint Kessenich, “I’m of the opinion that Notre Dame’s win over Duke is the golden ticket to the tournament.” Notre Dame’s win over Duke is the only one by a team outside the top five.
— 18th in the latest set of RPI numbers issued today by the NCAA.