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Softball Kicks off 1999 Season

February 16, 1999

IRISH READY FOR TOURNAMENT SEASON; GLAD TO BE STARTING IN FLORIDA: For the second straight season, the Irish will begin their season starting with the Gladstones Tournament hosted by South Florida. In three days of games, the Irish will play five games against some of the top competition in the nation including sixth-ranked South Florida and Kansas.

The next weekend, Notre Dame will travel to Chattanooga, Tenn., for another four games against first-time opponents Tennessee-Martin, Liberty and Maryland, and second-time foe Tennessee-Chattanooga.

The first two road trips will be followed by a week-long trip out West to Arizona, for the prestigious Hillenbrand Tournament, and to California for the National Invitational Tournament hosted by San Jose State University.

NOTRE DAME PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN THE BIG EAST: In a poll of conference coaches, the Irish have been picked to finish second behind Boston College in the BIG EAST. The Irish received three first-place votes, two less than the Eagles. Rutgers also got one first-place vote and finished third in the voting. The other teams in order included: Connecticut, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Halls and Pittsburgh, which is in its first year of BIG EAST play.

SHARRON, LEMIRE GARNER PRESEASON HONORS: Two Notre Dame players, 1998 BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-year Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) and sophomore outfielder Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.), were selected to the 1999 Preseason All-BIG EAST team in a vote of conference coaches. Sharron joins Boston College’s Mary Dietz as one of two pitchers on the 12-member team, while Lemire is one of three outfielders. Dietz along with Rutgers’ catcher Angie Catalano were also honored as preseason pitcher and player of the year respectively.

BIG EAST UNVEILS NEW CONFERENCE FORMAT: This season there will be just one division instead of the North/South format when BIG EAST Conference play begins. The nine teams (Pittsburgh is in its first season) will play each other twice, making each conference game all the more important to advance to the four-team championships held this season in Storrs, Conn.

PITTSBURGH TO BEGIN FIRST SEASON: Pittsburgh becomes the newest team to join the BIG EAST Conference in softball. The Panthers played an abbreviated schedule in 1997, finishing 0-12 under first-year head coach Michelle Phalen. This year’s Pittsburgh roster includes freshman pitcher/outfielder Gina Bessolo, sister of Notre Dame senior pitcher Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.).

IRISH SIGN FOUR TO LETTERS OF INTENT: On November 12, Irish head coach Liz Miller announced the signings of four high school seniors to national letters of intent. Shortstop Andria Bledsoe (Higley, Ariz.), infielder Andrea Loman (Riverside, Calif.), middle infielder Alexis Madrid (Temecula, Calif.) and first baseman/catcher Lisa Mattison (Granger, Ind.) will make up Notre Dame’s class of 2003.

“We’re very excited about this class,” Miller said. “I think it’s one of the top recruiting classes we’ve ever had.”

Bledsoe earned all-conference honors a year ago while batting .406 for Highland High School in Gilbert, Ariz. She also plays with L’il Saints during the summer travel season and earned the team’s Golden Glove award for defense in 1997.

Loman was recently named a 1998 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) All-American while playing for the Southern California Athletics. She also was a member of the 12-and-under ASA national championship team and the 14-and-under national runner-up. At Poly High School, Loman was an all-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), all-county and all-league selection.

Madrid, another 1998 ASA All-American, is a two-time first-team all-league selection at shortstop for Temecula Valley High School. She is a scholar-athlete with a 3.9 grade-point average and serves as team captain.

Mattison will be used next year at catcher and first base. She earned all-city, all-league, all-district and all-region honors in both Michigan (as a freshman) and in Indiana, while playing for Penn High School over the past two seasons. Mattison, the daughter of Notre Dame football defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, plays summer ball for Foster Oil in Ann Arbor, Mich.

MCCLEARY TABBED IN WOMEN’S PRO SOFTBALL DRAFT: Senior catcher Kris McCleary (Westerville, Ohio) was chosen with the 43rd pick of the Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL) senior draft by the Virginia Roadsters in the eighth round on Dec. 5, 1998.

McCleary (Westerville, Ohio) has been a three-year starter at the catching position for the Irish. Last season, she played in all 56 games and hit .257 with 37 hits, six doubles, 13 runs batted in and a .319 slugging percentage. Defensively, the team’s 1999 co-captain had 204 put-outs, 36 assists and a .980 fielding percentage. McCleary was also a second team all-BIG EAST selection as a sophomore in 1997.

“I’m honored to have been selected,” said McCleary, who expects to join the Roadsters following the 1999 collegiate season. “Now I don’t have to hang up my cleats and can continue to play, which is what I’ve always wanted.”

McCleary becomes the third Notre Dame softball player to have been chosen by the three-year-old WPSL, which includes six teams located in the Eastern part of the United States. Meghan Murray, a two-time BIG EAST player of the year, played for the Tampa Bay FireStix after graduating from Notre Dame in 1997. Murray was a fourth round draft pick (21st overall), while classmate Katie Marten, a two-time All-American, was also chosen by the Virginia Roadsters in the sixth round (32nd overall) in 1997.

SCOUTING THIS WEEK’S OPPONENTS: Last season, the Irish went 1-4 at the Gladstones Tournament with a 7-2 win over Kansas on Feb. 20. Against this year’s opponents, South Florida, Georgia Tech, Miami (Ohio), Tennessee and Kansas, the Irish are leading the all-time series against Georgia Tech (1-0) and Kansas (3-1), while the team has never played Tennessee.

South Florida: The Irish will face the Bulls in the Notre Dame’s season-opener for the second-straight season. South Florida enterd the season ranked sixth in the country after ending their ’98 campaign with a 57-14 record and returning all but one letterwinner this season. This season the Bulls have already played 11 games and are 9-2 overall, having won both of their first two tournaments. A year ago, the South Folorida beat Notre Dame, 3-1, even though they were out hit by the Irish 8-6.

Georgia Tech: This will be the first meeting between the two schools. The Yellow jackets ended last season with a 24-32 record and a 2-6 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Miami (Ohio): The Red Hawks are under the direction of first year head coach Angie Jacobs. A year ago Miami was an even 27-27 overall and 9-17 in the Mid-American Conference. The all-time series between the two teams is 2-1 in favor of the Red Hawks.

Tennessee: The Volunteers finished 1998 with a 37-31 record and posted notable wins over third-ranked Washington (2-1) and 22nd-ranked Kansas (2-0). Top returners for Tennessee includes second baseman Kelli Fitzgerald, who was a high school teammate of Notre Dame’s Angela Bessolo at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif.

Kansas: A year ago, Kansas and the Irish split their two meetings, and this season the two teams will meet twice again at the Gladstones Tournament and then two weeks later at the Hillenbrand Tournament in Tucson, Ariz. The Jayhawks were 28-34 in 1998 and and this year’s roster includes pitcher Christy McPhail, a high school teammate of Notre Dame freshman Jarrah Myers at Santa Fe Trail High School in Oklahoma. So far this season, the Jayhawks are 5-1 and claimed first place at last weekend’s Liberty Metrodome Softball Classic in Minneapolis, Minn.

NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH LIZ MILLER: Miller enters her seventh season with the Irish and her 24th overall. Miller has directed the Irish to three-straight BIG EAST South Division Championships and has a 234-115 record at Notre Dame. 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.

Tentative Defensive Starting Lineup
Pitcher – Jennifer Sharron
Catcher – Kris McCleary
First Base – Amy Laboe
Second Base – Kathleen Hoag
Third Base – Jarrah Myers
Shortstop – Melanie Alkire
Left Field – Lizzy Lemire
Center Field – Danielle Klayman
Right Field – Jennifer Kriech

USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25 Poll January 27, 1999

 R School         1998 Record 1. Fresno State         52-11 2. Arizona              67-4 3. UCLA                 18-27 4. Washington           52-15 5. Michigan             56-7 6. South Florida        57-14 7. Texas                49-16 8. Nebraska             48-12 9. Louisana State       58-1410. Massachusetts        45-1411. Oklahoma             49-1511. DePaul               47-813. Long Beach St.       39-2014. Stanford             41-1815. Oklahoma St.         42-1916. Iowa                 38-1917. Hawai'i              46-1518. Arizona State        38-2719. Alabama              49-1820. Florida              47-2221. Florida State        50-2022. Minnesota            48-2123. Hofstra              39-1724. Illinois-Chicago     56-2125. Oregon               40-31

Others: California, South Carolina, Pacific, Misouri, Utah, Boston College, Southwest Missouri State, Cal State Northridge, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois, Northwestern, USL, Texas Tech, Colorado state, Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Oregon State, Kansas, Northeast Louisana, Mississippi State and Harvard.


R School            '98 Record1 Boston College    38-14-1 (13-3-1)2 NOTRE DAME        35-25 (13-3)    3 Rutgers           25-22 (10-5)4 Connecticut       24-21 (8-7)5 Villanova         36-17 (8-6)6 St. John's        16-30-1 (6-11)7 Providence        17-25-2 (4-12-1)8 Seton Hall        18-28-1 (0-15)9 Pittsburgh         0-12 (N/A)


P  Name                   SchoolP  Mary Dietz             Boston CollegeP  Jennifer Sharron       Notre DameC  Angie Catalano         RutgersIF Alison Hirsch          ConnecticutIF Chris Vicari           Boston CollegeIF Jessica Yanosy         ConnecticutIF Megan O'Leary          VillanovaOF Allyson Johnson        ConnecticutOF Lizzy Lemire           Notre DameOF Jaime-Lyn Chmielowicz  RutgersU  Lauren Fischetti       Boston CollegeDP Jen Perrotta           Boston College

2nd round – Shannon Beeler, SS, (Univ. of Minn.)
3rd round – Jody Dean, OF, (N. Iowa)
4th round – Catherine Davie, OF, (Michigan)
5th round – Jenny Oermann, SS, (Southeast Missouri St.)
6th round – Heather Stella, 3B, (Ill. St.)
8th round – Kris McCleary, C, (ND)
9th round – Becky Blevins, P, Stanford
10th round – Kami Tucker, 3B, (Tennessee-Chattanooga)