April 1, 1997
Irish Travel to Purdue
Open Home Season With Big East Games Against Boston College and Providence
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame's softball team opened its second season of competition in the BIG EAST Conference with a four-game series at South Division opponent Seton Hall and came away with a 4-0 BIG EAST record. The Irish travel to Purdue for a doubleheader on Thursday, April 3. Notre Dame opens its 1997 home schedule with a BIG EAST doubleheader on Friday, April 4 at 4:00 p.m.
Irish Sweep Seton Hall Series: Notre Dame used 49 hits in 25 innings against Seton Hall to win four games in South Orange, N.J. On Thursday, March 27, the first game of the series saw the two teams battle scoreless through three innings before the Irish got on the board first with a run in the fourth inning. The Irish then exploded for six runs in the fifth inning to build a 7-0 lead. 1996 BIG EAST player of the year Meghan Murray (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Kris McCleary (Westerville, Ohio) each smacked two-run singles in the fifth. The Pirates came back in the bottom of the fifth for their first hit of the game against Irish pitcher Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.), who allowed Seton Hall just two hits in the 7-1 win.
Notre Dame kept the bats going in the second game as the Irish scored seven runs in the first three innings and added five in the fifth for a 12-1 win. Liz Perkins (Cupertino, Calif.) drove in four runs as she went 3-4 with a double. Two-time All-American Katie Marten (Lisle, Ill.) was 3-3 with two runs and two RBI.
In the first game on Saturday, Notre Dame opened up a 5-0 lead after two innings for a 9-1 win. Freshman Lisa Tully (Garden Grove, Calif.) smacked a double and scored two runs while Murray had three hits. Kelly Nichols (Vancouver, Wash.) pitched her second consecutive complete game for the Irish.
The final game of the series was much more closely contested as Seton Hall jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first inning before Marten powered Notre Dame to six runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings for a 6-2 win. She smacked her fourth triple of the season as she went 4-4 with two RBI and a run. Freshman Sarah Mathison (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) was 3-4 with a double and a home run.
Indiana Rained Out: Notre Dame and Indiana were scheduled to play a doubleheader on Tues., March 25 but rain forced the two teams to postpone the games. The games will be rescheduled for a later date.
This Week for the Irish: Notre Dame travels to Purdue on Thurs., April 3 for a 2:00 p.m. doubleheader in West Lafayette, Ind. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in softball. The Irish and Boilermakers were scheduled to play a doubleheader in 1996 but rain cancelled the games and they were not able to be rescheduled. Purdue brings a 20-15 record into the contest after dropping a three-game series to Iowa this past weekend.
On Fri., April 4, Boston College visits Ivy Field in the 1997 home opener for the Irish in a BIG EAST cross divisional match-up. The Eagles bring two-time BIG EAST pitcher of the week freshman Mary Dietz into the contest. Boston College has a 13-3 record and was scheduled to play Providence this week in BIG EAST games before coming to Notre Dame, who won a doubleheader at Boston College in 1996 in the only meeting between the two schools.
Providence comes to Notre Dame on Sun., April 6 for another cross division doubleheader. The Irish defeated the Lady Friars three times in 1996, the last game being a 3-2 win at the BIG EAST championships. Providence went 1-2 against St. John's in its first BIG EAST games of the year before the games with Boston College.
Head Coach Liz Miller: Liz Miller has compiled a 181-80 (.693) 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 led 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 722-222 (.765) record.
Marten Continues Record-Setting Season: Notre Dame's all-time career batting average leader at .368 heading into the season, senior co-captain and two-time All-American Katie Marten continues her torrid offensive output with her .425 batting average. She leads the team with a .436 batting average with runners in scoring position and 12 RBI. The two-time GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American has failed to get at least one hit in just seven of Notre Dame's 28 games and has 11 multiple-hit games. Her four triples in 1997 already matches her 1996 total and is two short of the school record.
Marten was named BIG EAST player of the week for her performance against Seton Hall. She is the first Notre Dame player to earn the honor in 1997.
Mathison Heats Up: After starting her collegiate career batting 2-18, freshman Sarah Mathison has since hit 22-59 for a .373 batting average. She is fourth on the team with her .312 season batting average but is second on the team in slugging percentage (.494), total bases (34) and walks (8). She has hit a team-leading three homers on the season and has five doubles. Mathison has given the Irish some impressive results defensively both at shortstop and rightfield.
Bessolo, Nichols Lead Irish Staff: Angela Bessolo and Kelly Nichols have led the Notre Dame pitching staff in 1997. Bessolo has pitched a team-high 69.1 innings so far in 1997 and has a team-leading 1.51 ERA with an 8-5 record. The 1996 BIG EAST co-rookie of the year has struckout an average of 5.5 batters per seven innings and has pitched seven complete games. In her first weekend of BIG EAST play, Bessolo pitched eight innings and allowed the Pirates no earned runs as she went 1-0.
Junior Kelly Nichols, who has led the NCAA in saves in each of her first two years at Notre Dame with eight each season, threw two complete games this weekend against Seton Hall. She has compiled a 5-2 record this season with two saves. With 18 career saves, Nichols is just two short of the NCAA career saves record of 19 by Cal Poly Pomona's Lori Thompson from 1987-89.
Irish at Ivy Field: Notre Dame's BIG EAST doubleheader against Boston College this week will be the home opener for the Irish at Ivy Field. Notre Dame is 6-2 in home-opening games at Ivy Field and have won the last four since 1993. The Irish have an all-time record of 105-35-2 record at home and won a record 24 games at Ivy Field in 1996 with a 24-2 record.
Murray, Mathison Go Back-to-Back: With the Irish clinging to a 4-2 lead in the fourth game of the series against Seton Hall, Meghan Murray and Sarah Mathison hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to give Notre Dame a 6-2 lead. For Murray, it was the 10th home run of her career, second on Notre Dame's all-time list.
1997 BIG EAST Softball Standings
BIG EAST Overall
South Division W L Pct. W L Pct
1. Notre Dame 4 0 1.000 16 12 .571
2. Villanova 2 2 .500 10 12 .455
3. Rutgers 1 1 .500 6 8 .429
4. Seton Hall 1 5 .166 7 9 .438
1. St. John's 2 1 .667 6 5 .545
2. Providence 1 2 .333 8 9 .471
3. Boston College 0 0 .000 13 3 .813
4. Connecticut 0 0 .000 8 11 .421