Feb. 8, 2018
by Tony Jones
#RV Notre Dame at Kajikawa Classic
Feb. 9-11, 2018
Tempe Sports Complex/Farrington Stadium
No. RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(34-23 in 2017)
No. 23/19 Arizona State Sun Devils
(31-22 in 2017)
(20-32 in 2017)
Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Gaels
(17-31 in 2017)
South Dakota Coyotes
(22-32 in 2017)
No. RV Fresno State Bulldogs
(35-23 in 2017)
Notre Dame Kajikawa Classic Schedule
Friday, Feb. 9
No. RV Notre Dame vs. Seattle – 11 a.m. (ET)/FloSoftball
No. RV Notre Dame vs. Saint Mary’s (Calif.) – 7:15 p.m. (ET)/FloSoftball
Saturday, Feb. 10
No. RV Notre Dame vs. South Dakota – 1:30 p.m. (ET)/FloSoftball
No. RV Notre Dame at No. 23/19 Arizona State – 9:30 p.m. (ET)/Pac-12 Networks
Sunday, Feb. 11
No. RV Notre Dame vs. No. RV Fresno State – 1:30 p.m. (ET)/FloSoftball
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The wait for the 2018 season is nearly over for the University of Notre Dame softball team. The Irish return to the diamond this weekend, with five games at the Kajikawa Classic, hosted by Arizona State, in Tempe, Arizona.
Notre Dame will play a pair of Friday games against Seattle (11 a.m. ET) and Saint Mary’s (Calif.) (7:15 p.m. ET), returning to the field on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. ET matchup with South Dakota and a marquee 9:30 p.m. ET showdown with No. 23/19 Arizona State on the Pac-12 Networks. The Irish close the tournament on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET with a game against Fresno State.
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.
30th Varsity Season Of NDSB
Notre Dame celebrates the 30th season of its softball program in 2018, as it opens its fifth season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Irish were tabbed third in the ACC predicted order of finish that was unveiled on Tuesday.
Notre Dame will face 11 foes that qualified for the 2017 NCAA Championship as part of its 30th varsity season schedule. Highlighting the upcoming Irish slate are 2017 Women’s College World Series participants Texas A&M (Feb. 22) and Washington (Feb. 23) in consecutive games at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California. Notre Dame will also meet returning NCAA Super Regional qualifiers Auburn (Feb. 22) in Cathedral City and Florida State (April 27-29) in the season’s final ACC home series at Melissa Cook Stadium.
A total of 13 monogram winners return to the diamond for Notre Dame in 2018. All-ACC and all-region performers back for the new season include senior infielder Morgan Reed (2017 NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region First Team and All-ACC Second Team), junior outfielder Ali Wester (2017 NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region First Team and All-ACC First Team) and junior infielder Melissa Rochford (2017 NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region Second Team and All-ACC Second Team).
ND looks To Continue NCAA Run
Notre Dame made its 19th straight appearance, earning its 22nd all-time selection, into the 2017 NCAA Championship, competing for the first time at the NCAA Auburn Regional. Notre Dame is one of just eight softball programs nationally to qualify for the national tournament in every season since 1999.
Dating back to NCAA Regionals in 1999, Notre Dame has won 30 games during the NCAA tournament, reaching the regional final on nine occasions during that span. The Irish have twice been tabbed to host the NCAA tournament on home turf, welcoming an NCAA Regional to Ivy Field in 2005 and Melissa Cook Stadium in 2015.
Ranked Opponents On Horizon
Notre Dame, which received votes in the first edition of both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 polls, will see a number of ranked foes on the schedule as 2018 progresses. The Irish will face No. 4/5 Washington (Feb. 23), No. 6/9 Texas A&M (Feb. 22), No. 9/6 Florida State (April 27-29), No. 13/14 Auburn (Feb. 22), No. 16/18 Minnesota (Feb. 17-18), No. 18/16 Michigan (Feb. 16-17) and No. 23/19 Arizona State (Feb. 10) during the 2018 regular season.
Bulk Of Offense Returns In ’18
The 12 primary offensive players returning to the fold for Notre Dame in 2018 not only bring a wealth of experience back to the lineup, they also bring proven production.
Returning Notre Dame players batted a combined .303 in 2017, adding 51 doubles, 31 home runs, 206 RBI and 199 runs scored over 57 games. Ali Wester is Notre Dame’s returning leader in both batting average (.398) and hits (74) from a season ago, while Morgan Reed‘s 11 doubles, nine home runs and 59 RBI all paced the Irish in 2017. Both players tied for the team lead last season with 46 runs scored.
Other top performers returning at the dish include Cait Brooks (.304, 10 doubles, eight home runs, 39 RBI), Melissa Rochford (.302, five doubles, five home runs, 42 RBI), Sara White (.293, four doubles, four home runs, 16 RBI) and Katie Marino (.264, eight doubles, four home runs, 21 RBI).
ND Kajikawa Classic History
Notre Dame will make its fourth official appearance in the Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State this weekend, having previously taken part in the tournament in 2008, 2010 and 2016. The Irish have compiled a 6-8 record during the event, which is the largest on-campus softball tournament held in Division I each season.
Notre Dame brought home a pair of victories during the 2008 tournament, downing Utah 6-2 and California 4-3 that season. The Irish added a win over Creighton in 2010 before going 3-2 at Kajikawa in 2016 with wins over No. 23 Utah (2-1), BYU (4-2) and Georgia State (10-4).
ND Versus Kajikawa Opposition
Notre Dame is a combined 8-11 against the five teams that it will face to open the 2018 season at the Kajikawa Classic.
The Irish will meet Seattle for the first time in varsity competition on Friday. Notre Dame owns a 2-0 series lead over Saint Mary’s (Calif.), previously sweeping a doubleheader against the Gaels on March 6, 1993. In the first game ever between Notre Dame and South Dakota last February at the Beach Kickoff Tournament, the Irish emerged with a 2-1 win. Notre Dame also rides a 3-1 record into its matchup with Fresno State, with each of the prior four games taking place at Cal State Fullerton.
Notre Dame has two wins over Arizona State in its series history with the Sun Devils, with both coming against top-10 ranked ASU squads.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director 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, men’s soccer and swimming and diving 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 Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.