Kellie Middleton earned her second BIG EAST Player of the Week award on Monday, May 2, after driving in seven runs in conference play over the weekend.

Softball Hits The Road For First BIG EAST Action Of 2005

April 1, 2005

The University of Notre Dame softball team (17-8) will travel to the east coast this weekend for its first BIG EAST Conference action of the 2005 season. The Irish are scheduled to face Rutgers (Saturday) and Villanova (Sunday) before returning to campus on Sunday evening.

Series record vs. opponents and team analysis:
Rutgers: Notre Dame and Rutgers will be meeting for the 24th and 25th time on Saturday (12 p.m., Rutgers Softball Complex) … the Irish lead the all-time series 17-6 and have won the last three straight vs. the Scarlet Knights … Rutgers is 0-20 so far in 2005 and Saturday’s doubleheader will be the BIG EAST opener for both teams … Helen Smith is pacing the Rutgers offense with a .278 batting average, two home runs and eight RBI … the Scarlet Knights have used nine pitchers this season, with Christine Gillman (0-6, 30.2 IP, 6.39 ERA) and Jessica Crosby (0-5, 30.0 IP, 8.17 ERA) seeing the most time in the pitcher’s circle … Notre Dame is 7-2 at the Rutgers Softball Complex.

Villanova: Notre Dame and Villanova will be meeting for the 30th and 31st time on Sunday (11 a.m., Villanova Softball Field) … the Irish lead the all-time series 26-3 and have won the last six meetings … Villanova’s last victory in the series came in 2003 at Ivy Field … Notre Dame has eliminated Villanova from the BIG EAST Championship in each of the last three seasons … Villanova is 19-11 in 2005 … they will open BIG EAST play against Pittsburgh on Saturday … Sheri Donley has led the Wildcats on offense this season, hitting .324 with two home runs and 16 RBI … Kristen Haynes is the staff ace (1.05 ERA, 10-5, 82 Ks in 83.1 IP), while Shannon Williams (1.69 ERA, 9-6, 113 Ks in 91.0 IP) also has been steady in the circle … Notre Dame is 10-0 against Villanova on the Wildcat’s home field in regular-season conference play.

Notre Dame riding season high six game win streak into the weekend: After a tough loss to Marshall in the Buckeye Invitational on March 19, the Irish have bounced back to win six straight games and 13 of their last 15 contests … the Irish have defeated Oakland, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Valparaiso (twice) and Loyola Chicago during the win streak … the team has given up just two runs during the six games while piling up 39 runs scored.

Closer look at the winning streak statistics: Notre Dame has compiled some eye-popping statistics during its recent six-game win streak –

Team ERA – Notre Dame’s ERA over the last six games stands at 0.18 (to 7.07 for its opponents), led by Heather Booth (0.00 ERA, 3-0, one shutout, 17 K in 20 IP).

Team Batting Average – The Irish are hitting .381 in the last six games, have drove in 36 runs, hit four home runs and stolen 10 bases. Individual Batting Averages – Senior Megan Ciolli leads the way with a .556 batting average (10-18) during the win streak, followed closely by Stephanie Brown and Liz Hartmann, who are both hitting .500 during the run. Katie Laing has hit .421 during the streak, while Meagan Ruthrauff (.353) and Carrie Wisen (.333) have also been impressive.

Hits allowed – The Irish have given up just 13 hits to their opponents in the last six games and have posted four shutouts. Carrie Wisen and Heather Booth combined for a five-inning perfect game vs. Valparaiso, while Booth ended up one out away from a no-hitter at Loyola Chicago on Thursday, March 31.

Doubleheader vs. Eastern Michigan will be televised: Comcast Local will televise both games of a doubleheader vs. Eastern Michigan from Ivy Field on Tuesday, April 5. Dan Gutowsky will handle the play-by-play duties while former Irish volunteer assistant coach (and current baseball volunteer assistant coach) John Gumpf will serve as the color commentator.

Here is a look at where and when the tape-delayed broadcast can be viewed:

Comcast Local Michigan –

April 7, 2005 – 7 p.m.

April 9, 2005 – 5 p.m.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago –

April 8, 2005 – 2 p.m. (CT)

Comcast Cable (South Bend area – Comcast Channel 3) –

April 6, 2005 – 10 a.m.

April 6, 2005 – 6 p.m.

Please check with your local cable company to see if the games are available in your area.

Live Audio change: Due to television coverage and limited space in the Ivy Field press box, Live Audio coverage will not be available for the home doubleheader vs. Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, April 5. Live Audio coverage will return on Thursday, April 7, when the Irish face Ball State at 5 p.m.

Lineup expected back to full strength this weekend: Notre Dame has won its last three games in impressive fashion, posting three shutouts over Valparaiso (twice) and Loyola Chicago. The Irish have been without junior starting leftfielder Kellie Middleton in all three games, after she was sidelined by a minor dental surgery last week. Middleton will be back in the lineup for BIG EAST play this weekend.

Junior Mallorie Lenn missed the single game at Loyola Chicago on Thursday, March 31, due to class commitments, but she will be back in the lineup this weekend as well.