May 5, 1999

IRISH WRAP UP FOURTH STRAIGHT TITLE: The Notre Dame softball team won its fourth straight BIG EAST regular season title after finishing 16-0 in conference play. The Irish clinched a share of the title on Saturday, May 1 with two wins over visiting St. John’s (13-0 and 7-0). Then on Sunday, the team won the title outright and claimed the top seed at this weekend’s BIG EAST tournament with a 1-0 win over second-place Seton Hall. The Irish also defeated Seton Hall in game two of the doubleheader by the score of 8-0 in six innings to end the season with a perfect 16-0 conference record.

SO WHO’S PLAYING ANYWAY?: Besides Notre Dame, which grabbed the number one seed, Seton Hall (14-2), Boston College (11-5) and Connecticut (9-7) round out the tournament field for this weekend’s conference championships hosted by the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.

Fourth-seeded Connecticut, which will play the Irish first, actually ended up tied in the regular season standings with Villanova at 9-7. The Huskies, however, advanced by virtue of a 1-1 record against second-seeded Seton Hall.

BIG EAST TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Although the BIG EAST was consolidated into one division this season, the double-elimination tournament format remains the same.

May 8
Game 1: #1 Notre Dame vs. #4 Connecticut, 10 a.m.
Game 2: #2 Seton Hall vs. #3 Boston College, 12 p.m.
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 4 p.m.

May 9
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 12 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Same as Game 6, 2:00 p.m.

BEST EVER: Notre Dame’s 16-0 BIG EAST record is the best ever since the BIG EAST league play began in 1992. That same year Connecticut went 6-0 marking the only other time that a BIG EAST squad has gone unbeaten in league play. Sophomore Melanie Alkire (Union City, Calif.) also set a Notre Dame record over the weekend by beating Meghan Murray’s single season record for BIG EAST batting average. In 16 games, Alkire hit .532 to beat Murray’s old mark of .529, which she set in 1997. Rutgers’ Juliette Brooks, who ended the 1999 regular season with a .537 overall mark, beat out Alkire for the BIG EAST record.

BIG EAST TOURNAMENT NOTES: The Irish advance to their fourth straight BIG EAST Tournament since joining the conference in 1996. All-time the team is 4-6 at the championships having finished as high as second in 1996, but never winning the overall title. Below is a history of Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Tournament.

1996: In its first year in the BIG EAST, the Irish enter the tournament as the top seed out of the south division. Jenn Giampaolo scored on a triple by Meghan Murray in the bottom of the seventh as Notre Dame defeats Providence in game one 3-2. In the second game, the Irish face off with defending champion Connecticut, losing 3-0. A day later, the team beats Villanova to set up a rematch in the championship against the Huskies. In that game, the Irish jump out to a 6-0 lead and hold on for a 6-3 win to set up the deciding game seven. In game seven, the Huskies score the game’s only run in the bottom of the sixth and survive a bases-loaded threat by Notre Dame in the bottom of the inning to eventually capture the BIG EAST title.

1997: Entering again as the top seed out of the BIG EAST South Division, the Irish looked sharp in their first game against eventual champion Boston College, jumping out to a 1-0 lead before play quickly deteriorated with heavy rain. The Eagles used two Irish errors in sloppy conditions to score a pair of runs in the top of the fifth before play was halted. A day later, Notre Dame could only manage three hits in the team’s final three at-bats, losing 3-1. The Irish rallied from deficits of 4-1 and 8-4 for an exciting 11-8 win over Rutgers in game two to stay alive. Liz Perkins matched single-game school records with five RBI and two home runs to keep the Irish alive. Connecticut then eliminated the Irish for the second straight year with a 2-1 victory.

1998: In the first ever BIG EAST Championships to be held at Notre Dame’s Ivy Field, the Irish came up winless, losing 4-1 to Connecticut and then a 1-0 heartbreaker against Rutgers. In the game against the Scarlet Knights, the Irish left eight runners stranded and gave up the game’s only run in the sixth inning.

IRISH GO BIG IN FINAL WEEK OF PLAY: The Irish captured two of the three BIG EAST honors following the last week of regular season play. Sophomore pitcher Jennifer Sharron (Agoura Hills, Calif.) picked up her second BIG EAST Co-Pitcher of the Week award of the season after pitching two, one-hit shutouts in Notre Dame’s 13-0 win over St. John’s and the team’s 1-0 victory over Seton Hall. Both hits Sharron gave up, incidentally, were doubles. She shared the award with Boston College pitcher Mary Dietz. The other Notre Dame player honored was freshman Jarrah Myers (Carbondale, Kan.) who also picked up her second BIG EAST Rookie of the Week award. Myers hit .385 (5-for-13) with five runs, three RBI, two stolen bases and a home run in the four BIG EAST games. Her home run against Seton Hall was her fourth of the season.

BEST IN THE BIG EAST, BASEBALL OR OTHERWISE: The Irish softball team isn’t the only Notre Dame team that’s having success this season in the BIG EAST. The Irish baseball team is also 16-3 in conference play and are atop the standings. Combined with the softball team’s 16-0 record, Notre Dame has a combined baseball and softball conference record of 30-3. The .909 combined-winning percentage would be the highest in BIG EAST history.

SCOUTING CONNECTICUT: The Irish, who are 1-4 all-time against the Huskies in BIG EAST tournament play, square off against Connecticut (26-18, 9-7) in the first game at 10 a.m. The fourth-seeded Huskies ended the regular season at 9-7 in conference play, which includes an 0-2 mark against the Irish and a 1-1 record versus Seton Hall and Boston College.

In the two teams’ last meeting back on April 24, the Irish won game one 7-3 and then run-ruled UCONN 9-1 in game two. All-time, the Irish lead the series 9-5, while they are 3-2 at Connecticut Softball Field.

Leading the way this season for 16th-year head coach Karen Mullins has been shortstop Jessica Yanosy, who owns a .404 batting average and ranks first in batting average among her team’s starters. First baseman Abbie Link has the team lead in home runs with five, which includes three in one game versus Rutgers, and RBI with 31. On the mound, senior right-handed pitcher Jill Cameron is 11-9 with a 2.98.

SCOUTING SETON HALL: In one of the biggest turn-arounds in league history, the Seton Hall Pirates, 0-15 last season, captured the second seed (its highest ever) with a 12-4 conference mark and an overall record of 37-6. This will be the Pirates’ third appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament with the last time being 1994 and the first time being 1991. Seton Hall is 1-3 at the championships.

The Irish beat the Pirates last Sunday 1-0 in game one and 8-0 in game two and hold a perfect 12-0 all-time mark versus Seton Hall. The eight runs in game two was the most that the Pirates have given up all season.

Seton Hall’s outstanding hitting has been just one of the factors that has led to the team’s turn-around. The team average currently stands at .323 overall and two players, third baseman Vickie Lamb (.486) and Natalie Denning (.415), both are hitting over .400. On the mound, right-handed pitchers Jennifer Berghoff (19-3) and Misty Beaver (18-3) have combined for all 37 wins and have 0.97 and 1.27 earned-run averages respectively.

SCOUTING BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles, the third seed, enter this weekend’s tournament as the two-time defending champions. This season, BC has struggled a bit with a 11-5 BIG EAST record and a 26-18 overall mark, after being picked to finish first in the BIG EAST preseason poll. In addition to the two conference losses to the Irish, the Eagles split with Connecticut, Villanova and Seton Hall.

Under head coach Jennifer Finley, preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Mary Dietz recorded two no-hitters versus Villanova and Providence and owns a 8-1 record in the BIG EAST with a 1.69 earned-run average and 83 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. Offensively, catcher Summer Jarratt has an overall batting average of .367 to lead her team, while Chris Vicari has the team lead in RBI (33), home runs (6) and doubles (7).

The Irish are 5-4 all-time versus Boston College and 0-1 in BIG EAST tournament play. The only BIG EAST Championship match between the two schools happened in 1997, when the Eagles beat the Irish 3-1 in a game that spanned two days because of rain.

NCAA PAIRINGS: The selection show for the NCAA tournament will take place on Sunday, May 16 at 7 p.m. central time. The tournament has been expanded this season from 32 to 48 teams, while the BIG EAST Tournament winner will still receive an automatic bid. Media members wishing to know satellite and call-in numbers should contact the Notre Dame Sports Information Office.

OTHER NOTES: The Irish received seven votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll, the most this season since the team got 24 on March 3…The BIG EAST Championship banquet will take place on Friday night at the host hotel in Hartford, Conn….the BIG EAST season awards will be announced at the banquet…with two more wins the Irish can reach the 40-win mark for the fourth time in the program’s 11-year history. The Irish also reached the 40-win plateau in 1994 (41-20), 1995 (40-19) and 1996 (48-16).

HEAD COACH LIZ MILLER: Irish head coach Liz Miller enters this weekend’s BIG EAST Tournament with an overall record of 813-275 (24 years) and a 272-133 mark at Notre Dame in seven seasons.

USA Today/NFCA Poll May 5, 1999

R School          1999 Record1. UCLA (23)             51-42. Fresno State (2)      57-83. Arizona              42-124. USL                   51-95. Washington           41-146. Michigan            46-9-17. Louisiana State       46-88. Southern Mississippi  48-69. Oklahoma             38-1210. Illinois-Chicago    62-1511. Oregon State        40-1912. Texas               39-1513. Arizona State       37-1914. Stanford            38-1915. South Carolina      46-1716. Massachusetts        38-817. DePaul              44-1118. Oregon              38-2219. California          36-1920. New Mexico          39-1221. Maryland            45-1922. Texas A&M           39-1823. Missouri            37-1624. South Florida       42-2425. Pacific             33-18
Others: Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Michigan State, Hofstra, Alabama, Florida Atlantic, Iowa, Hawai'i, NOTRE DAME, Central Michigan, Evansville, Long Beach State, Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Troy State and Florida State.

Players of The Week

March 8 – Megan O’Leary (Villanova)
March 15 – Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall)
March 22 – Mia Brickhouse (Villanova)
March 29 – Amy Laboe (Notre Dame),
Natalie Denning (Seton Hall)
April 6 – Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall)
April 12 – Juliette Brooks (Rutgers)
April 19 – Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall),
Abbie Link (UCONN)
April 26 – Vickie Lamb (Seton Hall),
Melanie Alkire (Notre Dame)
May 3 – Kelly Crosson (Rutgers)

Pitcher of The Week

March 8 – Kerri Stoller (Villanova)
March 15 – Jenn Berghoff (Seton Hall)
March 22 – Mary Dietz (B. College),
Carrie Walpole (Villanova)
March 29 – Misty Beaver (Seton Hall)
April 6 – Jennifer Sharron (ND),
Megan Biddle (UCONN)
April 12 – Mary Dietz (B. College)
April 19 – Jen Berghoff (Seton Hall)
April 26 – Angela Bessolo (ND),
Misty Beaver (Seton Hall)
May 3 – Jennifer Sharron (ND),
Mary Dietz (Boston College)

Rookie of The Week

March 8 – Molly Hanneman (Villanova)
March 15 – Heather Garboden (Villanova)
March 22 – Rhianna Rogers (Pittsburgh)
March 29 – Jarrah Myers (Notre Dame)
April 6 – Kim Jackson (Seton Hall)
April 12 – Caryn Haskins (UCONN)
April 19 – Kim Jackson (Seton Hall)
April 26 – Rebecca Eimen (ND)
May 3 – Jarrah Myers (Notre Dame)

BIG EAST Statistics – Conf. Only (5/2/99) Team Batting
1. Notre Dame (.347)
Team Pitching
1. Notre Dame (0.68 ERA)
Team Fielding
2. Notre Dame (.975)
Individual Batting
2. Melanie Alkire, ND (.532)
4. Amy Laboe, ND (.453)
9. Kris McCleary, ND (..375)
Individual Pitching
2. Jennifer Sharron, ND (0.29 ERA)
3. Angela Bessolo, ND (0.72 ERA)
2. Melanie Alkire (1.56/g)
3. Amy Laboe (1.50/g)
7. Jennifer Kriech (1.25/g)
9. Kris McCleary (1.25/g)
Home Runs
2. Melanie Alkire (4)
1. Lizzy Lemire (1)
Stolen Bases
3. Jennifer Kriech (6)
4. Amy Laboe, Rebecca Eimen (5)
1. Melanie Alkire (19)
2. Amy Laboe (17)
5. Jennifer Kriech (14)
2. Amy Laboe (6)
2. Jarrah Myers (14)
5. Melanie Alkire (13)
1. Jennifer Sharron (9)
3. Angela Bessolo (7)
4. Jennifer Sharron (49)
8. Angela Bessolo (36)
1. Michelle Moschel (3)
3. Melanie Alkire, Angela Bessolo (1)
Innings Pitched
8. Jennifer Sharron (48)

NCAA Rankings

Michigan, DePaul, Illinois-Chicago, Minnesota, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Penn State, Iowa, NOTRE DAME

Massachusetts, Hofstra, Seton Hall, Delaware, Boston U., Boston College, Cornell, Connecticut, Villanova, Canisius

Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech, Illinois State, Texas A&M, Southern Illinois, Baylor

LSU, S. Mississippi, USL South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland,South Florida, Mississippi State, Florida State

Fresno State, Hawai’i, CSUFullerton, Pacific, New Mexico, Long Beach St., UCSB, Utah

UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington, California, Oregon, Stanford, CSU Northridge CSU Sacramento