March 13, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A string of eight games in eight days for the University of Notre Dame softball team winds to a close this weekend in Florida’s capital city. The Irish and No. 9/10 Florida State (20-5, 3-0 ACC) are set to lock up in an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) three-game series at JoAnne Graf Field.
The first game of the series between No. RV Notre Dame (14-9, 0-3 ACC) and Florida State is scheduled for a 4 p.m. (ET) first pitch on Saturday. Game two will tentatively follow at 6 p.m. Sunday’s series finale is set for a noon start time barring any changes due to inclement weather.
Notre Dame rides the momentum of two midweek wins into its second conference series of 2015 after defeating Campbell 4-3 on Tuesday and shutting out North Carolina Central 9-0 in five innings on Wednesday. The Irish improved their all-time record to 29-10 (.744) against teams hailing from either North or South Carolina, and North Carolina Central became the 193rd different opponent Notre Dame has defeated in the 27-year history of the varsity softball program.
The Irish are in search of their first ACC wins of the season this weekend in Tallahassee, the first time Notre Dame and Florida State will ever collide in conference play at JoAnne Graf Field. Notre Dame is making just its second appearance at JoAnne Graf Field since the facility opened in 1999.
With three scheduled games against Florida State on the docket, a total of 18 of Notre Dame’s first 26 games in 2015 will have been played against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 polls. The Irish have already defeated four different top 25 foes this season (No. 6/7 UCLA 8-4, Feb. 6, No. 7/8 Georgia 5-3, Feb. 21, No. 20 Missouri 3-2, Feb. 27 and No. RV/25 Texas 5-1, Feb. 21) before being able to hold their first official outdoor practice on the Notre Dame campus.
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No. RV Notre Dame at No. 9/10 Florida State
March 14-15, 2015
JoAnne Graf Field
No. RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(14-9, 0-3 in the ACC in 2015)
No. 9/10 Florida State Seminoles
(20-5, 3-0 in the ACC in 2015)
Notre Dame Softball Weekend Schedule
Saturday, March 14
Sunday, March 15
IRISH SLAP HITS
– Notre Dame improved to 14-9 in 2015 with a pair of midweek wins to close out its Spring Break stint in the state of North Carolina. The Irish defeated Campbell 4-3 on Tuesday before downing North Carolina Central 9-0 in five innings on Wednesday.
– This weekend’s series at Florida State will be the first time Notre Dame has ever played multiple games during a single trip to Tallahassee. The Irish are 1-1 in their previous two stops at the Florida State campus, including a 1-0 win over the then No. 9 Seminoles on March 14, 1996.
– The Irish have won nine of their last 13 games dating back to an 8-6 triumph over Maryland on Feb. 19 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Notre Dame has outscored opponents 69-45 during that span, outhitting the opposition 107-69 while adding 13 doubles and 11 home runs. The Irish are also 24-for-27 in stolen base attempts in the last 13 contests.
– Sophomore All-American Karley Wester was the leading Notre Dame offensive performer during the five-game schedule last week in North Carolina. Wester batted .647 (11-for-17) with two doubles, two triples, three stolen bases and six runs scored to power the Irish offense.
– Notre Dame improved to 12-2 (.857) this season when outhitting the opposition, including a perfect 7-0 when posting 10 or more hits, with the 9-0 win over North Carolina Central.
– In its second season in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Notre Dame is in search of its fourth road league series win this weekend at Florida State. The Irish took two out of three games last March at Georgia Tech (March 8-9, 2014) before sweeping North Carolina (April 9, 2014) and Virginia (April 18-19, 2014).
– Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team has completed its first 26 seasons with a .500 record or above in each campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has posted 27 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
On This Date…
Notre Dame is a combined 16-9 (.640) all-time in games played on March 14 of a given season, winning six of the last eight games played on the date. Notre Dame set a program record for the most runs ever scored in a five-inning game in a 16-0 rout of Cal State Fullerton on March 14, 2012.
The Irish have added a 17-14 (.548) mark on March 15, the date of the Sunday series finale against Florida State.
Wester The Tone Setter At The Top
With Notre Dame winning nine of its last 13 games to flip the calendar to March on the 2015 schedule, the primary Irish leadoff hitter has continued to make a huge impact during the team’s recent surge.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester batted a team-high .500 with 24 hits, 15 runs and eight stolen bases to lead all Notre Dame hitters in her past 13 games. Wester leads all Irish players with 13 multiple-hit games over her first 23 starts, including four different games with three hits.
Starters Reach Base Against NCCU
All nine of Notre Dame’s starters reached base safely in Wednesday’s game against North Carolina Central, just the second time the Irish offense accomplished the feat this season. The Notre Dame lineup combined for 13 hits and drew two walks against NCCU pitching in only five innings against the Lady Eagles at Thomas Brooks Park.
Sophomore All-American Karley Wester (three), senior Cassidy Whidden (two), freshman Sara White (two) and junior Carly Piccinich (two) each logged multiple hits during the midweek contest, while senior co-captain and two-time All-American Emilee Koerner singled and worked a walk to reach base twice.
All nine Notre Dame hitters previously recorded at least one base hit during an 8-6 victory over Maryland on Feb. 19 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
The First Inning Belongs To The Irish
It has been a rare occurrence on the offensive end of the diamond this season for the Notre Dame lineup to waste any time in scoring runs. In fact, the first inning has been the most prolific of all in terms of Irish run production.
During the season’s first 23 games, Notre Dame has outscored opponents by a combined 31-14 aggregate run total in the first inning. The next closest inning in terms of cumulative output for the Irish would be the team’s 19 total runs posted in the third inning.
Micaela Mashing Again
Steadily moving up the Notre Dame career home run list over her past two seasons, junior All-American Micaela Arizmendi has found her power stroke over the past two weeks in the heart of the Irish lineup.
Arizmendi has hit three of her five home runs this season over her last eight starts, clubbing a pair of two-run long balls in the first inning against Campbell (March 10) and North Carolina Central (March 11) last week. The Notre Dame first baseman has bashed 20 total home runs since the start of the 2014 campaign, the most among all Irish hitters.
CAfro Turns It On In Conference
Junior Casey Africano has been a sterling in-conference hitter ever since her first season at Notre Dame in 2013.
Africano’s cumulative batting average in conference games (.326) is 45 points higher than her overall career clip (.281), and 14 of her 39 career hits have come in 28 conference games played (12 starts). Africano has kicked in 11 of 23 career RBI and seven of 19 career runs scored against league opposition.
After hitting a solo home run against North Carolina State in game two of last Saturday’s doubleheader, three of Africano’s four career long balls have now been hit in conference games (one home run in each game of a BIG EAST doubleheader against Rutgers on April 13-14, 2013).
February, A Month For Top 25 Ws
Notre Dame completed its tournament schedule with five victories over teams that were ranked or receiving national top 25 votes. The two Irish top 10 victories against No. 6/7 UCLA (8-4 on Feb. 6) and No. 7/8 Georgia (5-3 on Feb. 21) remain the only time in program history that Notre Dame has won multiple games over top 10 ranked foes in the month of February during a given season.
Gumpf Establishes New Wins Mark
Head coach Deanna Gumpf became the winningest “diamond” mentor in Notre Dame history with career victory 559 against No. 20 Missouri on Feb. 27, surpassing longtime baseball skipper Jake Kline (1934-75). Gumpf has since extended her career total to 563 victories, an average of more than 40 wins per season, in her 14th season at the helm of the Irish.
Irish In The ACC
Notre Dame officially opened its second season in the ACC at North Carolina State last weekend. Taking into account all prior games, including those before joining the league, the Irish are a combined 129-43 (.750) against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 3-5 (.375) all-time against Florida State entering this weekend’s ACC series at JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee, Florida. The Irish and Seminoles have split the past four games in the series dating back to the 2006 season.