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Softball Enters The Kia Klassic On Thursday

March 12, 2003

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2003 Kia Klassic

Fullerton, Calif. * Thursday, March 13 – Sunday, March 16

Notre Dame vs. Fresno State, Thursday, March 13, 3 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. #4 Nebraska, Thursday, March 13, 7 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. #13 DePaul, Friday, March 14, 11 a.m.

Championship play begins Friday, March 14, 5 p.m.

Irish looking forward to Kia Klassic challenge:

The University of Notre Dame softball team (7-7) completes is early season tournament schedule this weekend, entering the Kia Klassic for the fourth straight season. Hosted by Cal State Fullerton, the Kia Klassic is one of the premier tournaments in the nation, featuring UNLV, CS Northridge, #6 Oklahoma, #12 Arizona State, #4 Nebraska, Notre Dame, Fresno State, #13 DePaul, Hawai’i, #3 Texas, #8 CS Fullerton, #5 Washington, #1 Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette, Long Beach State and #16 Florida State. The 16 teams are split into four different pools and each team will play each other. After pool play, the teams are designated for championship play. In championship play, a team is guaranteed at least two games.

Notre Dame has played well in the Kia Klassic over the last three years, posting a 9-8 (.529) overall record. The Irish have defeated #16 Louisiana-Lafayette (’00), #6 Oklahoma (’00) and #10 Arizona State (’01).

Series history vs. Fresno State and game preview:

Notre Dame and Fresno State will be meeting for the third time Thursday. The series is tied 1-1, with the Irish defeating the Bulldogs 4-2 in the 2001 Kia Klassic and Fresno getting a 3-2 victory at the ’02 Klassic.

Fresno State is 5-12 this season, with six of its losses coming to ranked teams. The Bulldogs are paced on offense by Christina Clark (.281 BA, four HR, 10 RBI). Jamie Southern has seen the bulk of the pitching duties for the Bulldogs (66.1 IP) and has a 4-6 record, 0.63 ERA and 94 Ks.

Series history vs. Nebraska and game preview:

Notre Dame and #4 Nebraska renew their spirited rivalry on Friday. Though the Irish have only won one of the previous six meetings, the meetings between the two teams since Deanna Gumpf (’92 Nebraska graduate) took over the Notre Dame program have been highly competitive.

The Irish and Huskers met twice last season. Notre Dame defeated fourth-ranked Nebraska 3-2 in Lincoln on April 23, on a three-run home run by Liz Hartmann in the top of the seventh inning.

Nebraska came back to get a measure of revenge in the NCAA Region VII tournament in Iowa City, Iowa. The Cornhuskers defeated Notre Dame 5-3 to advance to the Women’s College World Series.

Lisa Wangler has been dominating at the plate for Nebraska this season. She is currently hitting .444 with 24 hits, 12 runs, five home runs and 23 RBI. The Cornhuskers also have two solid pitchers in Summer Tobias (6-1, 1.07 ERA, 39.1 IP) and Peaches James (8-1, 1.35 ERA, 62.0 IP).

The meeting on Thursday will be the first of three between Notre Dame and Nebraska this season. The Irish will return to Lincoln on April 15 for a doubleheader.

Series history vs. DePaul and game preview:

One of the longest and most competitive series in Notre Dame softball history resumes on Friday when Notre Dame meets DePaul. The Blue Demons lead the all-time series 21-14-1, but Notre Dame has won the last four meetings. De Paul has been ranked in each of those last four meetings as well.

Similar to the match up with Nebraska, Friday’s game with the Blue Demons is the first of three between the two schools this season. Notre Dame will head to Chicago for a doubleheader with DePaul on April 29.

DePaul is 10-3 this season and ranked 13th in the nation. One of the best hitting teams in the nation, the Blue Demons have three hitters over .350, led by Sarah Martz (.415). Lindsay Chouinard is the staff ace, boasting a 6-2 record, 0.76 ERA and 46 Ks in 59.0 IP.

Mattison starting to step up her production:

Senior first base Lisa Mattison has delivered for Notre Dame over the last three games. The Granger, Ind., native owns the game-winning hit in each of Notre Dame’s last three victories. Her two-run double against CS Northridge on Sunday provided the winning margin in Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory. She also hit a home run in the first game of the doubleheader. Mattison has five hits and six RBI over the last five Irish games.

Rookie DP Ruthrauff has been a steady offensive weapon:

Freshman DP Meagan Ruthrauff has been among the offensive leaders for Notre Dame since she first stepped on the field this season. Ruthrauff is currently first on the team in batting average (.356) with 16 hits in 45 AB. She is tied with Andrea Loman for the team lead in doubles with five and has drove in six runs this season. She hit her first career home run at Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 28, kick-starting Notre Dame’s eventual 8-5 come-from-behind victory.

Booth ends up two outs away from her first career no-hitter:

Freshman righthander Heather Booth is off to a solid start in her first collegiate season, posting a 5-3 record this season with a 2.08 ERA and 36 Ks. She has thrown two complete games and Notre Dame’s only shut out this season.

Against CS Northridge last Sunday, the rookie came two outs away from her first career no-hitter. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Booth was finally touched for a double to right field. The run eventually scored after a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly, robbing Booth of her chance at a second shut out this season.

Madrid on a three-game hitting streak:

Senior Alexis Madrid has raised her batting average over .120 points over the last three games, going six for nine with five runs scored and the team’s only triple of the season. The Temecula, Calif., native has four multi-hit games this season.

Irish infield catching the ball well:

The Notre Dame team defense has been a strength over the last three years and it is no coincidence that those are the years Andrea Loman, Andria Bledose and Alexis Madrid have been in the line up. The senior trio, who are serving as team captains this season as well, have been among the team offensive leaders, but it is their defense that stands out.

The trio helped Notre Dame set a team record for fielding percentage last year and are on pace for similar results this season. Loman at third has committed just one error in 45 chances, while Bledsoe at short stop and Madrid at second base are perfect on defense. Fellow senior Lisa Mattison, in her second season starting at first, has been steady as well. Mattison has just two errors in 97 chances (.980).

Notre Dame’s current team fielding percentage is .974 with 11 errors in 409 chances.

Bledsoe snaps out of slump with offensive explosion at the Louisiana Classic:

Senior co-captain and short stop Andria Bledsoe was one of the main reasons Notre Dame returned from Louisiana with a 6-6 record two weeks ago. Bledsoe hinted at breaking out of her early-season slump against #17 Alabama on Feb. 23, going three for four at the plate with an RBI. She continued that hot hitting two weeks ago at the Louisiana Classic, as she was six for 14 (.429) with three home runs and four RBI. The Higley, Ariz., native also scored seven runs during the ULL tournament.

Bledsoe has raised her batting average from .111 just six games ago to a respectable .302 entering this weekend’s tournament. She leads the team with 10 runs scored this season.

Hartmann continues late-inning heroics:

Sophomore Liz Hartmann hammered a freshman school-record seven home runs last season, none more memorable than her three-run shot in the top of the seventh to down #4 Nebraska in Lincoln.

A text book clutch hitter, Hartmann rose to the occasion at last weekend’s tournament in Lafayette, La. Entering the bottom of the seventh and down by one run, Hartmann led off with a solo home run to tie the game. The teams eventually entered extra innings and Hartmann ended the game in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run home run.

Hartmann eventually earned all-tournament honors while chalking up five hits, three home runs and five RBI during the five games.

Notre Dame single-game home run record has even more company:

Notre Dame’s original single-game home run record was set in 1990 when Sheri Quinn hit two home runs against Loyola-Chicago. Since that day on March 24, 1990, the feat has been matched 14 times. Andria Bledsoe and Liz Hartmann hit two home runs each in Notre Dame’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 28. Hartmann was already a member of the record-holding club after hitting two bombs against Oakland in 2002.

In all, five current Notre Dame players are among the nine in school history who have hit two home runs in one game. Jarrah Myers (1999-2002) is the only Notre Dame player to hit two home runs in a game three times in her career – against Virginia Tech (4-30-02), Seton Hall (4-30-00) and CS Northridge (3-11-01).

New national poll:

USA Softball, in conjuncture with and the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) have formed a new national poll. See page seven of this notes package for both the ESPN/USA Softball poll and the USA Today/NFCA top 25.

Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf in her second season:

Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf led her team to a 44-17 record in 2002 – her first season as the program’s leader. A former assistant at Notre Dame and player at Nebraska (’92), Gumpf and her staff landed the BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year award and shared the NFCA Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year award with Wisconsin last season.

Among Notre Dame’s many accomplishments in 2002, the Irish advanced to the final day of competition at the NCAA regionals for the second-consecutive season, won the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles and set school records for home runs (54) and fielding percentage (.971).

Irish team strength lies in veteran infield:

There is no secret where the Notre Dame team strength lies this season. Three-year starters Andrea Loman (third base), Andria Bledsoe (short stop) and Alexis Madrid (second base) return to lead the team this season on offense, defense and as team tri-captains.

All three players have key roles in Notre Dame’s offensive numbers and defensive prowess. The Irish set a team record for fielding percentage in 2002 (.971) and committed just 50 errors on 1,678 chances. Notre Dame also hit a team-record 54 home runs in ’02.

Loman excels on offense and defense and is widely regarded as one of the best third basemen in the country.

The Riverside, Calif., native led the team with a .377 average last season, putting up 12 home runs, 43 RBI and 66 hits. She ranks in the top five all-time in Notre Dame history for fielding percentage.

Bledsoe is among the Irish leaders on offense and defense as well. The Higley, Ariz., native drove in 43 runs last year on 56 hits. She also hit a career-best seven home runs and was steady on defense, compiling a .970 fielding percentage.

Madrid dropped from hitting over .300 in 2001 to a .225 clip last season. She did steal 10 bases (third-best on the team) and contributed 95 assists on defense. One of the best sacrifice bunters and hitters on the Irish team, Madrid has already posted two sacrifice hits this season.

Notre Dame’s infield also features two-time first-team all-BIG EAST selection Lisa Mattison at first base. Mattison hit .325 in ’02 with 27 RBI and four home runs.

Two Irish players on player-of-the-year watch list:

The ASA has announced its initial watch list for the second annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

Notre Dame’s Andrea Loman and Megan Ciolli were among the 40 players on the watch list.

The award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in women’s collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

The initial watch list is comprised of 40 players that represent 23 college and 11 different collegiate conference. Even if a player doesn’t appear on the initial watch list, they are still eligible for the award. The first 25 finalists will be announced on May 13th, then down to 10 on April 29th and three on May 13th. The winner will be announced at the 2003 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

California girls:

Just a quick glance at the 2003 Notre Dame softball roster can beg the question; is the Notre Dame campus located on the west coast?

In all, 10 Irish players call California home – that is over 50% of the roster. Add in head coach Deanna Gumpf (La Palma) and the Notre Dame softball team has a distinctive Golden State flavor.

The California girls: Steffany Stenglein (Huntington Beach), Carrie Wisen (Fullerton), Jessica Sharron (Agoura Hills), Liz Hartmann (Novato), Chantal DeAlcuaz (Modesto), Alexis Madrid (Temecula), Mallorie Lenn (Garden Grove), Heather Booth (Riverside), Andrea Loman (Riverside) and Meagan Ruthrauff (La Mirada).

Notre Dame preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST Conference:

The BIG EAST Conference has released its 2002 preseason softball poll and the University of Notre Dame softball team ended up as the top choice, as voted on by the league’s coaches, to win the 2003 league championship. The Irish received 99 points in the conference’s preseason release, ahead of Syracuse in second place (85) and Villanova (75) in third. Notre Dame received nine first-place votes, while Villanova and Virginia Tech each received one.


Preseason Softball Poll

Rank, team, (first place votes), points, ’02 record

1. Notre Dame (9), 99 pts., 44-17

2. Syracuse, 85 pts., 25-21

3. Villanova (1), 75 pts., 45-15

4. Virginia Tech (1), 71 pts., 42-18

5. Seton Hall, 69 pts., 29-17

6. Boston College, 63 pts., 26-26

7. St. John’s, 36 pts., 23-30-1

8. Rutgers, 35 pts., 22-25

9. Connecticut, 31 pts., 5-15

10. Pittsburgh, 30 pts., 21-33

11. Providence, 11 pts., 5-15

Mallorie Lenn wins gold medal with the U.S. Junior National team:

Freshman Mallorie Lenn landed a spot on the U.S. Junior National team that eventually won the First Junior Women’s Pan American Championship in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Lenn, from Garden Grove, Calif., was one of the starting catchers on the U.S. team that did not surrender a single run during the tournament. The team was potent on offense as well, dispatching Netherlands Antilles 21-0, Guatemala 20-0 and Jamaica 20-0.

The U.S.’s main competition in the tournament was Canada, and in the first match up during round-robin play Lenn provided the game-winning RBI in her team’s 1-0 victory. Lenn also served as the catcher for the gold-medal game against Canada (a 2-0 U.S. victory).

The victory provided the USA with a berth in the 2003 International Softball Federation Junior Women’s World Championships in Nanjin, China, during the summer of 2003.

All-Time Record:

Entering the 2003 season, Notre Dame softball has posted 556 wins in 14 seasons (almost 40 wins per season). The Irish have won 67% of their games and have never posted a losing season.

Road Warriors:

February isn’t the best time to play softball in Northern Indiana, so the Notre Dame softball team hits the road exclusively during the first two months of the season to take on some of the best teams in the nation. In just the last five years, Notre Dame has visited Arizona, Georgia, California, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nevada, Hawaii and Oklahoma in early-season tournament action. This year, the Irish have already visited Tampa, Fla., for the USF/Wilson Tournament and Columbus, Ga., for the NFCA Leadoff Classic and Lafayette, Louisiana for the Louisiana Classic. This weekend’s destination will be Southern California for Spring Break and the 2003 Kia Klassic.

Loman among the best at her position:

Already known as one of the best in the Midwest prior to the 2002 season, senior Andrea Loman finally earned national acclaim for her spectacular play at the end of Notre Dame’s ’02 campaign. Loman earned third-team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-American accolades in addition to being named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player.

Loman is currently batting .333 (15 hits in 45 AB) with two home runs and nine RBI. She also has stolen four bases this season.

Loman excels both offensively and defensively for Notre Dame, driving in runs and taking away many players ability to drop a bunt down the third-base line. Loman’s .962 fielding percentage for the ’02 season is impressive by itself (219 chances) but six of her eight errors were committed after she broke a finger on her throwing hand in a doubleheader at Seton Hall. Her career fielding percentage stands at .981 entering the 2003 season.

Not just a power hitter, Loman is able to hit for average (.377 in ’02) and steal bases when she gets on (a team-high 16 stolen bases last season).

Irish will not back down from the best in the country:

In what has become an annual tradition for the Notre Dame softball team, the Irish will spend the first two month of the season crisscrossing the country and taking on the best teams in the nation.

Notre Dame began the year on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 at the USF/Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla., facing traditional power South Florida and several NCAA east regional teams, including Hofstra and Rhode Island. South Florida has recently debuted in the national top 25 at #24.

Last weekend Notre Dame was at the challenging NFCA Leadoff Classic taking on defending national champion #4 California, Illinois State and #17 Alabama. The Irish head west for the 2003 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif. next weekend. Notre Dame will face Fresno State, #4 Nebraska and #13 DePaul at the Kia this year. Notre Dame’s regular-season schedule also features the Cornhuskers and Blue Demons in April.