April 15, 1997

Notre Dame Sweeps Four-Game Series at Villanova

Softball Team Takes First Place in BIG EAST South Division

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame's softball team opened its lead in the BIG EAST South Division with a four-game sweep over Villanova Sat.-Sun., April 12-13. The Irish swept the series by 7-0, 5-0, 12-0 and 8-1 scores. Notre Dame traveled to Michigan Thurs., April 10 and lost a pair of one-run games 2-1 and 5-4. Northwestern and Valparaiso travel to Ivy Field this week before the Irish make their last road trip of the regular season at St. John's and Connecticut.

Irish Sweep Villanova Series: Notre Dame outscored Villanova 32-1 in four games this past weekend as the Irish improved to 10-2 in BIG EAST games. Five extra base hits by five different players keyed Notre Dame's 10-hit attack in the 7-0 win. Liz Perkins (Cupertino, Calif.) smacked a three-run homer and Katie Marten (Lisle, Ill.) hit her seventh triple of the season in the win.

Kelly Nichols (Vancouver, Wash.) pitched a two-hitter in Saturday's second game as she struck out five batters and walked none in the 5-0 win.

On Sunday, Meghan Murray poured in three hits and three RBI as the Irish pounded out 14 hits in the 12-0 win. Murray hit a two-run home run in the fourth game of the series, an 8-1 Irish win.

Michigan Takes Doubleheader: Notre Dame traveled to the site of its last two NCAA regional appearances and came away with two losses to Michigan at Alumni Field. The Wolverines edged the Irish in a pair of one-run games, 2-1 in eight innings in the first game and 5-4 in the second game. The Irish fell behind 1-0 after the first inning but tied the game thanks to an RBI single by Perkins. Michigan used a pair of walks and a RBI single to end the game in the bottom of the eighth.

The Irish took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the second game when Murray singled to score Marten. After Michigan took a 3-1 lead after two innings, Perkins blasted a bases-loaded double to the centerfield fence to give Notre Dame a 4-3 lead they would hold until the seventh inning when Michigan scored twice to win 5-4.

This Week for the Irish: Notre Dame welcomes Northwestern and Valparaiso to Ivy Field this week before hitting the road for their final road games of the regular season. Notre Dame and Northwestern played earlier in the season in the consolation bracket of the Sooner Classic in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead in that game before the Wildcats took a 3-2 lead heading into the sixth inning when Sarah Mathison (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) hit a two-run homer in a three-run inning for Notre Dame and a 5-3 win over Northwestern. The Wildcats come to Notre Dame on Tuesday with a 12-21 record after splitting a weekend doubleheader against Michigan.

After Thursday's doubleheader against Valparaiso, the Irish head to Jamaica, N.Y., for a BIG EAST cross divisional doubleheader at St. John's on Sat., April 19. Notre Dame then travels to Storrs, Conn., to face the BIG EAST North Division leading Huskies in a doubleheader. Connecticut stands at 6-0 in the BIG EAST and will face Providence this weekend in a four-game series and Villanova on Saturday before facing the Irish on Sunday.

The two teams played five times in 1996 with Notre Dame winning three of those games but with Connecticut's two wins coming in the BIG EAST championships as the Huskies claimed the title.

Head Coach Liz Miller: Liz Miller has compiled a 187-86 (.685) 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 728-228 (.762) record.

Marten, Murray Lead Irish, BIG EAST Batting: Senior co-captains Katie Marten and Meghan Murray continue to lead both Notre Dame and the BIG EAST in batting. A two-time All-American, Marten is batting a team high .392 while Murray is hitting .391. The 1996 BIG EAST player of the year, Murray is 23-44 in 12 BIG EAST games for a conference leading .523 batting average. Marten is one behind at 22-44 for a .500 average.

As a team Notre Dame is hitting .309 while the opposition is hitting .249. In BIG EAST games the Irish are hitting .404, well on pace to break Connecticut's season record of .346 which it set in 1993.

Mathison Earns BIG EAST Honors, Leads BIG EAST Freshmen: Freshman Sarah Mathison was named BIG EAST rookie of the week after she hit .476 against Michigan and Villanova. She was 10-21 with three runs scored, two RBI and a double. Mathison is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak, the second longest of the season for Notre Dame. Meghan Murray strung together an 11-game hitting streak from March 27-April 6. Mathison has hit safely in every game since April 4. She is 15-35 (.429) in those games with four runs, three RBI and two doubles.

Her .432 batting average in BIG EAST games is the eighth best in the conference and is the highest among BIG EAST freshmen. She is behind Murray, Marten, Connecticut's Stephanie Mason, Kara McMahon (Pasadena, Texas), Rutgers' Danielle Dolbow, Perkins and Rutgers' Karen Pelkey.

Bessolo Bears Down: Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.) pitched two complete-game shut outs this weekend against Villanova and threw a complete-game three-hitter against Michigan in an extra-inning loss to the ninth-ranked Wolverines. Since starting the season 3-5 with a 2.14 ERA, the 1996 BIG EAST co-rookie of the year has gone 7-3, allowing just nine earned runs in 51.2 innings pitched. Bessolo has the second lowest ERA in BIG EAST games with a 0.93 ERA, behind only teammate Kelly Nichols who has a 0.90 ERA in conference games. She is third in allowing the opposition to hit .192 behind Nichols' .155 and St. John's Liz Stanton's .183.

The Irish pitching staff, including Bessolo, Nichols and Joy Battersby leads all other BIG EAST pitching staffs in ERA (0.99) and opposing batting average (.198). The Irish staff has also allowed the fewest hits per game (4.75) and runs per game (1.5).

Perkins Pours It On: Senior Liz Perkins has powered the Irish offensively in the 16 games, accounting for more than one third of the teams runs. Since March 27, Perkins has batted 24-51 for a .470 batting average. She has raised her batting average from .270 at the beginning of the hot streak to its current average of .352.

She has had a part in 32 of the teams 96 runs in those games, driving in 20 runs and scoring 12 other runs. Perkins has hit nine doubles in that time, bringing her season total to a team-leading 12 doubles, well on pace to break the school record of 17. Her seven doubles in BIG EAST games is just two short of the conference single-season record of nine doubles in a BIG EAST season and with eight BIG EAST games left, that record is also within site for Perkins.

Marten Triples: While Perkins is on a record-setting pace for doubles, Katie Marten has already set Notre Dame and BIG EAST marks for triples. She has hit seven triples so far in 1997, breaking Andy Key's 1993 record of six in one season. Marten has also hit four three-baggers in BIG EAST games, topping the old mark of three in one season accomplished by 10 other hitters in BIG EAST history, including herself and Murray in 1996. Her 12 career triples are also the most Notre Dame history.

    Team                    Record  Pts.  LW
 1. Fresno State (15)       37-6    614    2
 2. Arizona (9)             33-4    607    1
 3. UCLA                    29-7    565    3   
 4. South Carolina * (1)    41-3    561    4   
 5. Iowa *                  29-5    518    6
 6. Washington              25-9    485    5
 7. Oklahoma                40-11   475    7
 8. Cal Poly SLO            31-8    408    9
 9. Michigan *              30-10-1 402    8
10. Arizona State *         28-8    377   11
11. Missouri *              34-8    367   12
12. Michigan State          36-9    363   10
13. Long Beach State        28-13-1 289   13
14. South Florida           34-9    282   15
15. Minnesota               25-9    255   14
16. Colorado State *        34-9    242   16
17. Northeast Louisiana     35-4    209   19
18. Oklahoma State          27-13   172   17
19. Florida State           31-14-1 155   18
20. Louisiana Tech          24-12   120   21
21. California              23-16   110   20
22. Utah                    23-10   101   22
23. Kansas *                26-12    95   25
24. Pacific                 25-12    71   24
25. Hawaii                  27-17-1  63   23
* indicates 1997 Notre Dame opponent.
1997 Big East Softball Standings
                 BIG EAST         Overall
South Division   W   L    Pct.    W   L   Pct
1.  Notre Dame  10   2   .833    22  18  .550
2.  Rutgers      6   4   .600    16  18  .471
3.  Villanova    4   8   .333    15  21  .417
4.  Seton Hall   2  10   .166    11  17  .393    
North Division
1.  Connecticut  6   0  1.000    18  14  .563
2.  Boston Coll. 8   4   .667    23   7  .767
3.  St. John's   4   7   .364     9  18  .333
4.  Providence   1   6   .143     9  16  .360

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