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Softball Plays Host To BIG EAST Action This Weekend

March 20, 2002

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Notre Dame vs. Rutgers, Saturday, March 23, 11 a.m.

Notre Dame vs. Villanova, Sunday, March 24, 11 a.m.

BIG EAST Conference season begins at Ivy Field this weekend:

The University of Notre Dame softball team (8-12), 20 games into the 2002 season, plays host to its first home game at Ivy Field this weekend, as BIG EAST Conference opponents Rutgers (doubleheader, Saturday, March 23, at 11 a.m.) and Villanova (doubleheader, Sunday, March 24) are set to make the trip to Notre Dame, Ind.

Could weather be a problem?

Notre Dame will play host to two doubleheaders this weekend, though the pesky Northern Indiana early-spring weather might be a bit uncooperative. The games will be played no matter what the temperature might be, however, and only significant rain or snow will curtail this weekend’s conference competition. On Wednesday, March 20 (the first day of spring), the forecast for this weekend predicted a mix of sun and clouds on Saturday and a possible mix of rain and snow on Sunday. Temperatures should be in the 40s.

Can’t make it to Ivy Field?

Keep track of the games on Out-of-town fans or those unable to make it to Ivy Field this weekend can follow the action on Notre Dame’s official athletic website, Live statistics and a readable play-by-play will be available for each game – just click on the “Live Game Tracker” link on the right side of the home page.

Ivy Field promotions this weekend:

Make sure you get to Ivy Field early this weekend. The Notre Dame promotions department has a number of give aways planned for both doubleheaders. On Saturday, the first 100 fans will receive coupons for free chili between games from Between the Buns Restaurant, while the same 100 fans will receive free Notre Dame headbands. The traditional give aways during the games, including TGI Friday’s, Studebagels, Papa John’s, Papa Vino’s, Taco Bell, Outback Steakhouse and Wendy’s gift certificates also will be available.

On Sunday, the first 100 fans will receive a free green Notre Dame bean bag bear, a coupon for a free sundae from McDonalds and a coupon for a free hot chocolate from the Ivy Field concession stand.

Early-season schedule among the toughest in school history:

Notre Dame’s early-season schedule, which has included #1/#2 Arizona (twice), #25 South Florida, #11 Oregon State, #8 Arizona State, #4 Oklahoma, #19 Louisiana-Lafayette and #10 Fresno State (all rankings reflect position at the time of the game), is among the toughest in school history. The Irish have battled each opponent to the end, including three one-run losses to Arizona State, Oklahoma and Fresno State by identical 3-2 scores.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST Conference regular-season competition:

The Irish began BIG EAST Conference play in 1996 and compiled a 19-1 record. Since that solid performance in their first season, the Irish have gone a combined 98-10 (.907) against conference foes during six regular seasons.

Notre Dame in BIG EAST Conference regular-season competition:

1996: 19-1

1997: 16-4

1998: 13-3

1999: 16-0

2000: 14-2

2001: 20-0

Notre Dame vs. Rutgers series history and team analysis:

Notre Dame and Rutgers will be meeting for the 18th and 19th time this weekend, with the Irish holding a 13-4 advantage in the series. Notre Dame has won the last four meeting in a row, all of which were played in Piscataway, N.J. The two teams have not met at Ivy Field since 1997.

Rutgers, along with many BIG EAST schools this season, improved its early season schedule. The Scarlet Knight are currently 1-11 after competing in the Kia Klassic last weekend in Fullerton, Calif. Rutgers lone victory this season was over Dayton, 4-3 in eight innings.

The Scarlet Knights are scheduled to face St. Francis (N.Y.) on Wednesday, March 20, before their matchup with the Irish on Saturday.

Brittney Neer has keyed the Rutgers offense so far this season, leading the team in batting with a .414 average. That mark ranks her fifth in the conference as of March 18. Jenny Card has been the top run producer, knocking in seven RBIs this season.

In the circle, conference fans should be familiar with both Leah Black and Andria Koehler (the Irish faced both pitchers last season). Black has a 4.10 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 37 innings, while Koehler has started three games, striking out 18.

Notre Dame is 7-1 lifetime against Rutgers at Ivy Field.

Notre Dame vs. Villanova series history and team analysis:

Notre Dame and Villanova will be meeting for the 20th and 21st time on Sunday, March 24. The matchup features the two teams picked by the conference coaches to win the regular season conference crown in the preseason poll. Sunday’s games are also the first meeting between the two teams since the Wildcats ousted the Irish from the BIG EAST Championship last season with a 1-0 victory.

Villanova’s roster features three of the top players in the conference, junior utility Sara Carlson, junior pitcher and favorite for BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Theresa Hornick and sophomore infielder Ricci Lugo.

Lugo has been impressive early in her second season, compiling a .471 batting average with 24 hits, 25 RBI and six home runs in Villanova’s first 14 games. Carlson is batting .326 with 12 RBIs and two home runs this season, while Hornick is 5-1 with a 1.14 ERA in eight appearances.

Villanova is scheduled to face Pittsburgh on Saturday for a doubleheader before their stop at Notre Dame on Sunday.

A look around the BIG EAST Conference:

Pittsburgh and St. John’s both finished 4-0 at the Winthrop Invitational last weekend … Virginia Tech claimed the championship at its own Hokie Spring Classic last weekend … Boston College swept through the Hofstra Invitational last weekend, outscoring its opponents 20-2 … Syracuse went 8-2 from March 9-16, the best 10-game stretch in school history … Kristen Collins (Syracuse) is leading the league in hitting (.500 avg., 26 hits in 52 AB), while Orangewomen pitcher Taylor Peterson leads all league hurlers with a 0.77 ERA in four starts.

Deanna Gumpf continues her first season as head softball coach at the University of Notre Dame:

One of the top coaches in the nation, Deanna Gumpf has taken over the Notre Dame softball program this season after four years as the top aide to Liz Miller – who retired at the end of the 2001 season.

In the four seasons Gumpf served as the Irish pitching and assistant coach, the team lowered its ERA and raised the team batting average each season, while also setting team records for strikeouts and home runs.

Gumpf’s staff includes new assistant coaches Charmelle Green (formerly at Syracuse) and Kris McCleary (former Irish catcher – Class of ’99 – who served as an assistant at UNLV), along with volunteer assistant coach Bill Roggeman.

Gumpf earned her first career victory with a 3-2, 10-inning victory over Auburn in the Pepsi Arizona Classic.

Megan Ciolli in the midst of a solid rookie season:

Freshman outfielder Megan Ciolli has quickly developed into one of Notre Dame’s most dependable hitters.

Typically batting second in the Irish lineup, Ciolli has a .308 batting average this season with 20 hits in 20 games. Among those hits are her first three career home runs (she is leading the team in that category), two doubles and six RBI. She also leads the team in sacrifice hits with four (three bunts, one game-winning sacrifice fly).

Ciolli is able to hit for power, but the Irish rookie is adept at moving up the runners, or bunting for a hit, as well. Her solo home run vs. Long Beach State ended up as the game-winning hit and run in Notre Dame’s 3-2 victory.

Having an all-star caliber season:

Irish third basemen Andrea Loman has developed into Notre Dame’s top offensive and defensive player this season. Loman leads the team in hitting so far in 2002 (.327) and has cracked two home runs, including a titanic blast to put the Irish ahead 2-0 over Long Beach State.

Loman’s 12 career home runs put her third on the all-time list behind teammate Jarrah Myers (14) and 2001 graduate Melanie Alkire (13).

Even though Loman has been one of the most consistent offensive threats for the Irish this season, her defensive play has been nothing short of spectacular.

Loman eliminates the sacrifice bunt, as she has shown time and time again she can get to the ball and throw the advancing runner out at the appropriate base. In 79 defensive chances this season, Loman has made just two errors.

New career home run leader:

As the Irish were away on their spring break trip to Nevada and California, senior catcher Jarrah Myers smacked her 14th career home run against Oregon in in Notre Dame’s 9-3 victory.

Her 14 round trippers place Myers a top the career list at Notre Dame, eclipsing Melanie Alkire’s 13 home runs from 1998-2001.

Can the Irish challenge the home run record?

Though the Notre Dame softball team is not hitting with a high average yet this season (.240 entering this weekend’s competition), the Irish have launched 11 home runs in 2002.

With 38 games remaining this season, the Irish could challenge the school record for team home runs (36 hit in 2000). Six different players have hit home runs for the team this season, including first career round trippers from Megan Ciolli, Annie Dell’Aria and Nicole deFau.

Getting better each start:

Freshman righthander Steffany Stenglein is 7-8 this season with a 2.52 ERA, but the rookie hurler is getting better and better with each start.

Over the course of Notre Dame’s eight games during spring break, Stenglein was 3-2 with a 2.17 ERA and struck out 39 batters in 38.2 innings pitched. The Irish opponents hit just .183 against Stenglein during that stretch.

2002 schedule could develop into the strongest in school history:

The Irish enter this weekend’s action with an 8-12 record, but eight of those losses have come to teams ranked higher than Notre Dame in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25.

As of March 20, the Irish schedule reflects 12 ranked opponents (eight already played, plus future double headers against #4 Nebraska and #16 DePaul). Notre Dame has been close to knocking off its top-ranked foes as well. The Irish dropped hard-fought 3-2 decisions to #8 Arizona State, #4 Oklahoma and #10 Fresno State in the first month of the season.

The record for ranked opponents faced is 13 from the 1998 and 2001 seasons. Post-season play at the end of the 2002 campaign could push the Irish schedule this season into the record books.

Notre Dame softball standout Jarrah Myers named the 2001-02 BIG EAST/A?ropostale Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year:

She will receive a $4,000 stipend which will be applied to graduate studies. The winner is determined by the league’s Academic Awards Committee.

A?ropostale Stores is the official apparel of BIG EAST Championships and is the sponsor of the Conference’s Post Graduate Student-Athlete Scholarship Program. This year A?ropostale will award 31 scholarships to Conference student-athletes to assist in their pursuit of graduate or professional studies. The Men’s and Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athletes will be announced in conjunction with the BIG EAST Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championships on March 1 and 5. A?ropostale is a popular clothing and accessories retailer that has over 275 stores in 37 states throughout the United States. Named after the Companie Generale A?ropostale, the pioneer French airmail company, the merchandise continues to embody the spirit and adventure of its name. The company also operates a web site at

Myers, a senior catcher from Carbondale, Kan., is the fourth Notre Dame female to win the award. She was chosen for the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award from a pool of 15 candidates which may encompass athletes from any of the 12 BIG EAST women’s sports.

Myers, an environmental science major in the Notre Dame honors program, earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA)/Louisville Slugger All-America Third Team honors as a junior in 2001 and was a member of the U.S. National Team last year. Prior to the 2002 season, she was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Myers was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team as a junior in 2001 and the first team in 2000. Last season she led the Irish in batting (.380), RBI (41) and home runs (7). Myers ranks among the top five on the ND career lists for triples, home runs and RBI.

As a Dean’s List student, Myers earned Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team honors as a junior and third team accolades as a sophomore. She will graduate as a four-time BIG EAST Academic All-Star and plans to pursue a master’s degree in forensic science. Myers does extra research in the organic chemistry department and volunteers on a bimonthly basis at an elderly assistance home.

The conference also announced the ’01-02 BIG EAST/A?ropostale Female Scholar-Athlete Award winners, who will each receive $2,000 toward graduate studies.

Notre Dame and Villanova picked as co-favorites in the BIG EAST:

Notre Dame and Villanova ended up tied in the 2002 BIG EAST Softball Preseason Poll, as both teams earned 94 points.

Notre Dame is coming off a 20-0 regular season record in conference competition last season, while Villanova wrapped up league play with a 15-5 record. The Irish received six first-place votes, while the Wildcats earned four. Seton Hall (third), Virginia Tech (fourth) and Connecticut (fifth) rounded out the top five in the preseason poll.

Notre Dame will begin conference competition this weekend, hosting a doubleheader against Rutgers on Saturday.

California girls:

The 2002 Notre Dame roster is loaded with talent from the Golden State, as seven Irish players call California home. The 2002 freshman class brings three players from the West Coast (Liz Hartmann – Novato, Steffany Stenglein – Irvine, Carrie Wisen – Fullerton), while the returning Irish from California are Chantal DeAlcuaz (Modesto), Andrea Loman (Riverside), Alexis Madrid (Temecula) and Jessica Sharron (Agoura Hills).

How to get information on the 2002 Notre Dame softball team:

In addition to weekly releases and game recaps on, media members may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Alan Wasielewski at:

Notre Dame home softball games will be available via live statistics on

Keep up with the Irish via the sports hotline:

The Notre Dame sports information hotline has modified its menu offerings for the 2002 winter and spring sports seasons.

The hotline provides schedule and results information for varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the live coverage and game recaps already provided on the official athletic website at

Here’s how the hotline now is aligned (as of Dec. 28, 2001):

* Dial (219) 631-3000

* Select any of the following subgroups:

(1) Upcoming schedule and recent results of ALL varsity sports currently in action (select cells 3-9 for the most updated results for specific sports).

(2) Upcoming football schedules for the 2002-05 seasons.

(3) Men’s basketball information (press 1) and baseball information (press 2).

(4) Women’s basketball information (press 1) and softball information (press 2).

(5) Men’s ice hockey information (press 1), men’s lacrosse information (press 2) and women’s lacrosse information (press 3).

(6) Men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field information

(7) Men’s swimming and diving information (then press 1), women’s swimming information (press 2) and women’s rowing information (press 3).

(8) Tennis information (then press 1 for men’s tennis and 2 for women’s tennis).

(9) Information for men’s and women’s fencing (press 1), men’s golf (press 2) and women’s golf (press 3).