March 30, 2001
Notre Dame begins its drive for the BIG EAST regular season title:
The 11th-ranked Notre Dame softball team (22-3) faces its BIG EAST home opener this weekend vs. St. John’s (13-16), Saturday, March 31, at Ivy Field. The Irish also will take on conference rival Seton Hall (8-5) on Sunday, April 1.
Notre Dame is coming off two doubleheader sweeps of Valparaiso (6-0 and 4-0, March 28) and Western Michigan (7-1 and 8-0, March 29).
Miller will coach 500th Notre Dame game this weekend:
Liz Miller will coach her 500th game as Notre Dame’s head coach this weekend in the first game vs. Seton Hall. Miller is 346-152 (.695) under the Golden Dome and has a 886-294 (.750) 26-year collegiate record.
Irish move up to highest-ever ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25:
Notre Dame has moved up to its highest-ever ranking (#11) after an impressive run to third place in the Kia Klassic (March 15-18). Notre Dame finished third in the prestigious tournament and knocked off #7 Fresno State and #10 Arizona State during the competition.
Notre Dame entered the season ranked 19th in the preseason poll and moved to 14th in the Feb. 21st poll. The Irish then dropped a spot to 15th in the Feb. 28th poll, but moved back up to 14th for two weeks (March 7 and 14).
Notre Dame in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 this season:
Preseason: 19 (0-0)
Irish defeat #4 Washington and #18 South Carolina while capturing the Holiday Inn Invitational in Tampa, Fla.
Feb. 21: 14 (5-0)
Irish give up two runs on a double in the sixth inning to drop first game of the season at Arkansas.
Feb. 28: 15 (8-1)
Irish lose three games off the schedule due to inclement weather but claim third tournament title of the season at the Morning News Invitational in Chattanooga, Tenn.
March 7: 14 (11-1)
Irish sweep a doubleheader at #24 Cal State Northridge.
March 14: 14 (13-1)
Irish finish third in the Kia Klassic, knocking off #7 Fresno State and #10 Arizona State while posting a 5-2 record during the week.
March 21: 12 (18-3)
Irish earn highest-ever ranking and face a week off before their home opener vs. Western Michigan (March 27).
March 28: 11 (18-3)
Irish continue to climb the poll after taking a week off after their Spring Break trip.
Notre Dame posts best-ever start:
Notre Dame’s 22-3 (.880) record over its first 21 games is by far the best start to a season since the program began in 1989. The Irish also started the season with an 11-1 record, besting the 8-4 starts in 1995 and 2000 seasons that were the previous best for a season.
Notre Dame’s 25-game record to start a season during the Liz Miller era (1993-current):
1993: 16-9 (.640)
1994: 13-12 (.520)
1995: 17-8 (.680)
1996: 15-10 (.600)
1997: 13-12 (.520)
1998: 11-14 (.440)
1999: 14-11 (.560)
2000: 19-6 (.760)
2001: 22-3 (.880)
Andrea Loman becomes second Irish player to earn BIG EAST Player of the Week accolades:
Sophomore first base Andrea Loman (Riverside, Calif.) was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on March 19, for her performance during the Kia Klassic last weekend (March 15-18). In the nine games the Irish played over Spring Break, Loman increased her batting average from .214 to .333 by pounding out 12 hits, three RBI and one home run (vs. Hawaii).
Loman also faired well against Notre Dame’s higher-ranked competition, including a three-for-three afternoon against #5 Oklahoma, a two-for-three game vs. #24 Cal State Northridge and a two-for-four contest vs. #9 Cal State Fullerton.
She is the second Irish player (Jenny Kriech, Feb. 26) to earn the award this season.
Kriech dominates competition over the first month of the season:
No player on the Notre Dame roster has been more consistent than junior rightfielder Jenny Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.) in the first three weeks of the season.
She started off by splitting tournament MVP honors with teammate Lizzy Lemire at the Holiday Inn Invitational (Feb. 16-18) and earning a spot on the Morning News Invitational (Feb. 23-25) all-tournament team.
The Irish lead-off hitter has 34 hits in 25 games this season, including the following dramatic moments:
* A game-winning single up the middle against #4 Washington on Feb. 17.
* A game-tying single against Arkansas (Feb. 24) in the top of the fifth, setting the table for teammate Jen Sharron’s game-winning home run and Kriech scoring the eventual game-winning run.
* A walk-off three-run triple in the bottom of the fifth against Maine (Feb. 24) that ended the game on collegiate softball’s eight-run rule.
* She drove the first pitch of the third inning vs. Jacksonville State deep over the wall in right field for her first home run of the year and third of her career.
* Posted a five-for-eight performance in a doubleheader vs. Western Michigan with three RBI, four runs scored and three stolen bases.
* She is second on the team in hitting with runners in scoring positions (.391), has posted a batting average of .525 when she leads off an inning and has 11 two-out RBI.
Kriech leads the team with a .415 batting average and also has 14 RBI and 22 runs scored so far in 2001. She has eight stolen bases and was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week on Feb. 26.
Myers is one tough out:
Notre Dame cleanup hitter and catcher Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) has been one of the toughest outs in the Irish lineup this season. Myers is second on the team in batting average (.375) and leads the team with a whopping .681 slugging percentage. She has reached safely in 19 of 25 games this season and has seven multi-hit performances to give her a .451 on-base percentage.
Jenny Kriech enters the BIG EAST matchup with St. John’s on Saturday with a seven-game hit streak. She also posted a 11-game hit streak earlier this season and has failed to hit safely in just two games this season.
Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.) also is on a hot streak lately, riding a eight-game hit streak into the weekend.
As Notre Dame opened the season with eight consecutive victories, the Irish stretched their regular-season win streak to 16 (dating back to May 22, 2000). That streak ranks as the third-best in school history.
All-time Notre Dame regular-season win streaks:
21: April 11, 1998 – Feb. 20, 1999
19: March 16, 1996 – April 11, 1996
16: May 22, 2000 – Feb. 25, 2001
13: April 16, 1990 – April 25, 1990
Hitting the long ball:
Six Irish players have blasted home runs over the first five weeks of the season. Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.) hit her first career round-tripper against South Florida while Andrea Loman added a solo shot against #4 Washington and Hawaii (March 17). Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) joined the home run club with a three-run shot in the fifth inning vs. Arkansas (Feb. 24). It was Sharron’s third career home run. Notre Dame’s top hitter so far in 2001, Jenny Kriech, hit her first home run of the year vs. Jacksonville State (March 9).
Jarrah Myers leads the team in round-trippers with four, blasting two in one game vs. #24 Cal State Northridge and one against #9 Cal State Fullerton. Myers also hit a tape-measure shot (estimated at least 260 feet) vs. Valparaiso on March 28.
Three bases are better than two:
Notre Dame set the team record for triples last season with 18 and the Irish seem to have their minds set on exceeding that mark this year, having posted seven triples so far this season.
Jarrah Myers, Lizzy Lemire, Andria Bledsoe and Jenny Kriech have all hit triples this season. It was Lemire’s eighth career three-bagger, while Myers and Bledsoe both posted their fourth career triples.Kriech has moved into fourth place on the all-time list for career triples with 10. Katie Marten (’94-’97) tops the list with 13.
Rookie righthander Schmidt puts up veteran numbers:
The success of freshman RHP Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) has put the Irish coaching staff in the enviable position of posessing two quality starting pitchers for the 2001 season.
Schmidt is 10-1 in 11 starts this season with a 0.81 ERA. She has struck out 100 (see strikeout note that follows) and pitched a complete-game three-hit shutout in Notre Dame’s 8-0 five-inning victory over Maine. The freshman hurler has struck out 11 batters in five innings of work vs. Maine and Valparaiso.
The rookie stepped up her game to an even higher level at the Kia Klassic (March 15-18), shutting down some of the top offenses in the nation. Schmidt earned two victories with complete game performances vs. 10th-ranked Arizona State and a four-hit shutout of Utah State.
Against the Sun Devils, she pitched all nine innings of the extra-innings contest, surrendering just two hits (a lead-off bunt single, followed by a single in the bottom of the ninth that allowed the runner placed on second in the international tie breaker rule to score) in the game. At one point in the game, Schmidt retired 17 straight Sun Devil batters.
Against Utah State on March 15, Schmidt posted a career-best 13 strikeouts while allowing just four hits.
Schmidt also made an extended relief appearance vs. Oklahoma, taking over for starting pitcher Jen Sharron for the third out of the first inning. She had an immediate impact, striking out the first batter she faced in three pitches and eventually holding the potent Sooner offense to just three hits the rest of the way.
Schmidt posted some eye-popping numbers for the week: 23.1 innings pitched, just 10 hits allowed, two runs (one earned) and 28 strikeouts (1.21 per inning pitched) for a 0.30 ERA in four appearances.
Returning home for two doubleheaders vs. Valparaiso and Western Michigan, Schmidt continued to be nearly unhittable. Working five innings vs. Valparaiso (March 28) Schmidt worked four perfect innings before giving up a single in the fifth inning. She ended with 11 K in five innings of work.
Entering the circle the next day vs. Valparaiso, Schmidt tossed her third shutout of the season, once again giving up just one hit and striking out nine.
Irish pitching staff becomes K Krew:
200 strikeouts is a total some teams hope to achieve in an entire season. Notre Dame’s pitching staff, though, is out to set a precendent in Ks. As of March 30, the Irish have 199 strikeouts as a team – Kristin Schmidt has 100, Jen Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) 94 and Jessica Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) has five.
To put Schmidt and Jen Sharron’s numbers in perspective, an Irish pitcher has posted over 200 strikeouts just four times in Notre Dame history – Sharron (246) last season and Terri Kobata (250, 315 and 213 from ’93-’95) – and both current Irish aces are on pace to reach that mark this season.
They have both been red-hot lately as well. Jen Sharron sat down 14 Valparaiso batters on March 28, setting a personal record (and just three off the school record, held by Kobata). Schmidt has 20 strikeouts in her last 12 innings of work.
Sharron and Schmidt are on a break-neck pace in the strikeout category. Schmidt has reached 100 K in the third-fewest innings pitched with 77.2 IP. Terri Kobata reached 100 strikeouts in 62 .1 innings in 1994 and 69 innings in 1995. Sharron reached 100 strikeouts in 115.1 innings last season and is on pace to reach the mark in her next start.
Myers ties two school records:
Junior all-BIG EAST catcher Jarrah Myers equalled two school records in the second game of a doubleheader vs. #24 Cal State Northridge on March 11, in Northridge, Calif.. She blasted two home runs in the game, matching the school record held by six different Irish players, including herself when she hit two home runs vs. Seton Hall on April 30, 2000.
Against CSUN, Myers launched a three-run shot down the leftfield line in the fifth inning and muscled a two-run homer over the rightfield fence in the seventh inning. Adding an RBI single in the first inning, she posted six RBI in the game, matching the school record held by teammate Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) (vs. San Diego State, 3-12-00).
Irish picked to repeat as BIG EAST champs:
Notre Dame, which finished last season ranked 24th in the country, returns all nine starters from its 2000 BIG EAST Championship title team last year. Led by captains Melanie Alkire, Danielle Klayman, Lizzy Lemire and Jen Sharron, the Irish have been picked to repeat as BIG EAST champions by a vote from the league’s coaches.
The 2001 BIG EAST Coaches Preseason Poll:
1. Notre Dame, 100 pts.
2. Connecticut, 91 pts.
3. Seton Hall, 68 pts.
Virginia Tech, 68 pts.
5. Boston College, 64 pts.
6. Villanova, 55 pts.
7. Syracuse, 50 pts.
8. St. John’s, 43 pts.
9. Rutgers, 29 pts.
10. Pittsburgh, 25 pts.
11. Providence, 12 pts.
The Irish finished with a 14-2 record in BIG EAST competition last season and swept through the BIG EAST Championship in three games. Notre Dame outscored Boston College (5-2) and Connecticut (5-0, 7-0) 17-2 to earn its third consecutive conference championship title.
Seniors Melanie Alkire and Jen Sharron became Notre Dame’s first All-Americans since 1996 by earning NFCA second-team All-American honors last year.
Katie Marten (’94-’97) earned NFCA third team honors in 1995 and 1996 while Terri Kobata (’93-’96) earned third team honors in 1995 and second team honors in 1996.
Alkire finished the 2000 season with 13 home runs, 64 RBI and 73 hits. She also posted a 7-1 pitching record (in 13 appearances) with a 2.30 ERA, including a six-hitter against sixth-ranked and 2000 National Champion Oklahoma on Mar. 18, 2000.
Sharron pitched 27 complete games last season, tossing 246 strikeouts and posting a 0.88 ERA. In her career, the Agoura Hills, Calif., native has pitched 574.2 innings with 504 strikeouts and a 1.26 ERA entering the 2001 season.
Talented and noteworthy returnees:
The Irish are loaded with veteran players and talented underclassmen this season. Out of the nine starting players that return to the lineup this season, eight earned postseason accolades from the BIG EAST conference. Jen Sharron earned her third consecutive BIG EAST Pitcher-of-the-Year award and was picked by league coaches to repeat the honor once again in 2001.
Melanie Alkire won her second consecutive BIG EAST Player-of-the-Year award last season and placed an exclamation point on her conference season by earning the Most Outstanding Player award at the 2000 BIG EAST Championship.
Andrea Loman helped the Irish earn a sweep of the major player-of-the-year awards by becoming the second consecutive Notre Dame player to earn BIG EAST Rookie-of-the-Year accolades (Jarrah Myers earned the distinction in 1999).
Alkire, Loman, Myers and Sharron were joined on the all-BIG EAST first team by Danielle Klayman, Jenny Kriech and Lizzy Lemire. Andria Bledsoe rounded out the Notre Dame award winners with a second team all-BIG EAST selection and a spot on the all-rookie team.
In keeping with the stellar league performance by her team, Irish head coach Liz Miller earned her second BIG EAST Coach-of-the-Year award. Miller previously won the award in 1996.
Miller is coaching in her 26th season: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller is now in her ninth season with the Irish and 26th season as a collegiate head coach. She boasts a 886-294 (.750) record over the last 26 years, 17 of which she coached at Lake Michigan College before heading to the Golden Dome in 1993.
In each of her previous eight seasons with the Irish, Miller has led the team to a conference title (Midwestern Collegiate ’93-’95, BIG EAST ’96-present) and the team has advanced to the NCAA tournament five times.
While at Lake Michigan College, Miller’s teams amassed 12 conference championships and 11 regional titles. From 1981-85 her team finished in the nation’s top five each year.
Miller entered the season ranked 16th on the NCAA winningest active coaches list with a 341-152 (.692) record at Notre Dame.
Alkire among the national and Notre Dame historical leaders:
Senior Melanie Alkire compiled one of the best offensive seasons ever for a Notre Dame softball player in 2000. Alkire led the team in most of the offensive categories, ranking first in batting average (.376), hits (73), doubles (15), home runs (13), RBI (64), total bases (129), slugging percentage (.665) and on-base percentage (.421).
Her 64 RBI ranked fifth in the nation in 2000, while her 13 home run mark was ranked 34th.
Poised to eclipse many of the Notre Dame career offensive records in her final season, Alkire is fourth in career doubles (37), second in home runs (25), tied for first in RBI (137), sixth in walks (43) and fifth in toughest-to-strike out (15.80 at-bats per K).
So far in 2001, Alkire has 27 hits, including six doubles and eight RBI.
Sharron assaults the Irish record books:
Senior lefthander Jen Sharron is coming off one of the most dominating seasons ever for a Notre Dame pitcher. After posting a 0.88 ERA and 246 strikeouts in 2000, she has positioned herself among the best to ever enter the pitching circle for the Fighting Irish.
Ranking in the top five in 12 career pitching categories, just a typical season from “#9” will put her on top of many of the all-time charts. Sharron has averaged 191.4 inning pitched, 168 strike outs, 20.3 wins and 18 complete games in her first three years with the Irish. Over that same period of time, she has won three consecutive BIG EAST Pitcher-of-the-Year awards and is favored to win her fourth trophy this season.
Sharron has a 12-2 record with a 1.75 ERA and 94 strikeouts so far this season.
Sharron named a BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete:
Standout Notre Dame softball pitcher Jen Sharron and Irish baseball pitcher Mike Naumann have been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Female and Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, respectively, from the University of Notre Dame.
Sharron will receive $2,000 toward graduate studies from the BIG EAST and Aeropostale, and becomes eligible for the overall female BIG EAST award based on nominees from each league member school. Aeropostale sponsors the league’s post-graduate student-athlete scholarship program, awarding 31 scholarships to conference student-athletes.
A 3.272 student (on a 4.0 grade-point average scale) as a film, television and theater major in the College of Arts and Letters, Sharron twice has been a BIG EAST Academic All-Star and for two years has been part of the University’s Academic Honors Program matching high-achieving student-athletes with faculty mentors.
In addition, Sharron is the softball team’s representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), participates with the STAR reading program, speaks to young people on the dangers of drug use as part of the Notre Dame Athletes Against Drugs program, has assisted with freshman orientation and participates in various activities with student-sponsored services events, primarily with Memorial Medical Center Pediatrics.
Irish placed at 19th in USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25 poll:
The Irish were ranked 19th in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) preseason poll that was released on Wednesday, Jan. 24. The 19th ranking marks the highest the Irish have been placed in the preseason since 1994, when the team entered the season ranked 17th.
Notre Dame returns all nine starters from the 2000 squad that compiled a 47-14 record and won its second consecutive BIG EAST Championship title. Last year’s team climbed to 17th in the NFCA poll last season, tying the school mark for the highest-ever national ranking. The Irish were ranked 24th in the final NFCA poll last season.
Irish boast a strong schedule this season:
Notre Dame will face a number of ranked teams this season, as six opponents on the 2001 schedule appeared in the preseason top 25. Another five opponents received mention in the `others receiving votes’ category in the poll. Notre Dame has already defeated #4 Washington and #18 South Carolina at the Holiday Inn Invitational (Feb. 16-18) in Tampa, Fla., and #7 Fresno State, #10 Arizona State and #24 Cal State Northridge on its trip to California for Spring Break.
The Irish also have their traditional meeting with DePaul this season (Thursday, April 19). The Blue Demons are currently ranked 10th.
Notre Dame has posted a 6-2 record against ranked teams this season in addition to its 5-3 record against ranked teams last season, with victories over #16 Louisiana Lafayette, #6 Oklahoma and #22 Illinois-Chicago three times.
Notre Dame sweeps the first BIG EAST softball weekly awards announcement:
The 12th-ranked University of Notre Dame softball team, off to the its best start ever with an 18-3 record in 2001, had two players recognized by the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 26.
Junior Jenny Kreich was named the BIG EAST Player of the Week after posting six hits in four games at the Morning News Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., (Feb. 23-25). In an 8-0 victory over Maine on Saturday, Feb. 24, Kriech was three-for-three, including a game-ending three-run triple. She finished the tournament with a .545 batting average (six-for-11) and was named to the Morning News Invitational all-tournament team.
Senior All-American Jen Sharron, a three-time BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, began the 2001 season in traditional style by capturing the first BIG EAST Pitcher-of-the-Week award. She allowed just one earned run in two starts during the second weekend of the season, including a one-hit shutout victory against Texas Tech on Friday. That 4-0 win over the Red Raiders included a seven-hour rain delay after the third inning. She joined Kriech and Irish catcher Jarrah Myers on the Morning News Invitational all-tournament team.
Sharron also did some damage at the plate. With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth against Arkansas on Feb. 24, Sharron launched a 0-2 pitch far over the centerfield fence to give her team a three-run lead. Notre Dame eventually won the game 4-3.
Three talented rookies join the Irish roster:
Liz Miller and her staff welcomes three talented freshmen to the team this season. Catcher Chantal DeAlcuaz (Modesto, Calif.), IF/OF Nicole deFau (Southington, Conn.) and RHP Kristin Schmidt (Houston, Texas) all possess the talent and drive to contribute immediately in the Notre Dame lineup.
Schmidt, a 2000 second-team All-American coming out of North Shore Senior High School, has secured a spot in the Irish rotation with an impressive performance during the fall exhibition season.
Providing her team some solid depth in the infield, deFau has shown the range and ability to be a steady backup to Alexis Madrid and may also see some time in the outfield. deFau joins junior Kas Hoag as the only two Notre Dame players with Connecticut state roots.
DeAlcuaz, who is the eighth Irish player on the 2001 roster from California (Modesto), will have the opportunity to backup and learn from one of the best catchers in the country, junior Jarrah Myers.
Preseason all-BIG EAST awards announced:
The BIG EAST Conference has announced its choices for the preseason all-BIG EAST team (Jan. 4) and the Irish placed six players on the 13-member team of league standouts.
Senior shortstop Melanie Alkire was picked by the league coaches to earn her third consecutive BIG EAST Player of the Year award. Alkire was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection in 2000 while leading the Irish in batting average (.376), hits (73), doubles (15), home runs (13), RBI (64), total bases (129), slugging percentage (.665) and on base percentage (.421). She boasts a .392 career batting average in conference games and was also named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2000 BIG EAST Championship.
Senior left-hander Jen Sharron earned the nod for the Preseason Pitcher of the Year award. She has won the conference’s pitcher of the year award the previous three years, becoming the first Irish pitcher and first-ever freshman to earn the honor in 1998. Sharron went 6-2 in conference competition last season, posting a 0.92 ERA. Her 0.73 lifetime ERA in conference play ranks as fifth on the conference career charts.
Alkire and Sharron were joined on the 2001 preseason all-BIG EAST team by teammates Jarrah Myers, Jennifer Kriech, Lizzy Lemire, and 2000 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Andrea Loman.
Lemire has a great first weekend:
Senior captain Lizzy Lemire made her presence known in the lineup at the Holiday Inn Invitational (Feb. 16-18). The Irish leftfielder posted six hits in five games, including three hits vs. Hofstra. She also had a double and a triple, scored two runs and notched two RBI over the course of the tournament.
Her solid play earned her co-MVP honors of the tournament with teammate Jenny Kriech.
Notre Dame launches 24-hour sports hotline:
The Notre Dame athletic department has launched its varsity sports hotline, available by calling (219) 631-3000.
The hotline provides schedule and results information for all 26 Notre Dame varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the live coverage and game recaps already provided on the official athletic website at www.und.com.
The menu offerings for the 24-hour hotline will be adjusted on a seasonal basis, with schedule and result information from 21 different sports currently being added to the hotline.
Here is how the hotline is currently aligned (as of March 5):
* Dial (219) 631-3000
* Select any of the following subgroups:
1. Upcoming schedule and recent results of ALL varsity sports currently in action.
2. Upcoming football schedules for the 2001 – 2003 football seasons.
3. Men’s basketball information.
4. Women’s basketball information.
5. Lacrosse information (then press 1 for men’s lacrosse and 2 for women’s lacrosse).
6. Baseball and softball information (press 1 for baseball, 2 for softball).
7. Swimming and diving and track and field information (press 1 for swimming and diving and 2 for track and field).
8. Rowing and golf information (press 1 for rowing, 2 for golf).
9. Fencing and tennis information (press 1 for fencing, 2 for tennis)
Kevin White Radio Show:
A weekly half-hour talk show featuring first-year athletics director Kevin White debuted Aug. 27 on Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000. “The Kevin White Show” is on the air from 11:00-11:30 p.m. for 30 consecutive Sundays on ESPN radio (1000 AM in Chicago, www.espnradio1000.com).
The show also can be heard in 35 states. White will welcome to the show a series of guests and prominent figures associated with college athletics including administrators, coaches and media members.
“Live Stats” debuts on www.und.com:
The University of Notre Dame sports information office is now able to display a live box score for all Notre Dame softball home games, updated after each play, on the offical Notre Dame website: www.und.com. Eventually, the page will be able to display play-by-play and statistics for each team while the game is being played.
Connect to the link http://und.fansonly.com/livestats/w-softbl/ for every home Notre Dame softball game and keep up with the action.