Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Softball Set For BIG EAST Opener At Pittsburgh On Saturday

March 27, 2002

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

After three straight weather-induced cancellations and postponements, Irish BIG EAST schedule begins this weekend:

The University of Notre Dame softball team (8-12) will attempt to begin its BIG EAST schedule once again this weekend in Pittsburgh (10-16). The Irish were set for their first two home doubleheaders last weekend, but the Northern Indiana weather did not cooperate. The Rutgers and Villanova doubleheaders have been moved to May 3 and 5, respectively. The matchup between Notre Dame and Western Michigan on Tuesday, March 26, also was cancelled due to inclement weather.

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. Pittsburgh series history and team analysis:

Notre Dame and Rutgers will be meeting for the seventh and eighth time this weekend, with the Irish holding a 6-0 advantage in the series. Notre Dame has shut out the Panthers in the last three meetings.

Pittsburgh was able to begin their BIG EAST schedule last weekend with two losses to Rutgers. Those two losses broke a seven-game win streak for the Panthers.

Kate Mitchell and Ana Velazquez have been the offensive leaders for Pitt this season. Mitchell is batting .296 with three home runs and 17 RBI, while Velazquez has scored 12 runs off 24 hits (.286 avg.).

In the circle, Nikki Gasti has seen the most work for the Panthers (78.2 innings) with a 6-7 record and 3.11 ERA. Gina Bessolo had 13 appearances this season, a 3-6 record and 2.86 ERA.

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.

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).