Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf has announced two signings for the 2007 softball season.

Sofball Looking To Grab Some Momentum During Spring Break

March 3, 2005

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2005 Spring Break Trip

Sunday, March 6
Notre Dame at Loyola Marymount (DH), 12:00 p.m.

Monday, March 7
Notre Dame at UC Santa Barbara, 2:00 p.m.

2005 Hawai’i Spring Fling

Wednesday, March 9
Notre Dame vs. Campbell, 5 p.m.
Notre Dame at Hawai’i, 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 10
Notre Dame vs. Virginia, 12 p.m.

Friday, March 11
Notre Dame vs. Nevada, 3 p.m.

Saturday, March 12 Seed #4 vs. Seed #5, 9 a.m.
Seed #4/#5 Winner vs. Seed #1, 11 a.m.
Seed #2 vs. Seed #3, 1 p.m.
Spring Fling Championship Game, 3 p.m.

* – Due to facility limitations, Gametracker and Live Audio will not be available during Notre Dame’s Spring Break trip. Call the Notre Dame Sports Information Hotline, 574-631-3000 for immediate results from next week’s games. The official Notre Dame website,, will be updated as soon as possible after next week’s games as well.

* – This release will the only weekly-format released for the next two weeks due to the team’s travel schedule. Keep an eye on for game-by-game updates of the team’s trip to Los Angeles and Hawaii.

Irish will search for some momentum during Spring Break: The University of Notre Dame softball team (5-6) will embark upon its annual Spring Break trip beginning on Friday, March 4. The Irish will travel to the Los Angeles, Calif., area for a doubleheader with Loyola Marymount (Sunday, Feb. 6) and take on UC Santa Barbara in a single game on Monday, Feb. 7. The team will then head to the Hawaiian Islands to take part in the University of Hawai’i’s Spring Fling Tournament. The tournament runs over four days (Wednesday, March 9 through Saturday, March 12), before the team returns to campus on March 13 for the resumption of classes at Notre Dame.

After dropping the first four games of the Palm Springs Classic last weekend, the Irish will be looking to build a bit of momentum this weekend before the schedule shifts back to Midwestern and BIG EAST Conference contests.

Notre Dame quick hits: What you need to know about the Irish for the Spring Break trip action:

• Senior Megan Ciolli is backing up her All-America nod from 2004 in `05. The Irish team captain is leading the team in all major statistical categories, including RBI (seven), batting average (.382), hits (13) and stolen bases (5).

• Notre Dame will be making its third appearance in Hawaii next week – the team previously played in Hawaii tournaments in 1995 and 1998.

Series history vs. opponents: Here is a quick look at Notre Dame’s history against this weekend’s opponents:

Loyola Marymount – The Irish and Lions will be meeting for the seventh time, with Notre Dame leading the all-time series 5-1. The Lions defeated the Irish 7-0 at the Palm Springs Classic on Feb. 25.

UC Santa Barbara – The Irish and Gauchos will be meeting for the third time, with the two teams splitting the first two meetings … the most recent came in 2000 at the UNLV Classic, a 3-0 victory for the Irish … this will be Notre Dame’s first appearance at UC Santa Barbara … the Gauchos, 32-31 last season, are 8-6 in 2005.

Campbell – The Irish and Camels will be meeting for the first time … a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Campbell was 23-31 last season and return six of nine starters … the Camels are 14-9 so far in 2005.

Hawai’i – The Irish and Rainbow Wahine will be meeting for the eighth time … Hawai’i leads the all-time series 5-2, though both Notre Dame victories have been the most recent meetings (4-1 at the `01 Kia Klassic and 8-7 at the 2004 UNLV Classic) … the Rainbow Wahine are 6-6 so far in 2005 after finishing 28-33 last season.

Nevada – The Irish and Wolfpack will be meeting for the first time … a member of the WAC, Nevada is 5-8 in 2005 after finishing the `04 season with a 38-28 record.

Notre Dame making third trip to Hawaii: The Irish will be making their third trip to Hawaii for an early-season tournament next weekend. Notre Dame previously appeared in Hawaii in 1995 and 1998. In the 1995 tournament, the Irish played seven games from March 16-19, going 4-3 during the tournament (including two losses to #10 Hawai’i).

Notre Dame’s 1998 appearance ended with a 3-2 record.

Snapshot of the Irish: Notre Dame has began the season with a 5-6 record, claiming three wins over ranked teams. The team has struggled with consistency, working through pitching, hitting and defensive difficulties over the first three weeks of the year.

After struggling through the first three games of the Palm Springs Classic, head coach Deanna Gumpf made a few lineup adjustments that might carry into the Spring Break trip. Junior Sara Schoonaert was shifted from second base to shortstop, while classmate Mallorie Lenn moved back to catcher from designated player – and both players performed well after the change. With Schoonaert’s shift to shortstop, both sophomore Stephanie Brown and freshman Katie Laing will see action at second base.

One constant for the Irish this season has been the fantastic play of senior All-American Megan Ciolli. The Terre Haute, Ind., native has proven to be the toughest out in the lineup, hitting .382 this season with 13 hits, three doubles a home run and seven RBI. She also has stolen five bases and made several great catches in centerfield. While Ciolli has been the offensive spark, she is looking for some company on the Irish stat sheet. Notre Dame is hitting .232 as a team currently, well below the .299, .300 and .278 batting averages posted by the team in the last three years.

In the pitching circle, both junior Heather Booth (3-3, 2.13 ERA, 29 K) and senior Steffany Stenglein (2-3, 2.16 ERA, 42 K) have been solid at times, but are looking for consistency.

Irish continue on fourth and fifth of six consecutive weekends on the road: Notre Dame is not the only school in the nation that travels for a large majority of its early-season schedule, but the Irish pride themselves in taking on some of the best teams in the nation during that stretch. This weekend’s trip to Los Angeles, followed by the following weekend in Hawaii, will mark the fourth and fifth of six consecutive weekends of travel for the team, which began in Gainesville, Fla. (Feb. 11-13), then San Diego, Calif. (Feb. 18-20), followed by Palm Springs, Calif. (Feb. 25-27), the Los Angeles area (March 6-7), to Hawaii (March 9-12) and to Columbus, Ohio (March 19-20).

Ciolli becomes first Notre Dame NPF draft selection: National Pro Fastpitch announced its 2005 Senior College Player Selections last week and current Irish senior Megan Ciolli was selected by the Chicago Bandits with the first selection of the second round (seventh overall).

Due to NCAA regulations, an active college player may not sign with her respective franchise until their 2005 college season is finished. Senior selections expire on July 15, 2005.

The NPF officially announced that it will enter the 2005 season with six teams – the Akron Racers, Arizona Heat, Chicago Bandits, New England Riptide, NY/NJ Juggernaut and the Texas Thunder. The California Sunbirds will remain part of the league but will suspend play in 2005 to restructure the franchise.

The Bandits will be competing in their first season in the NPF and have already signed Olympic Team standout Jennie Finch. The season will run through June 2 through August 28 and will consist of a 48-game regular season schedule for each team, an all-star game, playoffs and a Championship Series. NPF continues to be the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball and has recently developed a new alliance with ASA/USA Softball and the International Softball Federation (ISF). This alliance will help promote international play by inviting teams from China, China Taipei, Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, Australia and Venezuela to play against NPF teams. A finalized schedule will be released in March.

Stenglein records her 500th career strikeout: In a dominating performance against Utah on Friday, Feb. 18, senior Steffany Stenglein became the third Irish pitcher to reach 500 strikeouts in her career. Pitching six of seven innings against the Utes, Stenglein struck out 11 (her second consecutive double-digit strikeout performance) to push her career total to 508. She currently has 522. She trails Terri Kobata (907) and Jennifer Sharron (728) on the all-time list.

Booth reaches 400 strikeouts in Palm Springs: Junior Heather Booth posted her 400th strikeout last weekend when she sat down seven against #3/4 UCLA at the Palm Springs Classic. She currently has 412 career strikeouts and is the fourth Irish pitcher to reach 400 strikeouts in a career (Terri Kobata, Jennifer Sharron and Steffany Stenglein are the others). Booth and Steffany Stenglein have combined for 934 strikeouts in 1,050 inning pitched in their careers, a ratio of 6.2 strikeouts per seven innings.

Hartmann closing in on 100 RBI: Senior 3B Liz Hartmann enters the 2005 season with 97 RBI and needs three more to become the eighth Notre Dame player to drive in 100 or more runs a their career.

Hartmann is currently ninth on the all-time RBI list, one behind Elizabeth Perkins (1994-97) in eighth place and 28 behind Andria Bledsoe (2000-03) for seventh place.

Notre Dame claims first initial weekend tournament title since 2001: Notre Dame’s three consecutive victories in the GRU Classic (Feb. 10-13) in Gainesville, Fla., pushed the Irish through to the tournament title. The first weekend tournament victory marks the first for Notre Dame since the 2001 season, when the Irish swept through the Holiday Inn Invitational at South Florida with a 5-0 record.

Irish own three wins over ranked teams in 2005: While Notre Dame’s overall record of 5-6 is not what the team wanted at this point, three of the five victories have come against ranked teams. The Irish defeated #21 South Florida and #19 Florida on their first weekend out (Feb. 12-13), then knocked off #5/6 Tennessee last weekend in Palm Springs.

Under head coach Deanna Gumpf, the Irish have knocked off at least three ranked teams in three of four seasons (#25 South Florida, #4 Nebraska, #15 Oregon State in `02; #8 Nebraska, #14 Nebraska, #18 Nebraska in `04). The most ranked wins for the Irish came in 2001, when the team defeated eight teams ranked in the national top 25.

First back-to-back ranked wins since 2001: Notre Dame’s victories over #21 South Florida (5-1) on Saturday, Feb. 12, and #19 Florida on Sunday, Feb. 13, marked the first time since the 2001 season the Irish have posted two consecutive wins over a ranked opponents.

During the 2001 season, the Irish swept a doubleheader from #10 DePaul on April 19. To find the last time the Irish defeated two consecutive different ranked teams, you will fall back to 2000, when Notre Dame defeated #16 La.-Lafayette and #6 Oklahoma on March 18 at the Kia Klassic.

Ciolli looks to continue her climb up the career charts: Along with classmate Liz Hartmann, 2004 third-team All-American and BIG EAST Player of the Year Megan Ciolli has been a three-year starter since stepping on campus in 2001-02. Batting at the top of the lineup for a majority of her career (second freshman season, first sophomore season, third junior season), Ciolli has established herself as one of the top offensive players to ever don an Irish uniform.

Her current career rankings include second in batting average (.368 entering the weekend), fourth in stolen bases (48), seventh in runs scored (122), eighth in hits (225), ninth in home runs (11) and 10th in triples (seven). She also is poised to break into the top 10 in games played and doubles this season. A complete list of current Notre Dame players threatening career records appear on page eight of this notes package.

Ciolli on USA Softball Player of the Year watchlist: The Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, has announced its initial watch list for the fourth-annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Senior centerfielder Megan Ciolli (Terre Haute, Ind.) was among the 40 players named to the list, which will eventually be pared down to proclaim the collegiate player of the year in 2005.

Considered the Heisman Trophy of collegiate softball, past winners of the award include UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman, Texas pitcher Cat Osterman and Florida State’s Jessica Van der Linden.

Ciolli appears on the initial watch list for the second consecutive season in 2005. The catalyst for the Irish offense in 2004, Ciolli hit a team-high .397 with 81 hits, 23 RBI and 20 stolen bases. The ’04 BIG EAST Player of the Year, Ciolli compiled an outstanding offensive season, finishing third on the all-time single season list for hits and second for stolen bases. Her .367 career batting average currently ranks third all-time at Notre Dame.

Named team captain by a vote of her teammates earlier this semester, Ciolli will continue her climb up the career offensive charts in 2005. She currently ranks ninth all-time in career hits (212), ninth in home runs (10) and fourth in stolen bases (43).

A list of 25 candidates for the award will be released on April 5, with another list of 10 following on May 10. Three finalists will be announced on May 31 with the winner proclaimed at the 2005 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

South Bend plays host to the 2005 BIG EAST Championship: For the third time in the last four years, the BIG EAST Softball Championship will be held in a neutral/off-campus site in 2005.

After Salem, Va., served as the tournament’s site in 2002 and 2003, the City of South Bend, Ind., will welcome the 2005 BIG EAST Softball Championship to the Belleville Complex on the far west side of town.

The Belleville Complex is one of the best softball-only facilities in Indiana and served as host to over 3,000 fans when the U.S. Olympic Team played an exhibition doubleheader in July of 2005.

Irish picked to finish first in the BIG EAST: The University of Notre Dame softball team has been picked to win its 10th consecutive BIG EAST Conference regular-season crown by the league’s coaches, as announced by the conference on office on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The conference’s 10 head coaches rank every team except their own, with Notre Dame garnering all nine possible first place votes.

The Irish will return a veteran team in 2005, led by ’04 All-American senior CF Megan Ciolli and two of the top pitchers in the nation – senior Steffany Stenglein and junior Heather Booth. Ciolli was named the ’04 BIG EAST Player of the Year while Stenglein earned the league’s pitcher of the year award last season.

Head coach Deanna Gumpf’s team graduated just one player last season, first-team all-BIG EAST pick OF Nicole deFau. The Irish are expected to be back at full strength, however, with senior 3B Liz Hartmann, junior C Mallorie Lenn and junior OF Kellie Middleton all back to full strength after dealing with an assortment of injuries over the past offseason.

Seton Hall, who bested the Irish in four games late last season, was picked to finish second in the league, followed by Villanova, Boston College and Syracuse.

The league falls to 10 teams in 2005 with the movement of Virginia Tech to the ACC. The conference will bounce back in 2006, however, as it welcomes DePaul, Louisville and South Florida into the league – three of the top programs in the nation.

California girls: While three trips to the west coast gives the Irish an opportunity to face several of the top teams in the country this season, Notre Dame’s appearances in San Diego (Feb. 18-20), Palm Springs (Feb. 25-27) and the Los Angeles area (March 6-7) also will provide the seven California natives on the team will a chance to play in their home state.

Heather Booth (Riverside), Liz Hartmann (Novato), Carissa Jaquish (Highland), Mallorie Lenn (Garden Grove), Meagan Ruthrauff (La Mirada), Steffany Stenglein (Huntington Beach) and Carrie Wisen (Fullerton) are the seven California natives on the `05 Irish roster.

Incoming freshman class of 2006: University of Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to national letters of intent last week, landing one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.

Brittney Bargar (Corona, Calif.), Christine Farrell (La Habra, Calif.), Erin Glasco (Johnston City, Ill.), Linda Kohan (Westminster, Calif.), Alexandra Kotcheff (Beverly Hills, Calif.), Stephanie Mola (Naples, Fla.) and Beth Northway (Kentwood, Mich.) will make up the class of 2009.

“This is one of the best recruiting classes I have seen in my career and I feel it is the best in the country,” Gumpf says of the group.

“The quality and diversity of this class is second to none. The entire staff is excited to have this group of players join the Notre Dame family.”

The class hails from across the country with four California natives, plus players from Michigan, Illinois and Florida. The group also is made up of two pitchers (Bargar, Farrell), a catcher (Glasco), an infielder (Kohan), two outfielders (Kotcheff, Mola) and an infielder/outfielder (Northway) – giving the class excellent balance at all positions.

BIG EAST loses one team before gaining three in 2006: With the shift of Virginia Tech to the ACC for the `05 season, the BIG EAST drops down to 10 teams this season before expanding to 13 teams next year when DePaul, South Florida and Louisville join the league (Marquette and Cincinnati to do not compete in softball).

With the addition of three traditional powers, the BIG EAST Conference will quickly become one of the best softball conferences east of the Mississippi.

High school teammates: Sophomore Stephanie Brown and freshman Katie Laing are just the third combination of high school teammates to play for the Irish since the program began. Both Brown and Laing played for Corona del Sol in the Chandler, Ariz., area during their prep careers. Debbie Boulac and Stephanie Pinter, both from South Bend, Ind., and St. Joseph High School, played together from 1990-93. Jennifer Sharron and Jessica Sharron, the first second set of sisters to play for the Irish, were on the Notre Dame roster together in 2000 and 2001.

Sisters Debbie and Diane Boulac both played for the Irish, but were not on the same team together.

Schedule adjustment: The Notre Dame – Loyola-Chicago game, scheduled for March 31, has been previously released as a home game for the Irish. The game will be played in Chicago on Loyola’s campus.

Schedule adjustment II: There has been another shift in the Irish schedule. The previously scheduled home game vs. Illinois-Chicago on April 14 has been shifted to an away contest at UIC for 7 p.m. The road game at UIC on April 27 has been cancelled.

Notre Dame Nabs Top Spot In Directors’ Cup Standings: Notre Dame stands first in the final set of fall sports standings released in the 2004-05 United States Sports Academy Division I Directors’ Cup all-sports competition sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (formerly known as Sears Directors’ Cup). This marks the first time in the 12-year history of the all-sports program that Notre Dame has ranked number one, surpassing a second ranking in the 2004-05 second set of fall standings.

Fall NCAA competition earned the Irish 337 points based on their NCAA title in women’s soccer (100 points), their fourth-place finish in women’s cross country (80), 11th-place finish in men’s cross country (57) and second-round NCAA appearances in men’s soccer and volleyball (50 each).

Michigan (333 points) stands second, followed by Stanford (332), Duke (327) and UCLA (297).

The current standings include results from NCAA fall competition in volleyball, field hockey, men’s water polo, men’s and women’s cross country, and men’s and women’s soccer and football. In previous years in which the Directors’ Cup competition has been held, Notre Dame has finished 11th in ’93-’94, 30th in ’94-’95, 11th in ’95-’96, 14th in ’96-’97, 31st in ’97-’98, 25th in ’98-99, 21st in ’99-’00, 11th in ’00-’01, 13th in ’01-02 and ’02-’03 and 19th in ’03-’04.