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    Fighting Irish

    Nov. 17, 1997

    Notre Dame Baseball Signs Nine High School Seniors

    Promising Group Expected to Fill Several Needs for Irish in 1999 season

    Player           Pos.   Ht.   Wt. Bats   Hometown           Previous School    
    Matt Buchmeier   RHP    6-1   170        Greenwood, IN      Roncalli HS
    Andy Bushey      IF (3B)6-0   185   L    Boardman, OH       Cardinal Mooney HS
    J.P. Drevline    C      5-11  195   S    Arlington Hts., IL John Hersey HS
    Drew Duff        RHP    5-11  160        Sevierville, TN    Sevier County HS
    Ed Golom         IF     5-9   160   R    Lockport, IL       Providence Catholic HS
    Paul O'Toole     C      6-1   195   L    Lakewood, OH       St. Ignatius HS
    Jason Rodda      RHP    5-11  175        Lakeland, FL       George Jenkins HS
    Steve Stanley    OF     5-7   140   L    Columbus, OH       Worthington Christian HS
    Matt Strickroth  1B/OF  6-5   225   R    Mission Viejo, CA  Santa Margarita HS  

    The University of Notre Dame baseball team has signed nine high school seniors to national letters of intent, head coach Paul Mainieri announced today.

    The signees include righthanded pitchers Matt Buchmeier (Greenwood, Ind.), Drew Duff (Sevierville, Tenn.) and Jason Rodda (Lakeland, Fla.), catchers J.P Drevline (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Paul O'Toole (Lakewood, Ohio), infielders Andy Bushey (Boardman, Ohio) and Ed Golom (Lockport, Ill.), outfielder Steve Stanley (Columbus, Ohio) and infielder/outfielder Matt Strickroth (Mission Viejo, Calif.).

    "This was an important recruiting class because we had to replace the five seniors who will be graduating next May, in addition to losing two of last year's recruits to the professional draft," said fourth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri. "You also always run the possibility of losing some of your juniors to the pro draft, so the fact that we were able to sign a class of this quality and quantity is very significant.

    "The goals we sought in signing this class were maintaining a strong pitching staff, adding two quality catchers and providing some offensive firepower. We definitely reached those goals and are very excited to have these players become members of the Notre Dame baseball program."

    Six of the nine signees are natives of Indiana, Illinois or Ohio, with the other three hailing from California, Florida and Tennessee.

    The Notre Dame baseball team is coming off a 41-19 season in which it posted the best regular-season record (15-6) in BIG EAST Conference play. The Irish baseball program has posted nine straight 40-plus win seasons while the program's .728 winning percentage during the 1990s (356-133) ranks seventh in Division I baseball.

    Buchmeier is known for a fastball that can touch 90 miles per hour and his ability to consistently throw strikes. The 6-1, 170-pound righthander spent the summer of 1997 as a member of the Indiana Bulls state all-star team and earned a spot on the all-tournament team at the 1997 National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series. His eight-game statistics with the Bulls included a 6-1 record, 1.28 ERA, 45 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 44 innings. As a first team all-city performer, he helped Roncalli High School to a 23-5 season in the spring of 1997 while posting a 5-3 record, 1.98 ERA, 67 K's and 35 walks in 53 innings.

    Bushey, known for his natural left-handed swing and ability to hit to all fields, played summer-league ball with current Irish freshman infielder Ben Cooke on the Youngstown Astro Falcons. He hit .444 while leading the Astro Falcons to a 45-7 record in the summer of '97. In the summer of '96, the 6-0, 185-pound Bushey won the class B batting title after batting .474 with only three strikeouts in 98 at-bats. As a junior at Cardinal Mooney High School, he was named all-conference and all-tri-county after hitting a conference-best .473 and leading his team to the district title.

    The 5-11, 195-pound Drevline is expected to contend for time behind the plate due to his strong all-around ability, ability to hit from both sides of the plate and leadership skills. A former Norwood Blues teammate of current Irish freshman leftfielder Alec Porzel, Drevline most recently hit .459 on the Hersey high school summer league and .329 with the Rollins Meadows Royals semi-pro team. He also played in the first annual Chicago-land Top Prospect Game, held at Comiskey Park in the summer of '97.

    Duff is noted for his competitiveness, a tough curveball and a fastball that has touched 91 miles per hour. A four-year starting shortstop at Sevier County High School, the 5-11, 160-pound Duff posted a 2.80 ERA, 28 strikeouts and just four walks in 25 innings last spring. He was selected to pitch for the Tennessee state team in the 1997 College Baseball Association World Series. He also was invited to the prestigious Team One Showcase and Area Code Eastern Showcase in the summer of 1997. During his various fall tournaments, Duff compiled an 0.66 ERA, 36 strikeouts and eight walks in 21 innings.

    Golom attracted the Irish coaches due to his scrappy style, versatility and aggressiveness at the plate. The 5-9, 160-pound righthander also participated in the Team One Showcase. He was named all-conference and honorable mention all-area at Providence Catholic High School after batting .420.

    O'Toole's versatility, hitting ability and strong throwing arm could help him make significant contributions for the Irish in '98. A 6-1, 195-pound left-handed hitter, O'Toole was a teammate of Cooke's at Cleveland's St. Ignatius High School while also teaming with fellow Irish signee Steve Stanley on the Mainstreet Muffins summer team. His 1997 summer highlights included leading the Mainstreet Muffins to the Connie Mack state championship and earning a spot in the Team One Showcase. In the spring of 1997, he was the only junior on the USA Today honorable mention list for the state of Ohio and earned team and county MVP honors after leading his team to a third-place finish in the state. O'Toole hit a school record 15 doubles as a junior while striking out just four times in 88 at-bats.

    The 5-11, 175-pound Rodda, whose high school pitching coach is former major leaguer Joe Niekro, is known for his ability to consistently throw four pitches for strikes, as evidenced by his combined 38-1 career record in high school and summer-league play. A second team all-state pitcher as a junior, Rodda led George Jenkins High School to the state semi-finals in the spring of 1997 after going 11-0 with 86 strikeouts, 19 walks and 47 hits allowed in 73 innings. His 1997 summer statistics included a 9-1 record, 0.89 ERA, 69 K's. 16 BB's and 34 hits allowed in 63 innings. In 52 combined high school and summer games, Rodda has totaled an 0.99 ERA, 271 K's, 72 BB's and 147 hits allowed in 247 innings. He also was invited to the Team One Showcase

    Stanley, another Team One participant, should bring excellent speed and all-around athleticism to the Irish program as a prospective centerfielder. As a sophomore at Worthington Christian High School, Stanley led the Columbus area with a .595 batting average and 41-of-44 stolen bases en route to becoming the only sophomore to be named first team all-state. He repeated as a first team all-state selection as a junior, after hitting .489 and being successful on 37-of-38 stolen base attempts.

    The 6-5, 225-pound Strickroth could prove to be the surprise member of the signing class. A talented two-sport athlete who selected Notre Dame over college football scholarship offers, Strickroth could add power at the plate for the Irish. As a junior at Santa Margarita High School, he hit .398 with six home runs and 28 RBI in 88 at-bats, after hitting ,329 with five home runs and 23 RBI as a sophomore. He has spent the past two fall seasons playing in wood bat leagues and earned all-league honors as a first baseman in the spring of 1997. Strickroth captain's the Santa Margarita football team and is a two-way starting tackle on a team that is ranked fifth in USA Today's west region rankings. As a junior, he was an all-league defensive tackle on Santa Margarita's 13-1 CIF state championship team.

    Additional Buchmeier Notes: Saw his no-hitter broken up with one out in the ninth inning of NABF World Series championship game before finishing with two-hit complete game in 14-2 victory ... threw a no-hitter as a sophomore in 1-0 win over Manual Redskins ... his junior-year honors included first team all-city and second team all-Indianapolis ... also a member of the varsity cross country team as a senior ... three-year honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society

    Mainieri on Buchmeier: "Matt is a key recruit for us. He is one of the top pitchers in the Midwest and we are very excited to have him in the program. Matt really developed over this past summer as his fastball reached as high as 90 mph. He has a loose arm, which makes me feel he will improve his velocity as he gets stronger.. We expect Matt to contribute on the mound as a freshman because he throws strikes and knows how to pitch. The best is yet to come for Matt Buchmeier."

    Buchmeier on his Decision: "I was the most comfortable at Notre Dame, in terms of the people and the quality of the school. I've attended Catholic school for the last 12 years and it's something that I enjoy. Notre Dame has such a great reputation and it will be exciting to be a student-athlete there."

    Additional Bushey Notes: Led Cardinal Mooney to three conference titles and district title as a sophomore and junior ... first team all-conference as a sophomore, after hitting .411 ... second team all-conference as a freshman, after hitting team-best .419 ... also lettered in football and basketball ... carries a 4.23 cumulative GPA ... a four-year honor student and member of National Honor Society

    Mainieri on Bushey: "Andy will bring a tremendous work ethic to Notre Dame. He comes from a very strong summer team and has continued to improve throughout his high school career. Andy has a natural left-handed swing and has proven he has the ability to hit to all fields. We are expecting great things from Andy."

    Bushey on his Decision: "There was no way I could pass up the opportunity to attend Notre Dame. I felt that coach Mainieri, his staff and all the players showed a sincere interest in me being part of their program. The academic reputation, campus environment and social life are everything I desire in a college. The Notre Dame program is a great fit for me."

    Additional Drevline Notes: Batted .345 in Hersey summer league during 1996, after hitting .403 during the summer of '95 ... tried out for 1997 Area Code Games ... four-time honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society.

    Mainieri on Drevline: "J.P. has the athletic ability and work ethic to be another outstanding Irish player from the Chicago Area. He has outstanding baseball skills, is an excellent catcher, hits well from both sides of the plate and has outstanding leadership qualities. J.P. posses very similar qualities to Bob Lisanti, former Irish catcher form the Chicago Area. I expect J.P. to come in and compete behind the plate right away."

    Drevline on his Decision: "Academics were important to me and Notre Dame fit those expectations. They also seem to have a commitment to the players--it seemed like a big family where everybody does everything possible to help you succeed. It will be nice for my family to see me play a lot when I'm at Notre Dame.

    Additional Duff Notes: Has been named to all-star team for every team he has played on since 1985 ... his offensive stats in the spring of 1997 included a team-best .450 batting avg., four home runs and 7-of-7 stolen bases in 19 games ... owns a 3.3 cumulative GPA.

    Mainieri on Duff: "Drew will make a large impact because he is a tremendous competitor on the mound. He has a fastball that will touch 91 mph and an outstanding curveball. Drew is the most intense and competitive pitchers I have ever recruited. He takes charge of the game and attacks the hitters and that's what I like to see out of our pitchers. Drew has a chance to be a great pitcher at Notre Dame.

    Duff on his Decision: "My decision was pretty easy because I grew up always wanting to go to Notre Dame and my dad is a real big Notre Dame fan. It's just a great educational opportunity. I'm really looking forward to working with all the coaches there and I loved the overall atmosphere surrounding the school and the baseball program."

    Additional Golom Notes: Four-year honor student with a 3.7 cumulative GPA ... named one of 10 top hitters in area according to Herald News ... attended Baseball Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

    Mainieri on Golom: "Ed is a real gamer who loves to play. Ed comes from a strong high school program where he has learned to play the game the right way. He is a scrappy player who will give 100% at all times. He'll dive for every ball, hustle on every hit and battle to help his team win. I really like his versatility and aggressiveness at the plate."

    Golom on his Decision: "My basic criteria was to choose a good Division I program with good academics and Notre Dame fit that best. I loved my visit and the campus was great. I also went to some classes and liked what them--the whole Notre Dame atmosphere was great."

    Additional O'Toole Notes: Caught every game in spring of 1997 while leading team to third-place finish in state tournament ... played every game in spring of 1996 as a catcher and outfielder, throwing out 59% of attempted basestealers (17-of-29) while striking out just five times in 77 at-bats, leading team in walks (18) and ranking second in RBI (24) ... second baseman and catcher on sixth-place team at 1996 CABA World Series ... member of the National Honor Society.

    Mainieri on O'Toole: "Paul will be one of our biggest contributors as a freshman. He is very versatile and will compete both behind the plate and in the outfield. Paul can really hit and, as a catcher, has a very strong throwing arm --he's simply an outstanding all-around player who has a very bright future at Notre Dame."

    O'Toole on his Decision: "It was a bonus that Notre Dame was close to home. I also was attracted to the tradition of Notre Dame and to the fact that coming out of there with a Notre Dame diploma can make you set for life. I'm also Irish and basically already am very excited."

    Additional Rodda Notes: Threw five complete game victories while helping team claim 1996 American Legion state title ... his stats during that '96 summer season included a 10-0 record, 1.08 ERA, 62 K's, 14 BB's and 41 hits allowed in 65 innings ... threw no-hitter at state American Legion tournament ... led his USA Junior Olympic team to the ERA title in Ft. Meyers, Fla. in 1996 ... member of student council and the National Honor Society.

    Mainieri on Rodda: "Jason is a winner. Anytime you get a pitcher who is 38-1 in his career you know he is a real winner. He throws four quality pitches for strikes, knows how to set up hitters and comes from a baseball area where he has competed against some top-level opposition. Jason has an outstanding breaking ball which will give him an opportunity to compete as a freshman at Notre Dame."

    Rodda on his Decision: "I knew that Notre Dame was an excellent school for academics and athletics. I had a really good visit and liked the way how everyone was so receptive. I also have a lot of family in the South bend and Chicago area so that will help with being so far away from home. The weather and distance were not going to be factors in my decision--I just wanted to choose school with the best academics and baseball program."

    Additional Stanley Notes: Helped team take second place at 19997 NABF World Series in Evansville, Ind. ... also served as starting point guard on Worthington basketball team that advanced the 1997 regional semifinals ... currently serving as student body president ... member of the National Honor Society

    Mainieri on Stanley: "The thing that made Steve so attractive to us is the fact he has excellent speed and is a good all-around athlete who can play centerfield. His baseball ability and approach to the game reminds us of former Irish centerfielder Scott Sollmann. Steve is a serious base stealing threat and that excites me. With his ability to run, Steve has a chance to have an effect on every game he plays in at Notre Dame."

    Stanley on his Decision: "My number one reason was how much I liked coach Mainieri and the rest of his staff. I got along with them really well. It really seemed like they wanted me to go there and they made me feel special for the three days I was there. I like the fact that it is a smaller campus and that most of the students live in the dorms. Everything just seemed to be first class."

    Additional Strickroth Notes: Starting cleanup hitting since his sophomore year ... has played primarily first base and the outfield ... an honor roll student and member of the California Scholarship Federation .. .helped 1997 football team earn #1 ranking in CIF and #2 in Orange County.

    Mainieri on Strickroth: "Matt is the sleeper of the group. He is a big strong athlete with a lot of power at the plate and will compete at first base and in the outfield. Matt could step in and bat in the middle of the line-up as a freshman. As Matt continues to get stronger and develop as a hitter he will be a very exciting player to watch. He had to make a decision whether to play baseball or football in college and I am excited he chose to attend Notre Dame."

    Strickroth on his Decision: "My primary reason for choosing Notre Dame was the combination of a great baseball program and the quality education that Notre Dame offers. I chose to play baseball in college rather than football because baseball is the sport that I most enjoy and I feel that I have a better future in baseball. Overall, I really like the players and coaches at Notre Dame and can't wait to get there."

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