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Softball Travels South For NFCA Leadoff Classic In Columbus, Georgia

Feb. 20, 2002

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NFCA Leadoff Classic * Feb. 22-24 * Columbus. Ga.

#19 Notre Dame vs. #11 Oregon State, Friday, Feb. 22, 5 p.m.

#19 Notre Dame vs. S. Mississippi, Friday, Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m.

#19 Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M, Saturday, Feb. 23, 12:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 23, Bracket Play Begins

Sunday, Feb. 24, Bracket Play Continues

Notre Dame ready to compete in NFCA Leadoff Classic for the fourth time:

The University of Notre Dame softball team (3-2) continues its challenging early-season schedule with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., this weekend. The Irish have not competed in the Leadoff Classic since 1998.

Notre Dame’s pool (four) this weekend includes #11 Oregon State, Southern Mississippi and Texas A&M. Bracket play, with spots determined by a team’s record vs. its pool opponents, begins Saturday, Feb. 23, at 5 p.m.

The NFCA Leadoff Classic features 18 teams that competed in the 2001 NCAA Softball Championship last season. Defending champion Stanford (ranked third in the nation) is in the field, along with Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, Nebraska, Michigan, Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Massachusetts and Washington.

Notre Dame vs. Oregon State series history and team analysis:

Notre Dame and Oregon State will be meeting for just the second time on Friday. The previous meeting occurred in the 1998 Fresno State Classic, a 7-1 victory for the then 20th-ranked Beavers. Oregon State will enter this weekend’s action with a 12-2 record, having posted 12 victories in a row after losing its first game of the year to BYU. The Beavers’ other setback came in their last game, a 3-1 loss to #9 Nebraska.

So far this season, junior utility Clare Burnum and junior second base Brynnen Guthrie have keyed the Oregon State offense. Burnum has 20 hits in 14 games (.488 avg.) with eight doubles and 10 RBI. Guthrie has 20 hits as well this season (.400 avg.) with 16 RBI and four home runs.

In the circle, Crystal Draper has seen most of the action (42.1 innings pitched) with a 2.13 ERA and perfect 6-0 record. Monica Hoffman (2-1, 1.25 ERA) and Kristen Hunter (4-1, 1.35 ERA) are also available.

Notre Dame vs. Southern Mississippi series history and team analysis:

Friday’s meeting will be the first ever between Notre Dame and Southern Mississippi.

S. Mississippi has played six games this season, posting a 4-2 record. Heather Bell and Melanie Hymel spark the offense, with Bell hitting two home runs this season and posting seven hits in 14 at bats. Hymel already has three triple this season and a .444 batting average. Kenya Peters also has become the career leader in home runs for the Golden Eagles, hitting her 30th last weekend.

Two pitchers have seen a majority of the action for S. Mississippi this season. Jessica Holaway is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 21.0 innings pitched, while Melissa Cundiff is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA.

Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M series history and team analysis:

Notre Dame and Texas A&M will be meeting for the fourth time on Saturday. The Aggies hold a 2-1 advantage in the series, with Notre Dame’s victory coming in 1996 (3-1 over 14th-ranked Aggies). Saturday’s meeting between the two teams will be the first of two scheduled games in two weeks between the Fighting Irish and the Aggies. Notre Dame will travel to the Aggie Invitational on March 1-3, in College Station, Texas.

Texas A&M is 10-3 in 2002 and brings a eight-game win streak into this weekend’s tournament. Notre Dame and Texas A&M have already shared an opponent this season. The Irish defeated New Mexico State 9-7 in 10 innings last weekend, while the Aggies suffered a 6-0 defeat to NMS on Feb. 9.

DP Lindsay Wilhelmson leads the Aggie offense with a .387 batting average with 12 hits in 31 at bats. C Selena Collins has been the big RBI producer, knocking in 13 runs and adding four home runs.

Jessica Slataper has seen the most pitching action for Texas A&M this season. With 43.0 innings pitched, she boasts a 5-1 record and 1.47 ERA.

Deanna Gumpf continues her first season as head softball coach at the University of Notre Dame:

One of the top pitching 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.

Irish enjoy freshman production during first weekend of action:

All five of Notre Dame’s freshmen saw action during the first weekend of competition in the 2002 season. Liz Hartmann and Megan Ciolli started each game for the Irish (Hartmann started one game at first and four in the outfield, while Ciolli was in the outfield for all five games), RHPs Carrie Wisen and Steffany Stenglein pitched a majority of the innings for the team and Annie Dell’Aria started once at DP and had seven plate appearances.

Combined, the class posted nine hits, four RBI and two clutch hits over the five games. Ciolli launched the game-winning sacrifice fly in the victory over Auburn, while Hartmann’s single down the leftfield line scored Jarrah Myers with the game-tying run vs. New Mexico State.

Irish defense stars during first weekend of competition:

As the Irish posted a 3-2 record during last weekend’s Pepsi Arizona Classic, the team backed up its claim as one of the best defensive units in the country.

Notre Dame committed just two errors in 165 chances last weekend – a .988 fielding percentage. Notre Dame also had two outfield assists (one from Liz Hartmann and Megan Ciolli, each) and turned four double plays. The three players that touched the ball the most last weekend, Andrea Loman (13 PO, 14 A), Jarrah Myers (28 PO, 6 A) and Lisa Mattison (37 PO, 1 A) were perfect in the field.

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. Last weekend, Myers hit .333 (five for 15) with two RBI and two stolen bases.

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).

Last weekend, Loman led the team in hitting (.375, six hits, two RBI, one HR) and had 14 assists at third base, while helping turn two double plays.

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.

Bledsoe started slow offensively last weekend, but was sure handed at shortstop with nine put outs and 14 assists.

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.

Madrid posted two RBI last weekend and had 10 assists in the field.

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.

Mattison had a great opening weekend, going five for 16 (.313) with two RBI. She was also sure-handed defensively, as the junior was perfect on 38 chances.

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

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 19th 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 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

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).