Mar. 6, 1997
Notre Dame Heads to Oklahoma City for Sooner Classic at Hall of Fame Stadium
Irish to Face Baylor, Kansas, Stephen F. Austin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame's softball team contiued its early season tournaments against some of the toughest compeition in the country this past weekend at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.. where the Irish finish with a 1-4 record. Notre Dame travels to the Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the Sooner Classic this weekend from March 7-9.
Sonner Classic Preview:
Notre Dame heads to the Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for the Sooner Classic this weekend. The seven-team field consists of two pools with the Irish scheduled to face Baylor and Kansas on Friday and Stephen F. Austin on Saturday in first ever meetings between Notre Dame and each of the three teams in the pool. Oklahoma, Northwestern and Wichita State comprise the other pool. The teams will then be seeded into a double elimination draw with a champion to be determined on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
NFCA Leadoff Classic Review:
The Irish travel to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., this past weekend and competed against the talented field. The Irish opened the rain-delayed tournament Friday night at 10:00 p.m. against 1996 World Series participant and 13th-ranked Southwestern Louisiana. In game that ended after 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the Irish withstood a Lady Cajun rally in the bottom of the seventh to win a 4-2 extra-inning game in nine innings.
The Irish put runs on the board in the second and third innings to build a 2-0 lead. Meghan Murray (Minnetonka, Minn.) singled and scored on a Liz Perkins' (Cupertino, Calif.) double in the second and Katie Marten (Lisle, Ill.) doubled and scored on a Jenn Giampaolo (San Marino, Calif.) single in the third.
Southwestern Louisiana then scored in the bottom of fifth and then added another run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings. Neither team scored in the eighth with the tiebreaker runner placed on second, sending the contest into the ninth as Kara McMahon (Pasadena, Texas) scored on a Murray sacrifice fly. Perkins then sealed the won with a solo homer to give the Irish the 4-2 lead.
On Saturday, Notre Dame would drop two games in opposite fashion. Against Texas A&M, the Irish could manage just five hits as the Aggies scored in the bottom of the seventh for a 1-0 win. Notre Dame then allowed seven unearned runs in a 8-0 five-inning loss to Illinois State.
Notre Dame continued its scoring woes on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to Massachusetts as the Irish bats produced just two hits. In their final game of the tournament, the Irish faced sixth-ranked South Carolina and jumped out a 2-0 lead in the top of the third when Kelly Rowe (Edison, N.J.) scored on a wild pitch and McMahon singled to score Marten. South Carolina rallied to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third and then handed the Irish their third one-run loss in four games as the Lady Gamecocks scored in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 win.
Head Coach Liz Miller:
Liz Miller has compiled a 167-75 (.690) record in her four-plus seasons at Notre Dame since 1993. Miller led the Irish to a school-record 48 wins in 1996 and to their third consecutive NCAA appearance. She was named the 1996 BIG EAST coach of the year in her first year in the conference as she lead Notre Dame to a 19-1 record and the BIG EAST South Division title. Miller won her 700th-career game on April 27, 1996, becoming one of only five collegiate softball coaches to have won 700 career games. Miller began her coaching career at Lake Michigan Community College where she posted a 541-142 (.792). She ranks fifth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association career-win standings with a 708-217 (.765) record.
Marten Leads Irish:
Notre Dame's all-time career batting average leader at .368 heading into the season, Katie Marten leads the team with a .345 batting average and a .517 slugging percentage. Three of her 10 hits have been for extra bases, including a double and two triples, already half of the 1996 total of four triples. Marten has also scored a team-leading three runs.
Irish Vs. Ranked Teams:
Of Notre Dame's nine games so far in 1997, the Irish have played four ranked teams and have a 1-3 record against these teams. All three of the losses, Arizona State, Iowa and South Carolina, have come against top-10 teams with the Iowa and South Carolina games being one-run losses. The Iowa loss was a 10-inning game and South Carolina scored in the bottom of the seventh for the win. The Irish defeated 13th-ranked Southwestern Louisiana 4-2 in nine innings.
Notre Dame advanced to its third straight NCAA championships a year ago, earning its first-ever at-large bid into the 48-team field. It was a quick trip into the post-season for the Irish who dropped consecutive games to South Carolina and Central Michigan and were eliminated, ending the season with a school record 48 wins. Notre Dame went 19-1 in the BIG EAST regular season, capturing the BIG EAST South Division title. Connecticut upended the Irish at the BIG EAST championships in Chestnut Hill, Mass., as the Huskies used a classic 1-0 win in the deciding game seven of the championships to win the title and the BIG EAST Conference's automatic bid into the NCAA championships.
Irish, Huskies Tapped As Preseason BIG EAST Favorites:
In a vote of the conference coaches, Notre Dame has been unanimously selected as the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST South Division. Rutgers was picked to finish second with Villanova third and Seton Hall fourth in the South Division. Connecticut was selected first in the North Division followed by Boston College, Providence and St. John's. The teams will play a 20-game league schedule, playing divisional opponents four times each and non-divisional opponents twice. The top two teams from each division advance to the BIG EAST championships May 3-4 at Connecticut.
Notre Dame Earns Academic Honors:
The 1996 Notre Dame softball team was named one of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association top-10 all-academic teams, marking the sixth consecutive year the Irish have received this honor. Notre Dame was the only team honored as one of the NFCA all-academic teams to be ranked in the final USA Today/NSCA Top 25 and participate in the 48-team NCAA championship.
In addition to the team honors, four Notre Dame players were recognized for their academic and athletic achievements and were named on the 1996 GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America softball team. Katie Marten, Joy Battersby (Morris, Ill.) and Meghan Murray were second-team Academic All-Americans and Jenna Knudson, who graduated in May, was a third-team selection. Notre Dame led the Academic All-America teams with four players and joined Jacksonville State and Southwestern Louisiana (two each) as the only schools that placed more than one player on the three teams.
Irish in Extra-Inning Games:
A third of Notre Dame's games have gone into extra innings so far in 1997 with Irish posting a 1-2 record in those games. The three games so far in 1997 are just two short of the 1996 season total of five games. The most in any season for Notre Dame is 11 in 1992.
1997 Notre Dame Captains:
USA Today/NFCA Top 25
Seniors Katie Marten and Meghan Murray will serve as captains of the 1997 Notre Dame softball team. Marten is a two-time NFCA All-American as designated player in addition to her GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. Marten is a three-year starter for Miller and has stolen the most bases in Notre Dame history. She has a career .368 batting average, the highest in school history.
Murray was named the 1996 BIG EAST player of the year after batting .507 in BIG EAST games. She became the first Notre Dame batter in school history to hit over .400 in a season with a .402 average in 1996. The Academic All-American was also the team's MVP last year as she started every game of the year.
March 2, 1997
Team Record Pts. LW
1. Arizona 21-0 625 1
2. Fresno State 10-1 587 2
3. UCLA 20-4 576 3
4. South Carolina * 11-2 546 6
5. Washington 16-5 516 4
6. Long Beach State 17-5 445 7
7. Michigan * 9-3-1 443 5
8. Arizona State * 11-3 364 15
9. Iowa * 5-1 355 9
10. Minnesota 19-5 323 11
11. South Florida 14-2 318 12
12. California 10-7 305 10
13. Cal Poly SLO 18-2 301 19
14. Oklahoma State 12-6 282 8
15. Oklahoma 15-8 268 17
16. Missouri * 11-2 260 20
17. Florida State 13-6 226 16
18. Cal State Northridge 7-4-2 178 14
19. Southwestern Louisiana * 7-6 157 13
20. Louisiana Tech 13-7 144 NR
21. Utah 9-5 107 NR
22. Pacific 9-4 94 NR
23. UNLV 7-6 84 23
24. Baylor * 13-6 79 22
25. Michigan State 9-2 75 NR
* indicates 1997 Notre Dame opponent.
1997 BIG EAST Softball Preseason Poll
1996 BIG EAST
South Division (votes) Pts W L Pct
1. Notre Dame (7) 28 19 1 .950
2. Rutgers 20 10 10 .500
3. Villanova (1) 18 10 8 .555
4. Seton Hall 10 4 14 .222
North Division (votes)
1. Connecticut (7) 28 16 4 .800
2. Boston College (1) 22 9 11 .450
3. Providence 16 9 11 .450
4. St. John's 10 1 19 .050