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Softball Set To Begin Season In Arizona This Weekend

Feb. 13, 2002

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Arizona Pepsi Classic * Feb. 15-17 * Tucson, Ariz.

#14 Notre Dame at #1 Arizona, Friday, Feb. 15, 5 p.m.

#14 Notre Dame vs. Auburn, Friday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

#14 Notre Dame vs. Louisville, Saturday, Feb. 16, 11 a.m.

#14 Notre Dame vs. New Mexico State, Saturday, Feb. 16, 1 p.m.

#14 Notre Dame vs. #25 South Florida, Sunday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m.

Notre Dame begins 2002 season in Arizona:

The University of Notre Dame softball team kicks off its 2002 slate against defending National Champion and #1-ranked Arizona during the Arizona Pepsi Classic in Tucson, Ariz., this weekend. Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, New Mexico State and #25 South Florida, along with the Irish, will make up the field in this weekend’s round-robin tournament.

The Irish will hope to repeat the early-season success they enjoyed in the first tournament of the 2001 season. Notre Dame knocked off #4 Washington and #8 South Carolina to win the Holiday Inn Invitational in Tampa, Fla., last year and end up beginning the season 5-0.

Notre Dame vs. Arizona series history and analysis:

Notre Dame and Arizona will be meeting for the fifth time, with the Wildcats posting all four wins in the series. The teams last met March 19, 2000, at the Kia Klassic, with Arizona winning the game 6-3.

The Wildcats enter this weekend’s tournament ranked #1 in the country and boast a 7-2 record. They competed in the Arizona State Fiesta Bowl tournament last weekend (Feb. 8 – 10), losing to Mississippi State and Wisconsin, but also claiming victories over SW Texas State, Texas, Cal State Fullerton and UMass.

Notre Dame should see RHP Jennie Finch in the tournament opener. The Wildcat senior finished the 2001 season with an NCAA record 32-0 and was named the national player of the year. Finch is 5-0 this season with a 1.06 ERA, striking out 52 batters in 34 innings.

Arizona’s top offensive threat so far this season is freshman outfielder Courtney Fossatti, who has banged out 16 hits in nine games. Finch also is a strong offensive threat, contributing 13 RBIs so far this season.

Notre Dame vs. Auburn series history and analysis:

Notre Dame and Auburn will be meeting for the fourth time, with the Irish holding a 2-1 advantage in the series. The last meeting occurred in the 1998 NFCA Leadoff Classic (Feb. 28), a 1-0 Notre Dame victory.

Auburn is a perfect 8-0 this season, led by senior OF Ashley Moore (.458 BA, eight RBI) and pitcher Kristina Keyes (0.82 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 22 innings).

Notre Dame vs. Louisville series history and analysis:

Notre Dame and Louisville will be meeting for the first time in this weekend’s tournament. A member of Conference USA, Louisville has started the 2002 season 0-4, but three of those losses have come to ranked teams (#9 Washington, #15 Florida State and #22 South Carolina).

Jessica Rak (1.46 ERA) and Krystle Herold (4.91 ERA) have split duties in the pitching circle for the Cardinals, while Lisa Estes leads them in hitting (.444).

Notre Dame vs. New Mexico State series history and analysis:

Notre Dame and New Mexico State will be meeting for the first time in this weekend’s tournament. The Aggies have started the 2002 season 4-5, posting two victories over Eastern New Mexico and Western New Mexico, respectively. Shayne Gipson leads the Aggies in hitting (.419), while Anita Knight has proven to be the top NMS pitcher with a 3.09 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Notre Dame vs. South Florida series history and analysis:

Notre Dame and South Florida will be meeting for the sixth time on Sunday, Feb. 17, and South Florida leads the series 3-2. Notre Dame has won the two most recent meetings between the two teams – a 2-0 upset of a sixth-ranked USF squad in 1999 and a 5-3 victory in the Holiday Inn Invitational (Tampa, Fla.) last season.

South Florida enters this weekend’s tournament with a 3-6-1 record, but have won three of their last four games. USF is ranked 25th in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25. Renee Oursler is the catalyst for the South Florida team, with seven RBI in 28 at bats. Niki Trowell leads the Bulls’ rotation, with 34.0 innings pitched, 1.44 ERA and 3-2 record.

Deanna Gumpf begins her career as head softball coach at the University of Notre Dame:

One of the top pitching coaches in the nation, Deanna Gumpf takes 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.

Irish veterans will receive a boost from talented freshman class:

Notre Dame returns five starters from the 2001 team, with virtually the entire infield back intact. The talented Irish freshman class, however, will have an impact on the lineup. Freshmen pitchers Steffany Stenglein and Carrie Wisen will log a lot of innings this season, while classmates Megan Ciolli and Liz Hartmann have made strong cases for starting positions throughout the fall and winter workouts. Freshman Annie Dell’Aria, who will serve as a backup catcher to All-American Jarrah Myers, will provide the Irish with a strong bat off the bench.

Returning infield one of the best in the country:

Even as head coach Deanna Gumpf shifted her infield in the off-season, the Notre Dame defense could be among the best in the country this season.

The Irish defense will begin and end with All-American Jarrah Myers behind the plate. Myers posted a .992 fielding percentage at the catcher position last season, committing just four errors in 514 chances.

Junior Andrea Loman will shift from first to third base this season. Loman has the ability to dominate the hot corner, as she can eliminate the opposing team’s ability to bunt and move runners up. Loman is currently second on the all-time fielding percentage list (.986) and posted just five errors last year (in 300 chances).

The new starting shortstop for the Irish this season will be former third base junior Andria Bledsoe. Bledsoe brings both a strong arm and an ability to make the play deep in the hole on both sides of her position – and she compiled a .933 fielding percentage last season.

Alexis Madrid will return to patrol second base for the third consecutive year in 2002. Supremely steady, Madrid bobbled just seven errors last year in 190 chances for a .963 fielding percentage.

The first base position is a bit unsettled, but either junior Lisa Mattison or freshman Liz Hartmann will bring a strong defensive presence on the corner. Mattison had just four errors last season, while Hartmann’s defensive range allows her to back up every infield position and play in the outfield as well.

Together, the returning players in the Irish infield posted a .975 fielding percentage in 2001, committing just 29 errors in 1,181 chances.

Myers and Kriech are the Irish offensive leaders:

Just a quick glance at the 2001 Notre Dame softball statistics will show just how important leadoff hitter Jenny Kriech and cleanup hitter Jarrah Myers were to the Irish offense. Both players posted career-high numbers last season in most offensive categories, including Myers’ .380 team-leading batting average and Kriech’s team-leading and school-record 10 triples. Kriech also pounded out 72 hits to earn All-America honors for the first time in her career, while Myers posted 41 RBI, a .620 slugging percentage and .992 fielding percentage to join her teammate on the NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America squad (third team).

Both players return to their roles with the team this season as captains (along with classmate Kas Hoag) and look to improve upon their numbers from a season ago.

Notre Dame enters 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 are currently ranked 14th in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, the highest preseason ranking in school history.

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

Jarrah Myers 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

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.

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 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

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).