April 23, 1997
Notre Dame, Rutgers to Battle for Big East South Division Title
Irish Sweep Northwestern, St. John's, Split With Connecticut in 6-1 Week
Notre Dame, Ind. -- Notre Dame's softball team looks to clinch its second-consecutive BIG EAST South Division title this weekend as second place Rutgers travels to Ivy Field for a four-game series. The Irish upped their conference record to 13-3 this weekend after sweeping a doubleheader at St. John's and splitting a doubleheader at Connecticut.
Irish Go 3-1 in BIG EAST Play: Notre Dame lost its first-ever BIG EAST regular season road game this weekend in a 3-2 loss at Connecticut. The Irish committed four errors in allowing the Huskies two unearned runs. In the second game of the doubleheader, Notre Dame pounded out 12 hits against three Connecticut pitchers to score six earned runs.
Against St. John's, Notre Dame won a pair of games by 11-1 and 7-0 scores. Joy Battersby (Morris, Ill.) pitched a complete-game shutout in the second game as she allowed the Red Storm just four hits. Kris McCleary (Westerville, Ohio) powered the Irish in the first game as she went 2-3 with three RBI and two runs with a home run and a double.
Notre Dame Wins Three Over Northwestern, Valparaiso: Before heading east, Notre Dame played a doubleheader against Northwestern at Ivy Field and won a pair of one-run games. McCleary drove in both of Notre Dame's runs in the first game, a 2-1 Irish win. Her second-inning double scored Liz Perkins (Cupertino, Calif.) and Meghan Murray (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.) pitched a complete-game in the win.
Murray rallied Notre Dame from a 6-4 deficit with a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh to score two runs and send the game into extra innings where Kelly Rowe (Edison, N.J.) singled with two outs in the eighth to send home Tara King (Overland Park, Kan.) for the winning run in the 7-6 win.
Notre Dame needed three runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull out a 3-1 win over Valparaiso. The Crusaders led 1-0 heading into the seventh but Amy Laboe (Monroe, Mich.) hit a two-run single to clinch the win.
This Week for the Irish: Notre Dame and Rutgers will battle for the BIG EAST South Division title this weekend with doubleheaders on Sat., April 26 at 12:00 p.m. and Sun., April 27 at 11:00 a.m. Rutgers will bring a 6-6 BIG EAST record into the match-up while the Irish are 13-3 in conference games. The Irish swept the four-game series from the Scarlet Knights in 1996, the only meetings between the two schools.
Former Midwestern Collegiate Conference foe Butler will travel to Ivy Field on Wed., April 23 for a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader. The Bulldogs are 16-22 and have lost six consecutive games since a 1-0 win over Purdue. Butler has beaten Notre Dame twice in the 20 meetings between the two schools.
Head Coach Liz Miller: Liz Miller has compiled a 193-87 (.689) 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 734-229 (.762) record.
Murray Continues to Bash BIG EAST Pitching: Senior Meghan Murray continues to lead both Notre Dame and the BIG EAST in batting. Heading into last week, 1996 BIG EAST player of the year brought a .532 BIG EAST batting average into the final road trip of the regular season and was able to increase her average to .534 after the weekend. Murray went 4-8 with four RBI, two runs and a home run against St. John's. On Sunday, she hit 4-6 against the Connecticut pitching staff with three RBI and three runs with a double, three-run home run and a walk.
Murray, the only player in Notre Dame history to bat over .400 in one season, is on pace to accomplish this once again. She leads the team with a .414 batting average, well on target to hit over .400 for the second consecutive year.
Mathison Leads BIG EAST Freshmen: Freshman Sarah Mathison (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) continues to be among the top hitters in the BIG EAST. Her .418 batting average in conference games is the ninth best in the conference and is the highest among BIG EAST freshmen. She has hit the third-most doubles and hits and fourth-most total bases in her first season in the BIG EAST.
Rowe Reaches and Reaches and Reaches...: Playing leadoff, Kelly Rowe (Edison, N.J.) reached safely in 15 consecutive plate appearances last week. After going 0-2 in her first two at bats against Northwestern on April 15, she then batted 6-6, collected seven walks, was hit by a pitch and reached on an error on her sacrifice hit. This streak spanned the second half of the first game against Northwestern and continued through the second game against Northwestern, a single game against Valparaiso and a doubleheader against St. John's, all wins for Notre Dame.
She was finally retired after 31 consecutive innings in her first at bat in the first game against Connecticut on Sunday. One of her hits in the second game against Northwestern, came in the bottom of the eighth to drive in the winning run for the 7-6 win in extra innings.
Perkins Doubles: Senior Liz Perkins (Cupertino, Calif.) has become Notre Dame's all-time career leader with 46 doubles in her three-plus years at Notre Dame. Her 13 in 1997 are the most since she exploded for 14 doubles in her freshman year. Her eight doubles in BIG EAST games this year are the most in the conference and one short of the all-time BIG EAST record of nine.
Marten Triples: While Perkins is setting records for doubles, Katie Marten has already set Notre Dame and BIG EAST marks for triples. She has hit eight triples so far in 1997, breaking Andy Key's 1993 record of six in one season. Marten has also hit five triples 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 13 career triples are also the most in Notre Dame history.
Irish Suffer First BIG EAST Road Loss: Notre Dame's 3-2 loss at Connecticut marked the first BIG EAST regular season road loss for the Irish since joining the conference in 1996. Notre Dame had gone 14-0 before that loss. The Irish are 32-4 in BIG EAST regular season games, 17-3 at Ivy Field and 15-1 on the road.
Irish Set For Return to Connecticut: Notre Dame looks to return to Connecticut for the 1997 BIG EAST softball championships to be held May 4-5. The top-two teams in the North and South Divisions will comprise the four-team field. The double-elimination tournament will begin with the first place team in the South Division playing the second place team in the North Division at 10:00 a.m. on May 4. The first place team in the North will play the second place team in the South at 12:00 p.m.
USA Today/NFCA Top 25 April 8, 1997
Team Record Pts. LW
1. Arizona (16) 42-4 616 2
2. Fresno State (8) 42-7 604 1
3. South Carolina * (1) 51-3 578 3
4. UCLA 34-10 541 4
5. Iowa * 36-5 531 5
6. Washington 31-10 497 6
7. Missouri * 41-11 452 9
8. Oklahoma 46-14 445 7
9. Michigan State 43-11 416 8
10. Michigan * 40-13-1 377 12
11. Cal Poly SLO 34-13 349 10
12. Arizona State * 30-14 318 11
13. Long Beach State 35-16-1 313 13
14. South Florida 43-11 307 14
15. Colorado State * 39-10 291 16
16. Minnesota 31-12 202 14
17. Florida State 40-15-1 198 18
18. Utah 34-11 185 20
19. Oklahoma State 31-17 180 17
20. Northeast Louisiana 40-7 164 19
21. Louisiana Tech 30-14 118 21
22. Southwest. Louisiana * 41-15 104 25
23. Kansas * 33-16 64 24
24. California 27-19 61 22
25. Cal State Northridge 27-17-2 53 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 13 3 .813 28 19 .596
2. Rutgers 6 6 .500 19 21 .475
3. Villanova 4 10 .286 17 25 .405
4. Seton Hall 3 11 .166 14 20 .412
1. Connecticut 11 1 .917 23 15 .605
2. Boston College 10 4 .714 25 8 .758
3. St. John's 6 9 .400 12 23 .343
4. Providence 2 11 .154 10 21 .323