April 8, 2004
Notre Dame vs. Syracuse, Saturday, April 10, 11 a.m.
Irish Quick Facts:
* Notre Dame returns to BIG EAST Conference action to host Syracuse at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
* The Irish will travel to Nebraska for their annual April match up with the Cornhuskers on Monday and Tuesday.
* Notre Dame has won 14 of its last 16 games, with the two losses coming out of conference (at Western Michigan, vs. Purdue).
Irish play host to Syracuse this weekend:
Notre Dame will hope to add to its BIG EAST Conference record this weekend when it plays host to Syracuse (15-15, 1-1) on Saturday at 11 a.m. The Irish are currently 4-0 in the conference standings and reside in second place, behind Villanova – who is 6-0 in the conference this season.
The Irish needed a four-run rally against Syracuse last season, falling behind 4-1 in game two before coming back two win 6-4, helped by a three-run home run from Mallorie Lenn.
Notre Dame began the BIG EAST Conference section of its schedule with four victories, getting two wins each over Connecticut and Boston College. The Irish handled the Huskies by 9-1 and 10-0 scores, then took two from the Eagles by 5-0 and 7-1 counts. Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season at home on Tuesday, April 6, when Purdue defeated the Irish 4-3 in eight innings. The Irish did win game one of the doubleheader 4-2.
Here is a look at the Syracuse Orangewomen:
Syracuse: Notre Dame and Syracuse will be meeting for eighth and ninth time on Saturday, with the Irish leading the all-time series 6-1. Syracuse’s victory in the series came at Ivy Field in 2002.
The Orangewomen are 15-15 in 2004 and 1-1 in the BIG EAST Conference. Tanya Rose is the team leader on offense with a .347 average, six home runs and 11 RBI. Alexis Switenko is the top run producer, driving in 24 runs this season (.323, five home runs). Courtney Mosch has logged the most innings in the pitching circle this season, posting a 9-9 record in 21 appearances (111.2 IP).
Notre Dame assistant coach Charmelle Green was also an assistant at Syracuse during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The Orangewomen are 1-1 at Ivy Field.
Notre Dame matchup with #18/19 Nebraska on April 12 to be shown nationally on CSTV:
The University of Notre Dame will travel to Lincoln, Neb., to face the Cornhuskers for the third time this season – and College Sports Television (CSTV) will televise the game live across the country. The contest on Monday, April 12, will be part of CSTV Softball, which will show eight regular-season games this season, in addition to the Big Ten and Conference USA post season tournaments.
In addition to its softball telecasts, College Sports TV will cover the sport extensively within its CSTV Primetime and CSTV Scoreboard live studio shows originating from the CSTV Fieldhouse in New York. Daily coverage of women’s softball will also be found on CSTV.com.
CSTV, the first 24-hour college sports network, is available to more than 15 million homes nationally on cable and satellite. The network is available on Time Warner, Adelphia and Insight cable systems, among others, and is also available on DirecTV (channel 610). For information on CSTV availability in particular markets, consumers can log on to www.cstv.com or call their cable or satellite operator.
Ruthrauff posting one of the top offensive campaigns in school history:
Sophomre Meagan Ruthrauff, who leads the Irish in home runs (eight) and RBI (38) is compiling one of the top single-season offensive performances in Notre Dame softball history. With at least 24 games remaining (not counting any possible postseason appearances), she is close to breaking into the top five for single-season totals in home runs, RBI and walks.
Jarrah Myers is the single-season home run leader with 13 – Ruthrauff currently has eight, which is good for fifth all-time (Andrea Loman and Liz Hartmann are fourth with nine).
Melanie Alkire is the single-season RBI leader with 64 – a mighty number that will be hard to match, but Ruthrauff is currently sixth on the all-time list with 38 (Andrea Loman and Andria Bledsoe are fifth with 43).
Jarrah Myers also is the single-season BB leader with 30 – Ruthrauff currently has a team-high 22, good enough for sixth all-time.
Stenglein named BIG EAST pitcher off the week:
Junior Steffany Stenglein landed her second straight BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week award on Monday, winning three games last week – including two conference victories. Stenglein limited her opponents to just one earned run in 19 innings last week, posting a 3-0 record and 0.37 ERA. She pitched 12 innings of league competition, allowing a single unearned run and striking out 13 while walking just one batter.
The pitcher of the week award is the second of the season for Stenglein, who is currently 11-7 on the season with a 1.89 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 111.0 IP.
Freshman home run record in serious jeopardy:
Junior Liz Hartmann slammed seven home runs during her rookie season in 2002 to set the school mark for round trippers by a freshman – and teammate Stephanie Brown has that record in sight for 2004. Brown has already sent six balls out of the park this year and needs just two more to break Hartmann’s mark.
Hartmann continues trek up the all-time home run list:
Junior Liz Hartmann, who still has one full year of eligibility left, has the Notre Dame all-time home run record in reach. She has 22 entering this weekend’s action (seven as a freshman, nine as a sophomore, six as a junior) and sits in fifth place on the all-time top five for home runs at Notre Dame. The top five:
1. Jarrah Myers (1999-2002), 36
2. Andrea Loman (2000-03), 31
3. Melanie Alkire (1998-2001), 30
4. Sara Hayes (1992-95), 26
5. Liz Hartmann (2002-current), 22
Many of Hartmann’s home runs have come in dramatic fashion – see the “Homers in the clutch” note later in this package.
Games played records will fall in 2004:
Notre Dame has already played 40 games this season – and have at least 24 regular-season games scheduled for the rest of the season. That would give the ’04 Irish 64 games played before any postseason contests. The record for games played in a season is 65 by the 1992 squad. The individual games played record will also fall this season, with Megan Ciolli, Meagan Ruthrauff, Heather Brown, Nicole deFau and Sara Schoonaert all appearing in 40 games so far for Notre Dame.
Irish hit 40 games on April 6 for the second time in school history:
Notre Dame completed its 40th game on April 6 vs. Purdue, matching the 1996 team as the fastest to reach the 40-games played mark.
Notre Dame’s 29-11 record matches the ’03 team as the fourth-best in school history over the first 40 games of the year:
Wicks Back On A Good Streak:
Junior Nicole Wicks, who transferred to Notre Dame from the University of Washington last season, has been a key part of the Irish success this season. One of the streakiest hitters on the Irish roster, Wicks is hitting an unspectacular .238 on the year, but she has shown the ability to pile up hits in bunches. Wicks, who steps into the starting lineup this season when Kellie Middleton was lost for the season with an injury, piled up 11 hits in her first eight games of solid playing time. She suffered through prolonged slump after that point, putting up four hits in her next 20 games.
Fortunately for the Irish, Wicks has shown signs of returning to form lately. In her last four games, she is five for nine with a double and game-winning RBI vs. Purdue. Wicks also figures strongly in Notre Dame’s running game, as she is third on the team in steals with seven (in 10 attempts).
Homers in the clutch:
The Deanna Gumpf era at Notre Dame has provided some of the most memorable clutch home runs in Irish history. Over the past three seasons, Notre Dame has claimed an upset victory on the road (vs. #4 Nebraska, 2002), an amazing comeback victory on the road (vs. La.-Lafayette, 2003), a BIG EAST Championship (vs. Villanova, 2003) and two first-weekend come-from-behind victories (at the UNLV Classic this season) via dramatic home runs.
Liz Hartmann has played a role in three of the memorable moments. In 2002, her three-run blast in the top of the seventh pushed Notre Dame to a 3-2 victory over #4 Nebraska at the Cornhuskers’ dedication of their new field in Lincoln. Last season, Hartmann tied the school record for home runs in a single game with two shots vs. La.-Lafayette. Her first against the Lady Cajuns tied up the game in the seventh inning (after Notre Dame had rallied from a 5-1 deficit) and then ended the game in the ninth inning on a three-run round tripper.
Hartmann hit yet another game winning home run vs. Saint Louis at the Hoosier Invitational, launching a solo shot in the sixth inning to provide the winning margin (4-3 victory).
The 2003 BIG EAST Championship was claimed on a walk off home run by ’03 graduate Andrea Loman, who smashed a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth.
During the UNLV Classic on the first weekend of competition for the Irish this season, the team utilized four clutch home runs to secure two victories. Sophomore Kellie Middleton launched a two-run shot to complete Notre Dame’s rally from a 7-4 deficit to defeat Hawaii 8-7. The next day, freshman Stephanie Brown completed another Irish rally with a two-run shot in the top of the seventh vs. #8/8 Nebraska – followed by another two-run shot by Hartmann to claim the winning margin. Hartmann had previously cut the Cornhusker lead down to 4-2 with a two-run homer in the fifth.
Notre Dame has faced a loaded early season schedule:
In what has developed into a yearly tradition for the Fighting Irish softball team, Notre Dame hit the road for the first five weekends of the season to face several of the top teams in the nation. According to the latest national polls, over the first five weekends of the season Notre Dame faced 10 ranked teams (ESPN.com/USA Softball ranking first, followed by USA Today/NFCA):
* #2/3 California (L, 1-2) – now ranked #4/5
* #6/6 Georgia, (L, 1-7) – now ranked #6/5
* #11/12 Michigan (L, 0-3) – now ranked #10/9
* #8/8 Nebraska (W, 6-4), now ranked #18/19
* #14/14 Nebraska (W, 1-0), now ranked #18/19
* #8/8 Stanford (L, 2-4), now ranked #9/11
*#24/24 CS Fullerton (W, 5-4), now unranked
* #4/6 Florida State (L, 3-4 – 10 innings), now ranked #3/3
* NR Pacific (L, 1-12), now ranked #19/21
* NR Georgia Tech (W, 2-1), now ranked #22/NR
The Irish also will take on DePaul and Northwestern later this season, as both teams have earned votes in the top 25 this season. In addition, Texas A&M, Florida Atlantic and Hawaii have all received votes for the national polls this season.
While a tough schedule might affect Notre Dame’s early season record, it has paid huge dividends over the last two years when the Irish return to the Midwest for conference and regional play. The 2002 season saw Notre Dame open up 8-12 while facing eight ranked teams in the first two months of the season. Notre Dame responded by winning 34 of its next 37 games and the BIG EAST Championship entering the NCAA regional. The 2003 season followed a similar pattern, as Notre Dame found itself facing six ranked teams and holding a 10-10 record on March 14. The Irish bounced back with a 20-game win streak and 26 wins in their last 30 games entering the NCAA regional.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf:
The 2004 season marks Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf’s third at the helm of the Irish softball program. Her 82 wins over the first two seasons are the most in school history (Liz Miller had 77 while Brian Boulac posted 61) and she has guided the team to set school records for home runs, RBI and fielding percentage over the last two seasons.
Gumpf’s record at Notre Dame stands at 111-45 (.712) entering this weekend’s action and her teams have captured back-to-back BIG EAST titles and NCAA regional appearances.
The 2004 season will feature Gumpf’s distinctive stamp on the program. The graduation of four starters in the infield gives the opportunity for the Irish starting lineup to feature five players from Gumpf’s first two recruiting classes at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame picked to win its third-straight BIG EAST title:
Notre Dame has been picked to finish first in the BIG EAST Conference for the 2004 season, as voted on by the league coaches and released by the conference office. The Irish garnered seven of 11 first place votes and 95 total points in the poll, followed by Villanova (83 points) and Boston College (74).
Notre Dame won a share of the BIG EAST regular-season crown for the seventh-straight season last year, finishing the conference schedule with a 14-3 record. Led by conference player of the year Andrea Loman, Notre Dame swept through the BIG EAST Championship, scoring 21 runs in three games and earning the title on a walk off home run by Loman in the ninth inning against Villanova.
2004 BIG EAST Preseason Softball Coaches Poll
1. Notre Dame, 95 points
2. Villanova, 83 points
3. Boston College, 74 points
4. Seton Hall, 70 points
5. St. John’s, 55 points
Virginia Tech, 55 points
7. Syracuse, 50 points
8. Connecticut, 49 points
9. Rutgers, 43 points
10. Pittsburgh, 20 points
11. Providence, 12 points
Keeping up with the Irish on the road:
A complete recap, plus game boxscore, will be posted on www.und.com as soon as possible upon completion of Notre Dame’s scheduled games for the day (although during preseason tournament action, the schedule might allow for game-by-game updates). The Notre Dame softball hotline will also be updated as soon as possible after each game, that line can be reached by calling (574) 631-3000, press 4, then 2.
BIG EAST Championship switched to Syracuse, N.Y. for 2004:
The 2004 BIG EAST Championship will be hosted by Syracuse University this season. During the previous two seasons, the BIG EAST Championship was held in Roanoke, Va., but a schedule change in the Division II National Championship (hosted by the city of Roanoke) dictated a return to campus sites for the BIG EAST Championship. The conference title will be on the line during play beginning Thursday, May 13 and continues until Saturday, May 15, with a raindate on Sunday, May 16.