April 21, 2003
Sophomore shortstop Matt Macri (Clive, Iowa) has become the third Notre Dame baseball player to be named BIG EAST player of the week during the 2003 season, after a breakthrough performance in last week’s six games.
Macri – who has overcome early-season struggles to bat .455 in the last 10 games – led the Irish in most offensive categories during the April 14-19 games, including team-best totals in hits and batting average (10-for-19, .526), slugging (1.000) and on-base (.571) percentages, total bases (21), doubles (4) and triples (2), plus seven runs scored (second on the team), a home run, walk, hit-by-pitch, stolen base and sacrifice bunt. He also hit 5-for-8 during the week with runners on base, totaled just three strikeouts and two errors (.941 fielding pct., in 34 chances) and helped the Irish turn five double plays.
His biggest game of the week came in the 9-3 win over Seton Hall, batting 3-for-4 with a triple, two doubles and a pair of runs scored – plus a leaping stab of a linedrive and strong relay throws on four double plays in that game. He opened the week by batting 3-for-3 in the 8-3 win over Central Michigan, with a 2-run home run, a triple and three total runs scored, before singling in the loss to Eastern Michigan. Macri – who had hits in five of the six games, with multiple hits in three of them – then had a hand in three of five runs to help beat Pittsburgh, 5-2 (2-for-3, 2 doubles, RBI, 2 runs), singled and scored in the 5-3 loss to the Panthers, and drew a walk in the 4-3 win over SHU.
Macri made four errors during the opening week of the season but now owns 27 error-free efforts in his 35 games played. His .504 season slugging pct. ranks fourth-best on the team while he has pushed his season batting average to .304, bested by just three members of the current starting lineup, and ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in doubles (12, fifth) and triples (4, second).
Junior second baseman Steve Sollmann twice has been named BIG EAST player of the week this season, with sophomore first baseman Matt Edwards also earning the honor (sophomore RHP Chris Niesel is ND’s only 2003 recipient of a BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week award).
IRISH REMAIN IN TOP 20 – Despite suffering a pair of 5-3 losses in last week’s action, Notre Dame remains in the national top 20 based on its strong season showing that again has the Irish on the verge of reaching 30 wins with single-digit losses (29-8) … ND currently checks in at 16th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine poll, 17th in the Baseball America poll and 18th in the USA Today Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches poll.
BIG EAST STAT LEADERS – Notre Dame currently ranks fourth among BIG EAST teams for overall batting average (.307), second in staff ERA (3.55, behind Virginia Tech’s 3.00) and first in fielding percentage (.970) … Pittsburgh is the only other team ranked among the top four in each of those categories (2nd in batting, 4th in ERA and fielding) … junior 2B Steve Sollmann continues to lead the BIG EAST in overall runs scored (45) and stolen bases (23), plus second in triples (4) and total bases (85), fourth in hits (59), sixth in batting (.396) and ninth in slugging pct. (.570) … sophomore 1B Matt Edwards leads BIG EAST players in RBI (44) while also ranking third in total bases (80), fourth in home runs (7), seventh in slugging (.593) and ninth in doubles (10, as doubles senior CF Kris Billmaier) … in addition to sophomore SS Matt Macri’s 12 doubles (5th) and four triples (2nd), freshman LF Brennan Grogan continues to be the BIG EAST triples leader (5) while rookie RF Cody Rizzo is eighth in runs scored (34) … ND’s three-man pitching rotation is unmatched among the BIG EAST stat leaders … sophomore RHP John Axford (8-0) has the most wins of any BIG EAST pitcher, also ranking third in ERA (2.29), strikeouts (53) and low opponent batting average (.216) and fourth in innings pitched (55.0) … his classmate Chris Niesel checks in at second in Ks (55), third in innings (59.1), fifth in ERA (2.88) and opponent batting (.228) … senior RHP Ryan Kalita ranks sixth among BIG EAST pitchers in opponent batting (.228) … in conference games only, Kalita owns the third-best ERA in the conference stats (1.67) while ranking first in wins (4-0) and second in opponent batting (.167) … Axford’s stats in three BIG EAST starts include a 2.25 ERA (5th), .148 opponent batting (1st) and a 3-0 record (4th) while Niesel also is 3-0 in league action with a 2.63 ERA (7th), 28 Ks (5th) ad 27.1 innings (8th) … ND leads the BIG EAST with a 2.39 staff ERA in conference games, with four of the top-seven individual ERA leaders as senior closer J.P. Gagne is 6th (2.25) … the Irish rank just 7th among BIG EAST teams in conference batting avg. (.297) and 3rd in fielding (.967) … ND has played just 12 BIG EAST games and thus has fewer stat leaders in conference action, as Edwards is still first in RBI (17), third in home runs (3) and seventh in slugging (.622) while Sollmann is third in RBI (15) and runs (16) and fourth in SBs (7) – with Grogan (4, first) and Macri (2, second) among the leaders for triples in conference games and Rizzo third in runs (16).