May 11, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame’s athletic program is on the verge of its most successful spring season since 1996.
The Irish already have four teams headed for NCAA competition this spring. If the baseball squad qualifies for the NCAAs, it would mark the best performance by Notre Dame since ’96 when five spring teams — men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, softball and men’s lacrosse — all made it to NCAA competition.
Here’s what’s happened so far this spring:
* WOMEN’S TENNIS — Notre Dame won the ’99 BIG EAST Championship, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. The 12th-rated Irish play host to a first-round match against Illinois-Chicago at 10:00 a.m. EST Saturday at Notre Dame’s Courtney Tennis Center. Nineteenth-ranked Florida State and 38th-rated Iowa follow at 2:00 p.m., with the winners to meet at 11:00 a.m. Sunday in a second-round match.
* MEN’S TENNIS — Notre Dame won the ’99 BIG EAST Championship, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. The 30th-ranked Irish play a first-round match against 20th-rated Harvard at 2:00 p.m. EST Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. The winner of that match plays the Baylor-Indiana State winner at 10:00 a.m. Sunday in a second-round match.
* MEN’S LACROSSE — Notre Dame finished the regular-season at 8-5, ranked 13th nationally, and last Sunday earned an NCAA bid for the seventh time in eight seasons. The Irish meet fifth-seeded Georgetown at noon EDT Sunday in a first-round match at Towson State in Towson, Md.
* SOFTBALL — Notre Dame won its first BIG EAST Conference softball tournament title last weekend, earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. The Irish, who stand 41-18 (a perfect 16-0 in BIG EAST play), will learn their postseason destination Sunday night when the NCAA softball brackets are announced.
The 25th-ranked baseball team took a 39-11 record (and a 19-3 league mark, good for first place in the BIG EAST Conference) into a midweek series against third-rated Miami and three games May 15-16 against St. John’s. Paul Mainieri’s team will play in the BIG EAST championship May 19-22 in hopes of becoming the fifth Notre Dame squad to qualify for postseason play on a team basis.
The Irish already have tied their own record by winning six BIG EAST titles — in volleyball, women’s soccer, women’s swimming, women’s tennis, men’s tennis and softball — with baseball representing a chance for a seventh. The five women’s championships also is a BIG EAST record.
Additionally, the Irish may garner additional Sears Directors’ Cup all-sports competition points from men’s and women’s track (if they can improve on their indoor NCAA finishes of 33rd by the men and 47th by the women).
Notre Dame already has automatically qualified the following individuals for the NCAA outdoor track championships:
- — Ryan Shay in the 10,000 meters.
- — JoAnna Deeter in the 3,000 meters, 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
- — Alison Klemmer in the 10,000 meters.
Provisional qualifiers include Mike Brown in the pole vault, Shay and Antonio Arce in the 5,000 meters, Jennifer Engelhardt in the high jump, Nicole LaSelle in the 10,000 meters, Liz Grow in the 400 meters, Nadia Schmiedt in the 400 hurdles, Klemmer in the 5,000 meters.