April 28, 2000
Lighting Up The Flames: After being swept in their doubleheader last year, the 19th-ranked Notre Dame softball returned the favor against visiting #22 Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Wednesday, winning game one 4-0 and then game two 7-1. The Irish improved to 39-12 overall, while the Flames dropped to 44-23.
BIG Week: Already in the last week of the regular season, Notre Dame’s two remaining doubleheaders with St. John’s (Saturday) and Seton Hall (Sunday) all figure to be important match-ups. With a sweep, the BIG EAST-leading Irish can wrap up their fifth straight BIG EAST regular season title and the top seed at next weekend’s conference championship.
Lemire Honored: For the first time this season, Notre Dame softball player junior Lizzy Lemire (Irvine, Calif.) has been named the BIG EAST Player of the Week. A junior outfielder, Lemire, who earned her first career nod as the conference player of the week, becomes the seventh Irish player to earn weekly honors this season.
Lemire continued her hot hitting, posting a .636 batting average in the team’s four games last week. She went 7-for-11 overall at the plate with a pair of runs scored, a home run and a team-best four RBI. Against BIG EAST Conference foe Pittsburgh Saturday, Lemire went 5-for-6 (.833) with two RBI and a run scored. She also hit a two-run home run Tuesday in the bottom of the seventh inning (her second of the season) against Indiana State, keeping the Irish from being shutout for the first time this season.
Sharron Has 20-20 Or Is It 200 Vision?: With the team’s 7-3 win over Pittsburgh April 22, junior pitcher Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) earned her 20th win of the season, moving to 20-6 overall. Sharron became just the second pitcher in Irish history to record back-to-back 20-win seasons and also became only the second Notre Dame pitcher to tally two, 20-win seasons in her career. The only other pitcher to achieve both is two-time All-American Terri Kobata, who won 23 games in 1994 and a school-record 24 in 1995. In the team’s win over Illinois-Chicago Wednesday, Sharron reached another milestone, striking out 11 batters to reach the 200-strikeout mark. The southpaw is just the second Irish pitcher to record 200 strikeouts in a season and now has 458 for her career, passing up former teammate Angela Bessolo (445) for the second-most in Irish history.
To Be The Second Best: At 39-12, the Notre Dame softball team now has the second best record in program history. The 2000 Irish fell just below the 1996 team, which had a 40-11 record through its first 51 games. With just one more victory, the team can also reach the 40-win plateau for the fifth time in the program’s 12-year history.
To Be Shutout Or Not To Be Shutout: The Irish have scored at least one run in all 51 of their games, while shutting out their opponents 20 times. The closest the Irish have come to being shutout was against Indiana State on April 18, but a one-out home run by Lizzy Lemire in the bottom of the seventh inning against Indiana State kept the team’s streak alive.
#19 For The Second Time: The Notre Dame softball team stayed in the #19 spot for the second straight week in the April 26 USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I poll. The Irish were ranked as high as 18th two weeks ago after two weeks at the number 21 spot. Notre Dame entered the poll at the 22nd position, March 24, after receiving just one vote in the preseason poll.
The #18 ranking was the second-highest in program history, trailing only the 1994 squad, which began it’s season at #17 in the NFCA preseason poll.
Staying Steady: Four the third straight time, Notre Dame stayed in the number one slot of the Northeast Regional rankings. Also appearing in the second set of regional rankings released Thursday, April 27, were BIG EAST Conference foes Connecticut (2nd), Villanova (6th) , Seton Hall (8th) and Rutgers (9th).
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 and final rankings are slated for release on Thursday, May 11.
BIG EAST Shake-up: Just who will be in the four-team BIG EAST Tournament next weekend (May 5-7) is still in doubt going into the last weekend of the regular season. The Irish with a 8-2 record are in first place, while Connecticut (10-4) is second, Boston College (7-3) is third and both Seton Hall and St. John’s are tied for fourth with matching 6-6 records. Key match-ups this week include the Friday doubleheader between Boston College and Connecticut, which was postponed Wednesday.
Going Yard: With Melanie Alkire’s (Union City, Calif.) home run against Illinois-Chicago, the Irish are just two home runs away from tying the school record of 29, which was set last year. Junior Lizzy Lemire’s first home run of the season, against DePaul April 13, gave the Irish a school-record seven players who have gone yard at least once in 2000. Alkire, who belted a school-record tying 10 in 1999, has a team-best nine this season, while sophomore Jarrah Myers is second with seven home runs.
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.
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 – 27 by seven players
Action – Scouting the Field: The Irish head into the last weekend of the BIG EAST season with the conference regular season title and tournament top seed at stake. Notre Dame has never lost to either of this weekend’s opponents, St. John’s or Seton Hall. Both the Red Storm and the Pirates have had a long week after the second game of their doubleheader Monday went to a BIG EAST-record 21 innings, before Seton Hall finally won.
The Red Storm: The most improved team in the BIG EAST since last season, St. John’s goes into this weekend with a chance to advance to the conference tournament, after finishing up 3-13 in the BIG EAST in 1999.
This year, the Red Storm is 24-22 overall with a 6-6 mark in the conference. Under first-year head coach Melody Cope, St. John’s is led by catcher Lisa Tropea, who is hitting .299 with three home runs and 16 RBI. First baseman Ann Raab is first on the team in RBI with 27, while batting .248. Pitcher Gina Calabrese, who pitched all 21 innings against Seton Hall, is the team’s ace with a 17-11 record and 173 strikeouts, including six shutouts. Freshman Courtney Fitzgerald is the team’s other starter with a 7-10 record in a little under 120 innings pitched.
The Pirates: After finishing as the conference runners-up last year, Seton Hall is on the brink of making the conference tournament. The Pirates are currently tied for fourth place with St. John’s at 6-6 and have an overall record of 24-15-1 after dropping two to Hofstra Thursday.
Under second-year head coach Ray Vander May, Seton Hall is led by third baseman Vickie Lamb, who has a team-best .377 batting average with four home runs, while shortstop Kim Jackson has a team high 24 RBI. In the pitching circle, junior Misty Beaver is 12-6 with a 1.30 earned run average including a .164 opponent batting average and 135 strikeouts. Fellow starter Christina Shanko has a 11-8 record and a team-best 0.86 earned-run average.
Within the Ranks: In the fourth set of NCAA statistics, the Irish now appear in seven categories. Junior Melanie Alkire stayed in the seventh spot in runs batted in with 53, pitcher Jennifer Sharron jumped five spots to 30th in earned-run average with a 1.00 mark and sophomore pitcher Michelle Moschel (Naples, Fla.) is 15th in strikeouts per seven innings (8.3). The team’s batting average is 11th nationally (.312), its fielding percentage is ranked 18th (.969) and the team’s winning percentage (.755) is 16th-best in the country. Appearing for the first time in the national ranks is sophomore Jennifer Kriech (Indianapolis, Ind.), who is 14th in triples per game with a 0.14 per game mark.
Record Breakers: The 2000 Irish have already broken or tied five school records.
– RBI in a game (6) by Melanie Alkire vs. San Diego State (3/12) beating the previous record of five by seven people.
– Consecutive team shutouts (5) from March 4-12, beating the previous record of four.
– Home runs in a game (2) by Andrea Loman vs. Texas, tying the record of four other people.
– Triples by a team in a season (16), tying the record of 16 by the 1995 squad.
– RBI in a season (53) by Melanie Alkire, with the previous record of 48 set by Sara Hayes in 1994.
Miller’s 300th: Notre Dame head coach Liz Miller is in her eighth season at Notre Dame (315-147) and her 25th season overall (856-289). 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.
NCAA Regional Rankings – April 27, 2000
|Northeast Region||Mideast Region||Midwest Region|
|1. Notre Dame (37-12)||1. Iowa (34-10)||1. Oklahoma (51-6)|
|2. Connecticut (27-13)||2. Michigan (34-11-1)||2. Nebraska (37-18)|
|3. Hofstra (26-17)||3. Penn State (29-12)||3. Texas (26-21-1)|
|4. Boston Univ.(26-13)||4. Illinois-Chicago (42-21)||4. Texas A&M (26-16)|
|5. UMasss (20-19)||5. W. Illinois (32-13)||5. Oklahoma State (32-19)|
|6. Villanova (26-18-1)||6. Wisconsin (26-20)||6. Missouri (29-24)|
|7. Delaware (26-9)||7. Michigan State (27-21)||7. Kansas (28-27)|
|8. Seton Hall (22-12)||8. DePaul (21-15)||8. S. Illinois (35-17)|
|9. Rutgers (21-13-1)||9. Purdue (28-22)||9. SW Mo. St. (28-24)|
|10. Virginia Tech (26-18)||10. Central Mich.(19-8)||10. SW Texas (34-19)|
|South Region||West Region||Pacific Region|
|1. S. Mississippi (48-10)||1. Fresno State (44-11)||1. Washington (47-5)|
|2. LSU (47-8)||2. Long Beach St. (34-17)||2. Arizona (45-7)|
|3. Alabama (53-8)||3. CSU Fullerton (37-11)||3. UCLA (33-7)|
|4. La.-Lafayette (39-13)||4. Utah (30-20)||4. Arizona State (38-11)|
|5. Mississippi St. (37-20)||5. New Mexico (32-13)||5. Stanford (36-12)|
|6. Arkansas (30-27)||6. San Diego St. (28-24)||6. Oregon State (33-13-1)|
|7. South Carolina (31-25)||7. Pacific (CA) (23-20)||7. California (41-15)|
|8. North Carolina (45-15)||8. UCSB (20-17)||8. CSU North. (23-21-1)|
|9. Florida State (40-24)||9. Oregon (30-18)|
|10. Florida (37-23)||10. Loyola Marymount (29-21)|
Irish vs. Upcoming
Opponent St. John’s (8-0):
1999: W, 13-0, W, 7-0 1998: W, 3-1, W, 5-01997: W, 11-1, W, 7-0 1996: W, 2-0, W, 13-0
Seton Hall (13-0):
1999: W, 5-1,W, 1-0, W, 8-01998: W, 7-0, W, 8-01997: W, 7-1, W, 12-1, W, 9-1, W, 6-21996: W, 7-2, W, 5-1, W, 4-2, W, 13-5
BIG EAST Standings
As of April 27
BIG EAST Weekly Honors
BIG EAST Players of the Week
April 25 – Lizzy Lemire, ND
April 17 – Jarrah Myers, ND
April 11 – Debbie DeJong, RU
April 3 – Lisa Girolamo, UCONN
March 27 – Melanie Alkire, ND
Vickie Lamb, SH
March 20 – Megan Biddle, Connecticut
March 13 – Melanie Alkire, Notre Dame
BIG EAST Pitchers of the Week
April 25 – Misty Beaver, SH
April 17 – Jennifer Sharron, ND
April 11 – Jennifer Sharron, ND
April 3 – Keri Stoller (VI), Leah Black (RU)
March 27 – Barbara Cook, UCONN
March 20 – Michelle Moschel, ND
March 13 – Barbara Cook, UCONN
BIG EAST Rookies of the Week
April 25 – Sara Carlson, VI
April 17 – Kim Ryan, BC
April 11 – Kim Ryan, BC
Courtney Fitzgerald, SJ
April 3 – Andria Bledsoe, ND
March 27 – Christina Shanko, SH
March 20 – Andrea Loman, ND
Kelly Hulpa, Pitt.
March 13 – Andria Bledsoe,
2000 Notre Dame Tentative Defensive Starting Lineup
Pitchers – Jennifer Sharron, Jr. (LHP)
Michelle Moschel, So. (RHP)
Catcher – Jarrah Myers, So.
First Base – Andrea Loman, Fr.
Second Base – Alexis Madrid, Fr.
Third Base – Andria Bledsoe, Fr.
Shortstop – Melanie Alkire, Jr.
Left field – Lizzy Lemire, Jr.
Center field – Danielle Klayman, Jr.
Right field – Jenny Kriech, So.