Junior Stephanie Brown led the team in hits (79), batting average (.393), runs (44) and stolen bases (20) during the 2006 season.

Softball Ready To Begin Spring Break Trip At Cal Poly

March 10, 2006

Complete Release in PDF Format
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Irish on Spring Break
Notre Dame at Cal Poly SLO, Sunday, March 12, 12 noon (PT)
Judi Garman Classic • Fullerton, Calif. • March 15-18
Notre Dame at CS Fullerton, Wednesday, March 15, 7:00 p.m. (PT)
Notre Dame vs. Arizona State, Thursday, March 16, 4:00 p.m. (PT)
Notre Dame vs. Florida State, Friday, March 17, 1:30 p.m. (PT)

2006 Spring Break trip will take Irish to California –

Notre Dame’s eight players from California will return to their home state over the next week for semester break, taking on Cal Poly then entering the 2006 Judi Garman Classic at CS Fullerton.

Welcome Back Coach Gumpf !

Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf will return to the Irish dugout for the rest of the season, beginning with Sunday’s doubleheader at Cal Poly SLO. Gumpf missed the first three weekends of the season in preparation for, and recovery from, the birth of her second child.

Deanna and her husband John welcomed Tatum Elizabeth at approximately 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Both mother and the future left-handed pitching prospect are doing well.

Irish ALERT continues this weekend –

A joint effort between Centennial Wireless, Notre Dame Sports Properties and the Notre Dame Sports Information Office will make up-to-the-minute text messaging a reality this season. Notre Dame has announced that the Irish ALERT system, which will cover baseball, softball, men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse will begin this spring for a free trial.

Simply sign up for the service at www.und.com and your mobile device will receive score updates from each of the four mentioned sports throughout the 2006 season. The service also will provide periodical updates providing team schedules and special alerts when content is uploaded on www.und.com.

For softball, updates are sent when the weekly release is posted on www.und.com, when a schedule change pops up (delayed games, added games) and in the first, third, fifth and seventh innings of each Irish game.

Keep up with the Irish on the road –

Notre Dame softball family, friends and fans can keep up with the Irish four different ways this season.

1. Live audio broadcasts of selected Notre Dame games will be available throughout the year. The next live audio broadcast will be Notre Dame’s doubleheader at Cal Poly (Sunday, March 12) and the rematch with CS Fullerton at the Judi Garman Classic on Wednesday, Feb. 15 (subscription to Fighting Irish All-Access required, see www.und.com and click on `multimedia’ for more information). If the Irish are scheduled to play on the main field at the Judi Garman Classic during bracket play, www.und.com will make every effort to broadcast those games via live audio coverage.

2. The Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000) will be updated as soon as possible after each game this season. After dialing in, press 4 for baseball/softball information, then press 2 for the latest update for the Irish softball team.

3. For the Judi Garman Classic, all games involving Notre Dame will have Gametracker live statistical updates available. For each game, the Gametracker link will appear in the schedule box on the front page of www.und.com and on the softball schedule page.

4. Irish ALERT (see preceeding note), a text message service that provides up-to-the-minute game scores.

Second weekend recap –

Notre Dame experienced a roller coaster performance at the Best Western Airport Festival in Tulsa, Okla., last weekend. The Irish lost to #17 Nebraska 5-2 in eight innings, dropped a tough 2-1 game to Tulsa, rebounded to down Northern Iowa 10-1 in five innings and dominate Kansas 5-2, but eventually ended the weekend on a down note with a 2-1, eight-inning loss to Stephen F. Austin.

The Irish offense was both hot and cold during the tournament run. After posting just 11 hits in the first two games vs. Nebraska and Tulsa, Notre Dame exploded for 22 hits in 12 innings on day two. The Irish scored 10 runs on eight hits vs. Northern Iowa, then stung Kansas for 13 hits in the final game of the day.

In the loss to SFA, Notre Dame stranded 12 runners on base and allowed the Lady Jacks to score on a wild pitch and error.

Two Notre Dame players repeated all-tournament honors during the Best Western Airport Festival. Senior Sara Schoonaert and junior Stephanie Brown, who both earned all-conference honors at the adidas Golden Panther Invitational two weekends ago, also received the nod last weekend.

Both players hit .500 during the Tulsa tournament, as Schoonaert was eight of 16 with two doubles and three RBI. Brown ended up seven for 14 with two doubles, three RBI and three stolen bases.

Schoonaert’s sizzling start –

Senior shortstop Sara Schoonaert has begun the 2006 season in career-high form, leading the team with a .375 batting average and five doubles. She has been named to two all-tournament teams (adidas Golden Panther Invitational, Best Western Airport Festival) in successive weeks and has been incredibly steady on defense (perfect in 43 defensive plays so far this season).

Schoonaert also boasts a .500 slugging percentage and has stolen five bases in 2006.

Booth recovers from rough start –

Senior RHP Heather Booth struggled in the first weekend of action for the Irish at UNLV, but since that forgettable weekend, the Irish staff ace has lived up to her billing as the team’s pitching leader.

Over the last two weekends of action, Booth is 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA (the loss coming to #17 Nebraska in eight innings), four complete games and one shutout. She also has stepped up her strikeout ratio tremendously. Typically averaging around six strikeouts per game during her career, Booth has posted 50 Ks in her last 36.1 innings pitched. That comes out to a ratio of 9.70 per seven innings.

Those strikeout numbers are pushing Booth up the Notre Dame career charts as well. Earlier this season she became the third Notre Dame pitcher to surpass 600 Ks in a career and is quickly looking to join Jennifer Sharron (728 from 1998-01), Steffany Stenglein (790 from 2002-05) and Terri Kobata (907 from 1993-96) as the only Irish pitchers to post 700 strikeouts in a career.

ND sereis history vs. Spring Break opponents –

vs. Cal Poly SLO – first meeting

vs. CS Fullerton – 2-4, including a 9-3 loss to the Titans at the UNLV Desert Classic on Feb. 19.

vs. Arizona State – 1-7, the most recent meeting occurred last season when the Sun Devils inched by the Irish 2-1 at the Palm Spring Classic … Notre Dame’s lone win in the series came in 2001, a 5-1 victory over #10 Arizona State at the Kia Klassic.

vs. Florida State – 1-3, the most recent meeting took place at FSU in 2004, a 10-inning battle that the fourth-ranked Seminoles won 4-3 … Notre Dame’s win in the series came in 1996 (1-0 at #9 Florida State).

Preview of this weekend’s opponent –

Cal Poly enters the weekend with a 7-14 record … the Mustangs boast a 9-4 victory over #23 Fresno State on March 3 … junior OF Lisa Modglin has paced the Cal Poly offense this season, hitting .368 with four home runs and 18 RBI … sophomore Robyn Kontra has seen a majority of the pitching time for the Mustangs, going 5-7 with a 3.95 ERA … Cal Poly is 0-2 at Bob Janssen Field this season.

CS Fullerton, Arizona State and Florida State will be previewed in a release next week before the start of the Judi Garman Classic.

Notre Dame in early-season tournaments –

Notre Dame began what is now the collegiate softball tradition of early-season tournament action in 1990 when it took part in a Chicago, Ill., tournament. Since that trip, Notre Dame has visited 32 different areas of the country and participated in several elite tournaments. Notre Dame’s all-time record in early-season tournament action is 178-126 (.586) and its most frequent sites visited have been South Florida (seven times), Columbus, Ga. (six times), and CS Fullerton (four times). This season, Notre Dame will visit Las Vegas, Nev. (for the third time), Miami, Fla., Tulsa, Okla., and CS Fullerton.

New BIG EAST Conference unveiled in 2006 –

The BIG EAST Conference expansion, which officially took place this fall, has garnered most of its attention in men’s basketball. The conference has quickly transformed into the top men’s basketball league in the country, but the effect that expansion will have on softball cannot be overlooked. The BIG EAST welcomes three traditional softball powers into the conference this season with the addition of DePaul, Louisville and South Florida. All three of the new teams will compete to end Notre Dame’s regular-season conference title streak which stands at 10 years entering the `06 campaign.

Combined with an already solid conference lineup, the BIG EAST is now arguably the top softball league east of the Mississippi River. With a new league alignment, the BIG EAST Championship – scheduled to be played in South Bend, Ind., beginning May 11 – will feature a new schedule. The top eight teams from the league standings will take part in a single-elimination, three-day tournament to determine the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Championship.

Irish captains –

Notre Dame will feature four captains this season for just the second time in the program’s history. The senior class of Heather Booth, Mallorie Lenn, Meagan Ruthrauff and Sara Schoonaert will provide leadership both on and off the field for the team in 2006. The only other team to feature four captains was Notre Dame’s most successful team ever – the 2001 squad. Current Irish assistant coach Lizzy Lemire shared the captaincy that season with Melanie Alkire, Danielle Klayman and Jennifer Sharron. The Irish finished 54-7 in `01 and earned a number-one seed in the NCAA Championship.

Booth to continue climb up Notre Dame career charts –

Senior co-captain Heather Booth, a front-line starter for the Irish since she walked on campus four years ago, will continue her climb up the Irish career pitching charts this season. The single-season record holder for complete games (30 in `04), Booth’s current all-time statistical ranking include third in appearances (126), third in starts (104), fourth in wins (72), third in complete games (66), fourth in shutouts (22), third in innings pitched (694.1), fifth in winning percentage (.718, 69-75), fifth in ERA (1.63) and fourth in strikeouts (626).

See page seven of this notes package for a complete listing of Notre Dame’s current players on several different all-time statistical rankings.

Season schedule will be a challenge –

The 2006 season will prove a challenge for the Irish, as the team will face several teams ranked in the top 25, or just out of the national rankings.

According to the latest rankings, the Irish will face (NFCA rankings first, followed by USA Softball) #22/21 DePaul #16/16 Northwestern, #11/10 Arizona State and #21/22 Louisville. Notre Dame has already faced #14/12 Oregon State (5-0 loss) BYU (8-3 victory), who has been in and out of the national polls this season and #17/17 Nebraska (5-3, eight-inning loss). In addition, Notre Dame will face CS Fullerton, Florida State, UNLV and South Flordia – all teams who have received at least one vote in the preseason national rankings.

Notre Dame knocked off four ranked teams durng the 2005 season. The Irish defeated #21 South Florida and #19 Florida on their first weekend of action (Feb. 12-13), then knocked off #5/6 Tennessee in its last game at the Palm Springs Classic. Notre Dame also defeated #15 Northwestern with a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh on Tuesday, April 26, 2005.

Under head coach Deanna Gumpf, the Irish have knocked off at least three ranked teams in three of four seasons (#25 South Florida, #4 Nebraska, #15 Oregon State in `02; #8 Nebraska, #14 Nebraska, #18 Nebraska in `04). The Irish have defeated a total of 13 ranked teams during Gumpf’s tenure. The most ranked wins for the Irish came in 2001, when the team defeated eight teams ranked in the national top 25.

New coaching staff, new Gumpf Family addition –

Notre Dame unveiled its new coaching staff in a unique way this season. Lizzy Lemire, a 2001 Notre Dame graduate, has joined the staff and Kris Ganeff (Notre Dame `99) moves up into the first assistant role. The change came about with the decision of former Irish assistant coach Charmelle Green to take a job in Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Development Program.

The unusual twist to the story is that Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf missed Lemire’s official debut with the team. Gumpf and her husband John welcomed their second child, Tatum Elizabeth, on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Deanna has rejoined the team full time on the road for its Spring Break trip to Southern California.

To aid in the pitching staff’s development during Gumpf’s pregnancy, former Irish assistant coach and 1993 Penn State graduate Dawn Austin returned to the team as a volunteer assistant coach this season.

Ruthrauff reaches career walks record –

Senior 1B Meagan Ruthrauff, Notre Dame’s cleanup hitter the last three seasons, is not only a potent RBI producer (126 in three years, tied for seventh on the all-time Notre Dame list), but she also has outstanding plate discipline.

Ruthrauff has drawn 90 walks during her career, surpassing matching Andrea Loman’s (2000-03) previous Notre Dame career record of 87.

Ruthrauff has already drawn 10 free passes this season and ranks one-two on the single-season walk list at Notre Dame. In 2004, she drew a record 36 base on balls and followed up with 31 walks in 2005.