Feb. 25, 2003

Notre Dame junior second baseman Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati, Ohio) has been named the BIG EAST Conference baseball player of the week, after leading the Irish offense during the four season-opening games in Tempe Ariz. (Feb. 21-23; with wins over Dayton and Newman and a pair of losses to fourth-ranked Arizona State).

Sollmann led Notre Dame regulars during the week with a .471 batting average (8-for-17), plus six runs scored, two RBI, a triple, double, walk, stolen base, sacrifice bunt, no errors and no strikeouts – all while batting in his customary No. 2 spot in the lineup.

The team tri-captain picked up where he left off last season, after batting 23-for-41 (.561) in 2002 NCAA Tournament games, and he heads into this week’s action with just one error in his last 21 games with the Irish and no strikeouts in his last 15 games with ND.

Notre Dame remains in the national top 20 of all three major polls, holding the 14th spot in the Baseball America poll and 20th in both the Collegiate Baseball magazine and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

Two of Notre Dame’s opponents at this weekend’s Dairy Queen Classic (to be played at the Metrodome in Minneapolis) are listed among the national rankings. Wake Forest – which was one of the top-eight national seeds for the 2002 NCAAs (before being upset in the regional round) is seventh in the Baseball America poll and 10th according to both Collegiate Baseball and coaches poll – while Nebraska is ranked as high as 16th (in the coaches poll; also 19th by BA and 26th by CB).

Notre Dame opens play at the Dairy Queen Classic on Friday, Feb. 28, with a 12:15 (MST) game vs. Nebraska. Saturday’s ND-Minnesota game (2:00 p.m.) will be shown live on Fox Sports Net North, with the Irish closing the tournament on Sunday vs. Wake Forest (11:00 a.m.). Fox Sports Net North is available to various cable sports-package subscribers (including Direct TV, at channel 641), in addition to cable systems in the upper Midwest.

Notre Dame’s probable pitching rotation includes sophomore Chris Niesel vs. Nebraska, senior Peter Ogilvie vs. Minnesota and sophomore John Axford vs. WFU. The Irish are slated to face at least two lefthanded pitchers (Nebraska’s Aaron Marsden and WFU’s Tim Morley). Minnesota was expected to announce its pitching rotation on Wednesday.