Dec. 21, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — For the past two seasons as teammates on the University of Notre Dame softball team, senior infielder Carly Piccinich (Wyckoff, New Jersey/Immaculate Heart Academy) and junior outfielder Karley Wester (Huntington Beach, California/Edison) shared a similar slap hitting style and the same first name, all while developing equally strong leadership qualities. That growth as leaders will pay dividends for both players during the upcoming Irish season, as head coach Deanna Gumpf has announced Piccinich and Wester as Notre Dame team captains for the 2016 campaign as determined by a team-wide voting process.
Piccinich and Wester are the 54th and 55th different captains in Notre Dame’s 28-year history as a varsity program, including the 15th different dual captain pairing for Irish softball. Wester is the eighth non-senior (seventh junior) to be tabbed as a Notre Dame team captain, and the first such election since 2010.
The tandem is just the second captaincy duo in the annals of Irish softball to share the same first name, joining co-captains Kelly Rowe and Kelly Nichols in 1998 as Notre Dame leaders with matching first names.
“Carly and Karley are great compliments to each other, and our team votes and explains why they made their votes,” Gumpf said. “They picked each player for different reasons and it fit, for this team it really fits. We have an awesome senior class that does a great job as leaders, all five of them, and Carly Piccinich has led the way there. She is someone they have depended on to do the right thing and be a great team player and teammate. Karley Wester being voted by her team speaks volumes of who she is on this team. Not only being just a junior, it plays to the fact that she has been leading throughout her career. Her teammates see that in her and appreciate that from her.
“I think the team made great choices and am very proud of them electing these captains, they really cover the entire spirit of our team,” Gumpf said.
Piccinich enters her senior campaign with 134 games played at Notre Dame, the second most on the current Irish roster, and 11 starts. She made a career-high seven starts during the 2015 season while adding a personal-best nine hits. Piccinich chipped in five stolen bases and 18 runs in 45 contests as a junior, becoming the 59th player in school history to reach the 50-run plateau for her career.
Piccinich is one of 11 New Jersey natives to suit up in a varsity Notre Dame softball contest, and is just the fourth captain in team history to hail from the Garden State (Mia Faust, 1989; Rowe, 1998; Alexa Maldonado, 2012). She is also a current participant in Notre Dame’s cutting edge Rosenthal Leadership Academy.
A marketing major in the nationally renowned Mendoza College of Business, Piccinich was tabbed as a BIG EAST Conference Academic All-Star in 2013 and was named to the 2014-15 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Academic Honor Roll.
“Being voted captain for ND softball is a great honor and truly a dream come true,” Piccinich said. “I’m humbled to have teammates and coaches who believe in me and also push me to be the best player and teammate possible daily. I would like to thank my family for their unwavering support throughout my softball career, and the University of Notre Dame for shaping me into a person that always strives for excellence while putting others before myself. I look forward to leading this team to somewhere it’s never been before this season.”
Wester assumes a captaincy role after arguably the best two-year stretch to open a career in Notre Dame softball history, batting a program best .441 with 165 hits, 60 RBI, 52 stolen bases and 115 runs scored in her first 111 games (110 starts). She led the ACC in batting average in each of her first two seasons, most recently batting .429 while tying Notre Dame single-season records for hits (84) and runs scored (65) as a sophomore in 2015.
A 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America second team selection, Wester finished as a top three finalist for that season’s inaugural NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award and was tabbed the ACC Softball Freshman of the Year. She has also been named to the NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region and all-ACC first teams during each of her first two collegiate campaigns.
Wester is the 18th captain out of 46 total California residents that have played in at least one varsity game for the Notre Dame softball program, and is the ninth native of the Golden State to be named an Irish captain since 2007. She will become the third sitting Notre Dame softball captain to play alongside a younger sister (freshman Ali Wester), joining 2010 tri-captain Christine Lux (’10) and her sister Kathryn Lux (’13), and 2000-01 captain Jen Sharron (’01) and her sister Jessica Sharron (’03).
An accountancy major in the Mendoza College of Business, Wester is a member of the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as an officer representing the IrishOn3 initiative, and like Piccinich is enrolled in the Rosenthal Leadership Academy.
“I am honored to be named a captain and would like to thank my teammates for entrusting me to be in such a position,” Wester said. “I am looking forward to the season, as is the rest of the team, and seeing what this squad is capable of.”
Piccinich, Wester, and the rest of the Notre Dame softball team will kick off the 2016 season at the Kajikawa Classic on Feb. 12-14 in Tempe, Arizona. It is the first time that the Irish have taken part in the historic Arizona State University tournament since 2010.
“Carly and Karley’s personalities are so great to be the leaders of this team because they are so consistent,” Gumpf said. “They have been consistent since they both stepped on this campus. Their focus has always been the team and they will do anything that they can to make this the best team we have ever had. I feel confident in them and their determination to make this team special.”
For additional statistical and general program information, the 2016 Notre Dame softball media supplement is now available for viewing 2016 Softball Media Supplement .
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.