April 29, 1999

IRISH CLINCH: With two wins over BIG EAST foes Connecticut (7-3, 9-1) and Providence (3-0, 1-0), the Irish improved to 12-0 in the BIG EAST to clinch a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament, May 8-9 in Storrs, Conn. With just this weekend’s games left to play, Notre Dame cannot finish worse than second. The Seton Hall Pirates, who finished 0-13 in 1998, have also clinched a spot with a 10-2 record. Other teams in the hunt for the final two spots include Boston College (8-4), Connecticut (9-7), Villanova (6-6) and Rutgers (5-7).

GOING FOR THE TITLE: If the Irish and Seton Hall both win their BIG EAST doubleheaders on Saturday, the two teams’ Sunday doubleheader at Ivy Field should be for the BIG EAST regular season title. Notre Dame only has to win one of the games, however, because Seton Hall has dropped single games to conference teams Connecticut and Boston College.

0-FOR-2: For the second time in a week, the Notre Dame softball team dropped a one-run, 11 inning game this time to the visiting IUPUI Jaguars Tuesday afternoon at Ivy Field.

The game was scoreless until the top of the ninth inning when IUPUI’s Megan Fultz reached on a fielding error, stole second and scored on catcher Adrienne Hendrick’s RBI double down the left field line. The Irish tied the game at 1-1 with two outs when freshman Kas Hoag (Wallingford, Conn.), who fell behind in the count 1-2 and then fouled off three pitches in a row, hit a double to left-center field to score sophomore Sarah Kirkman (Kokomo, Ind.) from second.

Two innings later in the top of the 11th, the Jaguars scored what turned out to be the winning run when Fultz singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then went to third and scored on two separate wild pitches by Notre Dame hurler Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.).

The Irish had a chance to score in the bottom of the 11th when freshman Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) led off with a single to left field, advanced to second on a sacrifice and moved to third on a fly out to center field with two outs. Jaguar pitcher Fultz, however, struck out Notre Dame’s Rebecca Eimen (Mannford, Okla.) to end the threat and win the game.

Both starting pitchers, Notre Dame’s Sharron and IUPUI’s Fultz, went the distance for their teams. Sharron fell to 14-8 after giving up four hits and striking out 12, while Fultz improved her record to 13-9.

BIG EAST POWS: For the first time this season, the Irish captured all three BIG EAST weekly awards, although two of them were shared. Sophomore Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) earned BIG EAST Co-Player of the Week honors, senior Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.) was named BIG EAST Co-Pitcher of the Week and freshman Rebecca Eimen grabbed the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week award. All are first time honorees this season.

Alkire vaulted herself into the team lead in overall batting after hitting .438 overall (7-for-16) with four runs scored, a double, a home run and four RBI in Notre Dame’s five games. Notre Dame’s starting shortstop also contributed on the mound in the team’s 1-0 win over Providence after driving in what proved to be the winning run in the third inning. Relieving starting pitcher Bessolo, Alkire allowed no hits and no runs in two and two-thirds innings of work to grab her third save of the season. She now leads both the BIG EAST and the Irish in batting with a .348 mark overall and .528 average in conference play. Alkire shares the award with Seton Hall third baseman Vickie Lamb.

Bessolo, who is 5-0 in the BIG EAST, gave up just one run en route to a 2-0 record last week. Against Connecticut on Saturday, she pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits and one run in Notre Dame’s 9-1 win. A day later, she and Alkire combined to one-hit Providence as the team sneaked by the Friars 1-0 in the second half of the doubleheader. A right-handed pitcher, Bessolo is 12-5 this season with a 2.78 earned-run average. She shared the award with Seton Hall pitcher Misty Beaver.

Eimen, who recently took over the starting position at second base, batted .400 overall and a team-leading .571 in BIG EAST games last week. She also stole two bases and was perfect in 23 fielding opportunities.

Previous 1999 Notre Dame BIG EAST weekly honorees include senior first baseman Amy Laboe (co-player of the week), sophomore pitcher Jennifer Sharron (co-pitcher of the week) and freshman Jarrah Myers (rookie of the week).

SCOUTING THE RED STORM: St. John’s will enter Saturday’s 11 a.m. doubleheader with a record of 2-10 in the BIG EAST and 20-27 overall. Under fifth-year coach Kim Staehle, the Red Storm’s two BIG EAST victories have come over Providence (7-3) and one against Rutgers (15-13), in which the Scarlet Knights and Red Storm set BIG EAST single-game records for combined runs (28), hits (33), total bases (65) and home runs (9).

Leading the way for St. John’s this season on offense has been freshman Tiffany Howerton, who is batting .351 overall and .350 in BIG EAST games. On the mound the Red Storm use two main starters in Gina Calabrese (11-13) and Brianne Leary (7-14).

All-time, the Irish are 6-0 against St. John’s having won last year’s doubleheader by the score of 3-1 and 5-0.

SCOUTING THE PIRATES: Seton Hall is the biggest surprise in the BIG EAST and possibly in the entire Northeast region in 1999. After going 0-15 in the BIG EAST and 18-28-1 overall, the Pirates are now 35-4 overall and 10-2 in the BIG EAST and will enter this Saturday’s doubleheader against Pittsburgh on a 16-game win streak. Under head coach Ray VanderMay, Seton Hall has set school records for overall wins (35) and BIG EAST wins (10). The team’s four losses have come at the hands of Monmouth University (New Jersey) twice and BIG EAST foes Connecticut and Boston College once.

Leading the way on offense for the Pirates has been senior third baseman Vickie Lamb, who is hitting .610 overall and .433 in BIG EAST play and had been named BIG EAST Player of the Week four times this season. Lamb has also tallied 13 home runs, including four in BIG EAST games, and leads her team with 44 RBI and a 1.071 slugging percentage. On the mound, right-handed pitchers Jennifer Berghoff and Misty Beaver lead the team with identical 17-2 records and 1.07 and 1.16 earned-run averages respectively.

The Irish are 10-0 all-time against the Pirates having swept the series last season 7-0 and 8-0.

BIG EAST TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Although the BIG EAST was consolidated into one division this season, the double-elimination tournament format remains the same. This year Connecticut is playing host to the tournament after the Irish did the same last season for the first time ever at Ivy Field. The following is a schedule of the tournament with the teams and seeds to be determined after this weekend.


Game 1: #1 Seed vs. #4 Seed, 10 a.m.Game 2: #2 Seed vs. #3 Seed, 12 p.m.Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.Game 4: Loser  Game 1 vs. Loser  Game 2, 4 p.m.


Game 5: Loser  Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 10 a.m.Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser  Game 4, 12 p.m.Game 7 (if necessary): Same as Game 6, 2:00 p.m.

NCAA PAIRINGS: The selection show for the NCAA tournament will take place on Sunday, May 16 at 7 p.m. central time. The tournament has been expanded this season from 32 to 48 teams, while the BIG EAST Tournament winner will still receive an automatic bid. Media members wishing to know satellite and call-in numbers should contact the Notre Dame Sports Information Office.

NOTES: The Irish received one vote for the second straight week in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll…The team was also ranked 10th in the Mideast region for the second time in a row…Utah Blue has ranked the Irish 65th in the nation in its power ratings index…sophomore outfield/designated player Sarah Kirkman made her first career start in left field this past Tuesday against IUPUI.

Tentative Defensive Starting Lineup

Pitcher      - Jennifer Sharron/Angela BessoloCatcher      - Kris McClearyFirst Base   - Amy LaboeSecond Base  - Rebecca EimenThird Base   - Jarrah MyersShortstop    - Melanie AlkireLeft Field   - Lizzy LemireCenter Field - Danielle KlaymanRight Field  - Jennifer Kriech

USA Today/NFCA Poll
April 25, 1999

Rank School         1999 Record
1. UCLA (25) 49-2 2. Fresno State 52-8 3. Arizona 40-10 4. Michigan 45-7-1 5. Washington 36-13 6. USL 47-9 7. Louisiana State 43-7 8. Oregon State 39-16 9. Oklahoma 37-1210. Arizona State 36-1611. So. Mississippi 46-612. Illinois-Chicago 59-1413. Texas 37-1514. South Carolina 43-1615. Stanford 35-1816. California 34-1717. Massachusetts 34-818. Oregon 35-2019. DePaul 40-1120. New Mexico 38-1021. Texas A&M 37-1622. South Florida 40-2223. Maryland 41-1924. Missouri 34-1625. Pacific 31-17

Others: Iowa, Florida Atlantic, Virginia Tech, Hofstra, Tennessee, Alabama, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Evansville, Michigan State, Hawai’i, Illinois State, Minnesota, Troy State, Cal State Fullerton, Central Michigan, Florida State, Northern Illinois, NOTRE DAME, Southern Illinois.

1999 BIG EAST Players of The Week

March  8 - Megan O'Leary (Villanova)March 15 - Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall)March 22 - Mia Brickhouse (Villanova)March 29 - Amy Laboe (Notre Dame),           Natalie Denning (Seton Hall)April  6 - Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall)April 12 - Juliette Brooks (Rutgers)April 19 - Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall),           Abbie Link (UCONN)April 26 - Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall),           Melanie Alkire (Notre Dame)

1999 – BIG EAST Pitchers of the Week

March  8 -  Kerri Stoller (Villanova)March 15 -  Jenn Berghoff (Seton Hall)March 22 -  Mary Dietz (B. College),            Carrie Walpole (Villanova)March 29 -  Misty Beaver (Seton Hall)April  6 -  Jennifer Sharron (ND),            Megan Biddle (UCONN)April 12 -  Mary Dietz (B. College)April 19 -  Jen Berghoff (Seton Hall)April 26 -  Angela Bessolo (ND)            Misty Beaver (Seton Hall)

1999 – BIG EAST Rookie of the Week

March  8 - Molly Hanneman (Villanova)March 15 - Heather Garboden (Villanova)March 22 - Rhianna Rogers (Pittsburgh)March 29 - Jarrah Myers (Notre Dame)April  6 - Kim Jackson (Seton Hall)April 12 - Caryn Haskins (UCONN)April 19 - Kim Jackson (Seton Hall)April 26 - Rebecca Eimen (ND)

BIG EAST Statistics – Conf. Only (4/26/99)

Team Batting

1. Notre Dame                   (.353)

Team Pitching

1. Notre Dame               (0.90 ERA)

Individual Batting

1. Melanie Alkire, ND           (.528)6. Kris McCleary, ND            (.429)7. Amy Laboe, ND                (.425)

Individual Pitching

2. Jennifer Sharron, ND     (0.38 ERA)3. Angela Bessolo,  ND,     (1.01 ERA)


2. Melanie Alkire             (1.58/g) 4. Amy Laboe                  (1.42/g)7. Jennifer Kriech            (1.25/g)9. Kris McCleary              (1.25/g)

Stolen Bases

3. Jennifer Kriech                 (4)   Rebecca Eimen                   (4)   Lizzy Lemire                    (4)


1. Melanie Alkire                 (14)2. Amy Laboe                      (13)4. Jennifer Kriech                (12)


2. Amy Laboe                       (5)


4. Jarrah Myers                   (11)6. Kris McCleary                  (10)

Team Fielding

2. Notre Dame                   (.970)


1. Jennifer Sharron                (7)2. Angela Bessolo                  (5)


4. Jennifer Sharron               (36)7. Angela Bessolo                 (26)


1. Michelle Moschel                (3)3. Melanie Alkire, Angela Bessolo  (1)

Innings Pitched

8. Jennifer Sharron               (37)


MIDEAST – Michigan, DePaul, Illinois-Chicago, Minnesota, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Penn State, Iowa, NOTRE DAME

NORTHEAST – Massachusetts, Hofstra, Seton Hall, Delaware, Boston U., Boston College, Cornell, Connecticut, Villanova, Canisius

MIDWEST – Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech, Illinois State, Texas A&M, Southern Illinois, Baylor

SOUTH – LSU, S. Mississippi, USL South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland,South Florida, Mississippi State, Florida State

WEST – Fresno State, Hawai’i, CSUFullerton, Pacific, New Mexico, Long Beach St., UCSB, Utah

PACIFIC – UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington, California, Oregon, Stanford, CSU Northridge CSU Sacramento