Feb. 27, 2002
Aggie Invitational II * March 1-3 * College Station, Texas
#24 Notre Dame vs. #19 Louisiana-Lafayette, Friday, March 1, 11 a.m.
#24 Notre Dame vs. Illinois State, Friday, March 1, 1:15 p.m.
#24 Notre Dame at #23 Texas A&M, Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m.
#24 Notre Dame vs. Illinois State, Saturday, March 2, 1:15 p.m.
#24 Notre Dame vs. #19 Louisiana-Lafayette, Sunday, March 3, 10 a.m.
Notre Dame continues early-season tournament schedule in Texas this weekend:
The University of Notre Dame softball team (4-6) heads to College Station, Texas, this weekend for Texas A&M’s Aggie Invitational II, set to run March 1 – 3.
The 24th-ranked Irish are continuing their challenging early-season schedule this weekend. Last weekend’s NFCA Leadoff Classic saw Notre Dame play three consecutive top-25 teams, dropping each game by a single run. Notre Dame has already faced five ranked teams this season, plus Texas A&M, who entered this weekend’s USA Today/NFCA Top 25 ranked 23rd.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf’s team will face the Aggies this weekend, as well as two matchups each with #19 Louisiana-Lafayette and Illinois State.
Early-season schedule among the toughest in school history:
Notre Dame’s early-season schedule, which has included #1 Arizona, #25 South Florida, #11 Oregon State, #8 Arizona State and #4 Oklahoma (all rankings reflect position at the time of the game), will be the toughest opening 15-game stretch since 1998 (when the Irish faced 10 top-25 teams). Notre Dame will face eight top-25 teams in its first 15 games this season.
Notre Dame’s first 15 games will wrap up this weekend, when the Irish face #23 Texas A&M and #19 Louisiana-Lafayette twice.
Notre Dame vs. Louisiana-Lafayette series history and team analysis:
Notre Dame and Louisiana-Lafayette will be meeting for the second time this weekend. The Irish won the only previous meeting between the two teams, defeating the then 16th-ranked Lady Cajuns 4-2 in the 2000 Kia Klassic.
Louisiana-Lafayette will enter this weekend’s competition ranked 19th in the nation. They enter the week with a 10-2 record, boasting two victories over Florida last weekend. Becky McMurtry and Alana Addison have been the top offensive threats for the Lady Cajuns this season. McMurtry has 16 hits (.410 average), five home runs and 12 RBI. Addison is right behind her teammate in average (.405) and she also has five RBI with 14 RBI. ULL utilizes three pitchers, who have all seen over 20 innings of action this season. Brooke Mitchell has been the top performer thus far, going 4-0 with a 0.92 ERA in 30.1 innings. Michael Parrott is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA.
Notre Dame vs. Illinois State series history and team analysis:
Notre Dame and Illinois State will be meeting for the fourth time this weekend, with the Irish holding a 2-1 lead in the series. The last meeting between the two teams occurred in the NCAA Region VII Tournament in 2001, a 2-1 victory for the Irish.
Illinois State will enter this weekend’s tournament with a 4-6 record. The Red Birds dropped the first four games of the season, but rebounded to win four in a row – including victories over #9 Arizona State and #16 Iowa.
Cutie Taylor leads the Illinois State offense this season, hitting .406 with four home runs and nine RBI. Corey Harris also is a dangerous hitter, posting a .400 batting average thus far this season with four RBI.
In the circle, Andra Rast has pitched the most innings, compiling a 2.61 ERA, 3-1 record and 27 strikeouts in 31.0 innings.
Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M series history and team analysis:
Notre Dame and #23 Texas A&M will be meeting for the fifth time on Saturday and second time in a week. The Aggies hold a 3-1 advantage in the series, after their 2-1 victory over Notre Dame in last weekend’s NFCA Leadoff Classic. The Irish out hit the Aggies 7-5, but TAMU’s Adrian Gregory provided both RBIs for her team (with a solo home run and single).
Texas A&M’s Jessica Slataper was brilliant while earning the victory, pitching a complete game and striking out 12. Steffany Stenglein kept Notre Dame in the game, going six innings, allowing five hits and striking out five.
Deanna Gumpf continues her first season as head softball coach at the University of Notre Dame:
One of the top young 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.
Pitchers show marked improvement in two weeks:
The Notre Dame pitching staff, made up of freshmen Steffany Stenglein and Carrie Wisen, along with junior Jessica Sharron, improved in all statistical areas during the NFCA Leadoff Classic last weekend.
When the Irish began the 2002 season in Arizona, both Wisen and Stenglein saw their first collegiate action. The team posted a 3-2 record, but the Notre Dame pitching staff surendered 17 earned runs and had 31 walks as a unit.
Those numbers were turned around in last weekend’s NFCA Leadoff Classic. Notre Dame’s team ERA dropped from 3.13 to 2.57, while the pitchers gave up just nine walks over the course of the weekend.
Stenglein, who struggled through the first weekend of the season with a 4.88 ERA and 2-2 record, rebounded to give up just seven earned runs last weekend (1.96 ERA) and strikeout 27 batters in 25 innings. She also earned her first career shutout and complete game victory against Southern Mississippi in Notre Dame’s 6-0 victory.
Irish defense continues to shine:
Notre Dame players and coaches had a feeling that their defense was going to be strong this season, but the effort the Irish have given thus far in 2002 has been stellar.
Notre Dame has committed just seven errors in 10 games this season and no Irish player has more than two errors to her credit.
Third base Andrea Loman and shortstop Andria Bledsoe have been perfect in the field so far, while first base Lisa Mattison and catcher Jarrah Myers have only committed one error a piece. Notre Dame’s team fielding percentage is currently .977.
Lisa Mattison has been a catalyst for the Irish offense over the first two weekends:
Junior first base Lisa Mattison, who entered the 2002 season with 31 career hits, has been one of the hottest hitters on the Notre Dame team this season.
Mattison has 10 hits in 30 at bats this season (for a .333 batting average that is tied for the team lead), including a double and three RBI. She also has been very dependable at first base, committing just one error this season on a dropped throw.
Megan Ciolli dominating at the top of the Irish lineup:
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 .323 batting average this season with 10 hits in 12 games. Among those hits are her first career home run, two doubles and three 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. In Notre Dame’s 6-0 victory over Southern Mississippi, Jenny Kriech led off the second inning with a single. Ciolli was planning to move Kriech over to second, but the Irish co-captain was thrown out trying to steal.
Ciolli quickly shifted from bunt to hit away, and she smacked the next pitch for her first career home run.
Notre Dame entered 2002 season with highest-ever preseason ranking:
After enjoying the most successful season in Notre Dame softball history in 2001 (54-7 record, 33-game win streak and peaking at #8 in the nation), Notre Dame welcomes back a strong nucleus from last year’s team. The Irish were ranked 14th in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, the highest preseason ranking in school history.
The Irish are currently ranked 24th in the nation.
Notre Dame’s previous highest preseason ranking occurred prior to last season, when the Irish entered the 2001 schedule ranked 19th. The Irish ended the ’02 slate ranked 11th.
Notre Dame in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25:
Here are Notre Dame’s rankings each week in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 (released on Wednesday each week of the season) –
Feb. 20: 19
Feb. 27: 24
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 Compagnie 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 www.aeropostale.com.
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 ND 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 on March 23, hosting a doubleheader against St. John’s.
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 www.und.com, 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 www.und.com.
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 menu later will be streamlined after the finish of the winter 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 www.und.com.
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 and 2003 seasons.
(3) Men’s basketball information (then press 1) and baseball information (press 2).
(4) Women’s basketball information (then press 1) and softball information (press 2).
(5) Men’s ice hockey information (then 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).