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Softball Hosts Loyola (Chicago) On Thursday At 4 p.m.

April 2, 2003

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Notre Dame vs. Loyola, Doubleheader

Thursday, March 3, 4 p.m. & 6 p.m.

Ivy Field * Notre Dame, Ind.

Irish hope to even-up home record with a doubleheader against Loyola (Chicago) on Thursday:

The University of Notre Dame softball team (12-11) is set for its second home doubleheader of the season when it takes on Loyola (Chicago) (15-9) Thursday at 4 p.m.

The Irish have been flirting with the .500 mark lately this season, sweeping a doubleheader at Western Michigan on March 23 to get to 10-9, then falling back to 10-11 when #22 Northwestern grabbed two hard-fought victories at Ivy Field last week. Notre Dame popped back above the .500 mark on Tuesday, when it swept Purdue 7-3 and 7-1.

Challenging weather conditions mean challenging April lies ahead for the team:

It seems that the Irish cannot get a break from the weather this season, and it lost even more games last weekend in BIG EAST action. The first conference doubleheader of the year at Pittsburgh was rained out on March 29, then the Irish were snowed out the next day at Virginia Tech.

Notre Dame has already had a challenging road schedule this season, but the month of April will end up making or breaking the team’s season. The Irish now have 30 games scheduled this month, including the make-up contests with Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.

Make-up dates:

Notre Dame has already set up its make-up date with Pittsburgh. The Irish will head to the Steel City on Wednesday, April 9, to face the Panthers in doubleheader action. Game times have not yet been announced.

The Virginia Tech games will be played in April as well, though the exact date has not yet been determined.

These two doubleheaders are crucial for Notre Dame’s ranking in the BIG EAST Conference. Due to the unusual scoring system developed a year ago and voted into reality by the league’s coaches, a team ends up losing ground in the standings by not playing conference games. The Irish, who did not get to play their BIG EAST games last weekend due to inclement weather, will lose a possible four points if they cannot get the games in this season.

Notre Dame offense finds its groove against Purdue on Tuesday:

The Irish will enter Thursday’s match up with Loyola confident after a solid showing at Purdue on Tuesday. Notre Dame banged out 18 hits in two games against the Boilermakers, featuring a grand slam from Andria Bledsoe and solo home runs from Liz Hartmann and Kellie Middleton.

The Notre Dame offense is beginning to return back to form after struggling at times during the preseason. Andrea Loman leads the team in hitting (.364) and RBI (15), but Megan Ciolli (.329), Meagan Ruthrauff (.316) and Alexis Madrid (.300) are all hitting over .300. Bledsoe (.296) and Hartmann (.262) are also on the verge of reaching that .300 hitting mark.

Notre Dame vs. Loyola-Chicago series history and doubleheader preview:

One of the oldest and longest series in Notre Dame softball history, the Irish and Ramblers will be meeting for the 33rd and 34th time on Thursday. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 27-5 and has won the last four games in a row. Loyola’s last victory came in 11 innings (3-2) in 1999. The teams have met every season since 1989, save for the 1999 season. The Irish are 14-4 at home against Loyola.

The Ramblers are 15-9 this season and 2-1 in Horizon League action. Catcher Susan Scott leads the offense this season with a .358 average, three home runs and 11 RBI. First base Allison Scanlin is hitting .352 with 12 RBI. In the pitching circle, Jenny Rice (2.60 ERA, 5-4) and Lindsey LaChiana (2.85 ERA, 5-3) should see action against Notre Dame.

Head Coach Jamie Gillies (Michigan ’00) is in her first season at Loyola in 2003.

Hartmann continues her home run hitting in ’03:

Sophomore Liz Hartmann set the school record for home runs in a season by a freshman last year, belting eight balls out of the park. This season, Hartmann is beginning to hit her stride in early April. Against Purdue on Tuesday, she rocketed a first-pitch home run in game two and just missed another home run in her next at bat (a strong cross wind knocked the ball down to the top of the wall – Hartmann ended up with a stand-up double). The Novato, Calif., native has a team-high five home runs this season and 13 in her career – a total which puts her fifth on the all-time list.

Notre Dame team members chasing down career records this season:

There are a number of Irish team members ascending the career record charts this season. The senior-captain trio of Alexis Madrid, Andria Bledsoe and Andrea Loman are all approaching the career games played record. Madrid has appeared in 204 career games, Bledsoe 202 and Loman 201. Notre Dame has 34 games remaining on the regular-season schedule this year. Combined with any post season contests, and all three Irish players have a shot at the career games played record of 245, held by Jarrah Myers (1999-2002).

Loman, a top player on the Irish team in all her years with Notre Dame, is threatening a number of career marks. She is third in runs scored (138) behind Jenny Kriech (1999-2002) with 138. She is creeping up the most hits list with 189, needing a strong finish to get in the top five (243). Loman and Bledsoe are both about to appear on the top five in all-time doubles, as Loman has 37 and Bledsoe 34. In fifth-place is Lizzy Lemire with 43 and Melanie Alkire holds the all-time record with 49.

Loman, Bledsoe and Hartmann are all moving up the career home run record list:

1. Jarrah Myers (1999-2002), 36

2. Melanie Alkire (1998-2001), 30

3. Sara Hayes (1992-95), 26

4. Andrea Loman, 25

5. Meghan Murray (1994-97), 15

Liz Hartmann, 13

Andria Bledsoe, 12

Loman is also within reach of the career walks record (needing just two more to break Jarrah Myers’ career mark of 76) and stolen bases mark (Loman has 49, needing 10 more this season to break Katie Marten’s record of 58 from 1994-97).

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).

Bledsoe enjoys first career grand slam:

Even as senior short stop Andria Bledsoe closes in on the top five all-time in career home runs, she has never hit one with the bases loaded until Tuesday’s doubleheader at Purdue. Bledsoe liked the second pitch she saw in her second at bat on Tuesday, blasting a bases loaded grand slam for her fourth home run of the season. The Higley, Ariz., native had hit a grand slam in the fall exhibition season of 2001.

Middleton proves her prowess against Purdue:

Freshman Kellie Middleton has been struggling at the plate early this season, but when she makes contact, the ball can go a long way. Middleton blasted her second home run of the season against Purdue on Tuesday, but the build up to that at bat might mean more than the homer itself.

In her previous at bat in game two, Middleton continually fought off pitch after pitch, eventually seeing 16 pitches in the plate appearance. She drew a walk, stole second and immediately stole third base when Purdue failed to cover (her fourth and fifth thefts of the season). Her next time in the batter’s box, Middleton launched her home run. She currently has two home runs, five RBI and three walks this year.

Hottest hitter on the team? Alexis Madrid:

Senior second base Alexis Madrid has seen her batting average skyrocket over the last 10 games. Beginning with a two for two performance against Northwestern State, she has raised her average from a pedestrian .226 mark to .300 entering Thursday’s games. Madrid has put up 12 hits in the last 10 games, along with a double, triple and two RBI.

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).

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 April 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.

2002 BIG EAST 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, Lafayette, Louisiana for the Louisiana Classic and Fullerton, Calif., for the 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 .364 (24 hits in 66 AB) with three home runs and 15 RBI. She also has stolen seven 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 spent 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.

Two months ago Notre Dame was at the challenging NFCA Leadoff Classic taking on defending national champion #4 California, Illinois State and #17 Alabama. The Irish also went to the west coast for the 2003 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif. Notre Dame faced 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.