March 14, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Already off to one of the best starts by a freshman in program history, University of Notre Dame infielder Melissa Rochford further cemented her status as one of the most impactful newcomers in the nation by being selected as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Softball Player of the Week on Monday.
The player of the week honor was the first ACC award earned by Rochford in her collegiate career, as she became the second Notre Dame player recognized by the ACC in as many weeks after senior Allie Rhodes was chosen as the conference’s pitcher of the week on March 7. Rochford joined junior co-captain Karley Wester (Feb. 17, 2014) as the only Irish freshmen to ever earn the ACC Player of the Week award.
Rochford was one of 11 Notre Dame players to record at least one hit during a 5-0 week that featured a stop at FIU and the opening of ACC play at Virginia. She batted .444 with two doubles, one home run, a team-high 10 RBI and six runs scored in her five starts, adding a team-best 14 assists in the field at third base. Rochford also reached base at a .524 clip and slugged .722 for the week.
She opened the nonconference doubleheader with a 3-for-5 effort and four RBI, scoring a pair of runs in Notre Dame’s 17-run outburst at FIU on Wednesday. Rochford added a pair of hits, drew one walk, drove in one and scored one run in the nightcap to help complete the sweep of the Panthers.
Rochford finished with a team-high three RBI to aid the Notre Dame cause in claiming a 9-2 opening game win at Virginia. During the second game against the Cavaliers the Irvine, California native went a perfect 2-for-2, walking two times and adding a double, home run, two RBI and two runs scored to spark the Irish Saturday sweep. She added a double and a run scored during Notre Dame’s 16-run Sunday output to cap the series sweep of Virginia.
Through 24 games this season, Rochford is the Notre Dame team leader with a .676 slugging percentage, a .547 on-base percentage, 28 RBI, 11 walks, and has been hit by a team-high five pitches. She is second in batting average (.456) and home runs (3) for the No. 20/23 Irish, winners of their last 17 games overall.
Notre Dame officially opens its 2016 home schedule with a 5 p.m. (ET) showdown against Bowling Green on Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The nonconference matchup will stream live via WatchND.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
2016 Notre Dame Softball Weekly Honorees
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week
Melissa Rochford — March 14
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Pitcher of the Week
Allie Rhodes — March 7 (Co)
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.