Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Softball Continues Climb In National Poll

April 12, 2000

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Stock On The Rise: The Notre Dame softball team continued its rise into national prominence, moving up three spots to a #18 national ranking in Wednesday’s USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I poll. The Irish were ranked 21st for two weeks after entering the poll at the 22nd position, March 24. The team received just one vote in the preseason poll.

Sharron Tabbed For Honors: Two-time conference pitcher of the year junior Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) has been named the BIG EAST pitcher of the week for her efforts in the team’s three games last week. It is the first weekly honor for Sharron this season.

Sharron went 2-0 with a save in three appearances last week, leading the Irish to a 3-0 record. She also gave up just two runs, while logging 19 strikeouts in 11.1 innings for a 11.98 strikeout ratio. Against Villanova, the Irish southpaw pitched a combined one-hitter, allowing just one base runner and earning her second combined shutout (10th overall) of the season.

To Be The Best: At 29-9, the Notre Dame softball team has its best record ever in the program’s 12-year history. The next best is the 1996 team’s 28-10 record.

Weather Owned The Week: After their Tuesday doubleheader against DePaul was canceled due to inclement weather, the elements continued to play havoc in the team’s softball plans. Against Western Michigan, the Irish and Broncos were literally blown out of their game at Ebert Field in Kalamazoo, Mich., as the teams decided to play only one game of their scheduled doubleheader. Three days later, Notre Dame’s BIG EAST home doubleheader with Rutgers was canceled due to both rain and snow. The team finally got all of its scheduled games in Sunday versus Villanova.

Weekend Notes and Gloats: Playing only three games last week, the Notre Dame softball team still managed to record some notables … in the Villanova series, the Irish went down in order only once in their turn at bat in 10 innings … the Irish have not committed an error defensively in the last six games and in 18 total this season … one streak did end this week, the team’s string of consecutive double-digit team hits ended at four when the Irish tallied only seven in the second half of the doubleheader with Villanova … for the season, Notre Dame has reached double digits in team hits 10 times with a high of 16 against Kent State and a low of three versus Virginia Tech.

When Will We Meet Again?: After the Notre Dame-Rutgers games were canceled on Saturday, the two teams will only make up their conference doubleheader if it figures into which teams advance to the four-team BIG EAST Tournament, scheduled for May 5-7 at Boston College. One other doubleheader, the Villanova-Pittsburgh games, were also canceled Saturday.

BIG EAST Shake-up: Parity has been the name of the game thus far in the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish sit atop the standing with a 5-1 record, while two team – Connecticut and St. John’s – are tied for second at 5-3. St. John’s, which swept its series with Connecticut Monday, is the conference’s biggest surprise after going 3-13 in conference play in 1999.

Action – Scouting the Field: The Irish will renew some of the program’s oldest rivalries this week when they play host to three non-conference doubleheaders Wednesday against Butler, Thursday versus DePaul and Sunday against Loyola-Chicago. A BIG EAST doubleheader with rival Boston College also is on the team’s table this week in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Saturday.

The Bulldogs: Butler will be looking for its first win over the Irish since 1992 and only its third in the 26-game series when the two teams face-off Wednesday. The Bulldogs, under first-year head coach Dirk Welch, have struggled this season with a 9-24 record and are currently on a eight-game skid. Eight of their losses have been to past or current Irish opponents including St. John’s, Kentucky, Loyola-Chicago, Eastern Michigan, Purdue and Illinois-Chicago.

Butler freshman outfielder Katie Higgins leads the teams in batting average with a .280 mark. Jeri Keller, who is second on the team in batting (.269), and senior Carolyn Stoddard are first and second in RBI with 11 and 10 respectively. On the mound, freshman Melissa Benter (5-11) and junior Stephanie Burlein (2-11) have seen the majority of the team’s starting time.

The Blue Demons: A season removed from their trip to the 1999 College World Series, DePaul is 15-14 overall with a 3-1 mark in Conference USA. The Blue Demons, under head coach Eugene Lenti, are led by outfielder Shavaughne Desecki, who is hitting .322 with four home runs and 10 RBI. Pitchers Lindsay Choinard (9-4), Vanessa Saavedra (2-6) and Ashley Ivey (4-4) have kept the Blue Demons in games with a 1.69 team earned-run average.

The two teams’ meeting last season was canceled due to rain. The Blue Demons have won five of the last six meetings.

Friend or Foe?: The Irish will see a familiar face in the opposing team’s dugout Thursday when former Notre Dame standout Sara Hayes (Notre Dame ?95), an assistant coach at DePaul, returns to her alma mater. Hayes holds five Notre Dame career records for games played (232), at bats (720), home runs (26), RBI (137) and walks (66). She also was the MCC Player of the Year in 1995.

The Eagles: The Irish will travel to the site of this year’s BIG EAST Tournament Saturday when they play Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Eagles have struggled this season, going 8-13, including a seven-game skid to open the season. Under head coach Jen Finley, BC is led offensively by freshman Cara Blumfield, who is hitting .353 with a pair of home runs. Second team all-BIG EAST selection catcher Summer Jarratt also returns, as do seniors Chris Vicari and Lauren Fischetti.

The most notable absence from a Boston College squad which went 27-20 in 1999, is pitcher Mary Dietz, who is listed on the team’s roster but has not played this season. Dietz is a three-time all-BIG EAST first team selection.

The Ramblers: Former Notre Dame assistant, now Loyola head coach Stephenie Henderson brings her Loyola Ramblers to Ivy Field Sunday for a doubleheader slated for 2 p.m. Loyola currently has a respectable 16-11 record with wins over Illinois Chicago (3-2), Northern Illinois, Wisconsin (3-0) and Western Michigan.

Outfielder Katie Blackmore is first on the team in batting with a .357 mark, while Yasmin Khan (.324) and Susan Scott (.303) are also hitting above .300. First baseman Aimee Mortel is tops on the team in RBI with 16 and pitchers Erin Smith (8-5) and Carole Gorecki (7-4) have seen most of the starting time in the circle.

Henderson’s first trip back to Ivy Field also will be furthered by the return of another former Irish standout Ruth Kmak (Notre Dame ?92), who played for the Irish from 1989-92. Kmak is an assistant coach for the Ramblers.

Within the Ranks: In the second set of NCAA statistics published this week, the Irish appear in six categories. Junior Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) moved from ninth to eighth in runs batted in with 42, pitcher Jennifer Sharron is 50th in earned-run average with a 1.12 mark and sophomore pitcher Michelle Moschel (Naples, Fla.) is tied for 18th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.6). The team’s batting average is 10th nationally (.312), its fielding percentage is ranked 15th (.970) and the team’s winning percentage (.763) is 19th-best in the country.

The Benefits of the Big Switch: In the first of four regional rankings by the NCAA Division I Softball Committee released Thursday, March 30, the Irish softball team was ranked first in the Northeast Region. Also appearing in the first regional rankings of 2000 are BIG EAST foes Connecticut (second) and Villanova (fifth).

The Irish are making their first appearance in the Northeast Region after being ranked as a member of the Mideast Region last year, where they finished the season in the number 10 slot. The bi-weekly rankings are used as a part of the championship tournament selection process and consist of six regions with 10 teams apiece. The next rankings are slated for release on Thursday, April 13.

Record Breakers: The 2000 Irish have already broken or tied three school records.

  • Most RBI in a game (6) by Melanie Alkire vs. San Diego State (3/12) beating the previous record of five by seven people.
  • Most consecutive team shutouts (5) from March 4-12, beating the previous record of four.
  • Most home runs in a game (2) by Andrea Loman vs. Texas, tying the record set by four other people.

Going Yard: After hitting just four home runs as a team in 1998, Notre Dame erupted for a team record 29 in 1999, beating the previous school record of 17 set in 1994.

This season, the Irish return four of the six players who tallied home runs in 1999, led by junior Melanie Alkire who belted a school-record and career-best 10. So far in 2000, the team has already hit 18 by six different players.

Team Home Runs By Year
1989 – Four by three players
1990 – Seven by three players
1991 – None
1992 – Nine by three players
1993 – Seven by three players
1994 – 17 by five players
1995 – 11 by four players
1996 – Six by three players
1997 – 14 by four players
1998 – Four by three players
1999 – 29 by six players
2000 – 18 by six players

Miller’s 300th: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller is in her eighth season at Notre Dame (305-144) and her 25th season overall (846-286). Recently, she earned her 300th win at Notre Dame against BIG EAST Conference foe Connecticut in the team’s 3-0 win back on March 31.

Miller directed the Irish to three BIG EAST South Division titles from 1996-98, while the team went undefeated in capturing both the BIG EAST regular season and conference championships in 1999. Before being hired at Notre Dame, Miller was the head softball coach at Lake Michigan College where she amassed a 541-142 record in 17 seasons.

2000 Schedule/Results

Record: 29-9 (5-1 BE)

Date Opponent Time/Result
at UNLV Softball Classic (Las Vegas, Nev.)
2/18 vs. Portland St. W, 5-3
vs. Southern Utah W, 8-0 (5)
2/19 vs. Oregon L, 3-11
vs. UCSB W, 3-0
2/20 vs. Utah W, 2-1
at Morning News Inv. (Fayetteville, Ark.)
2/25 vs. Missouri (DH) L, 4-5 (10), L, 3-4
2/26 at Arkansas (DH L, 2-4, W, 2-1
2/27 vs. Virginia (DH) W, 1-0, W, 6-1
at Stateline Univ. Classic (Bristol, Tenn.)
3/4 vs. Tennessee W, 4-0
vs. Virginia Tech W, 1-0 (8)
3/5 vs. Kentucky W, 8-0 (5)
vs. Virginia Tech W, 3-0
3/12 at SDSU (DH) W, 3-0, W, 11-3
3/14 at Loyola Marymount W, 4-0
at Kia Classic (Fullerton, Calif.)
3/15 vs. CSU Northridge W, 1-0
3/16 vs. #3 Arizona State L, 1-2
3/17 vs. Texas W, 4-2
3/18 vs. #16 La.-Lafayette W, 4-2
3/18 vs. #6 Oklahoma W, 4-2
3/19 vs. #2 Arizona L, 3-6
3/23 Purdue (DH) W, 8-0 (6), L, 1-2
at Purdue Tournament (West Lafayette, Ind.)
3/25 vs. Kent State W, 12-4 (6)
vs. #13 Michigan L, 1-5
3/26 vs. Toledo W, 12-1 (5)
at Purdue W, 4-0
3/29 Eastern Michigan W, 5-2
3/31 Connecticut* (DH) L, 4-5, W, 3-0
4/2 Providence* (DH) W, 16-0, W, 9-3
4/6 at Western Mich. (DH) W, 6-1
4/8 Rutgers* (DH) Canceled
4/9 Villanova* (DH) W, 9-0 (5), W, 5-1
4/12 Butler (DH) 4 p.m.
4/13 DePaul (DH) 3 p.m.
4/15 at Boston Coll.* (DH) 11 a.m.
4/16 Loyola-Chicago (DH) 2 p.m.
4/18 Indiana State (DH) 4 p.m.
4/20 Oakland (DH) 4 p.m.
4/22 at Pittsburgh* (DH) 11 a.m.
4/26 Illinois-Chicago (DH) 4 p.m.
4/29 at St. John’s* (DH) 12 p.m.
4/30 at Seton Hall* (DH) 12 p.m.
5/5-7 BIG EAST Tournament
(Chestnut Hill, Mass.) TBA
5/18-21 NCAA Regionals TBA
5/25-29 NCAA College World Series
(Oklahoma City, Okla.) TBA

USA Today/NFCA Div. I Poll (4/12/00)

Rank Team (1st Pl. Vts.) W-L Votes LR
1. Washington (27) 41-4 675 1
2. Arizona 42-4 645 2
3. UCLA 31-5 619 3
4. Arizona State 36-8 578 4
5. Fresno State 36-9 551 5
6. Oklahoma 43-5 547 6
7. LSU 37-7 500 8
8. California 39-11 490 7
9. Stanford 33-9 459 9
10. S. Mississippi 39-10 430 10
11. Alabama 46-7 391 13
12. Michigan 28-7 360 11
13. Iowa 27-7 334 14
14. Oregon State 26-12-1 324 12
15. (tie) Long Beach St. 30-13 268 15
Louisiana-Lafayette 32-11 268 17
17. Cal State Fullerton 31-11 248 16
18. Notre Dame 29-9 196 21
19. South Carolina 29-17 160 18
20. Mississippi State 31-15 125 19
21. Florida Atlantic 47-13 115 23
22. Oklahoma State 29-15 106 20
23. Oregon 24-16 84 22
24. East Carolina 43-7 67 24
25. Illinois-Chicago 37-20 56 25

Others Receiving Votes: Nebraska (37), Texas A&M (29), North Carolina (20), Wisconsin (19), Missouri (16), New Mexico (15), Hofstra (7), Southwest Texas State (6), Florida (5), Pacific (5), Penn State (2).

Irish vs. Upcoming Opponents

Butler (24-2):
1999: W, 2-1, W, 2-0
1998: W, 5-3, W, 7-0
1997: W, 8-3, W, 8-1

DePaul (9-19-1):
1998: L, 4-5, L, 0-1, L, 1-3,
1997: L, 0-4, L, 4-10 (8)
1995: W, 3-0

Boston College (6-4):
1999: W, 7-0, W, 8-1, W, 9-4
1998: L, 2-3, W, 1-0
1997: L, 0-2, L, 3-5, L, 1-3

Loyola-Chicago (23-5):
1999: L, 2-3 (11)
1998: W, 8-4, W, 7-5
1995: L, 6-9 (15), W, 9-0

BIG EAST Weekly Honors

BIG EAST Players of the WeekApril 11 - Debbie DeJong, RutgersApril 3 -  Lisa Girolamo, ConnecticutMarch 27 - Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame           Vickie Lamb, Seton HallMarch 20 - Megan Biddle, ConnecticutMarch 13 - Melanie Alkire, Notre DameBIG EAST Pitchers of the WeekApril 11 - Jennifer Sharron, Notre DameApril 3 -  Keri Stoller, Villanova           Leah Black, RutgersMarch 27 - Barbara Cook, ConnecticutMarch 20 - Michelle Moschel, Notre DameMarch 13 - Barbara Cook, ConnecticutBIG EAST Rookies of the WeekApril 11 - Kim Ryan, Boston College           Courtney Fitzgerald, St. John'sApril 3 -  Andria Bledsoe, Notre DameMarch 27 - Christina Shanko, Seton HallMarch 20 - Andrea Loman, Notre Dame           Kelly Hulpa, PittsburghMarch 13 - Andria Bledsoe, Notre Dame