April 29, 1997
Notre Dame Wins Second Straight Big East South Division Title
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame's softball team won its second-straight BIG EAST South Division title this weekend as the Irish won three of four games against visiting Rutgers. Notre Dame will play a doubleheader against Western Michigan on Wednesday at Ivy Field before traveling to Connecticut to face Boston College in the first game of the BIG EAST softball championships.
BIG EAST Championship Preview: Notre Dame will take on Boston College in the first game of the BIG EAST Championships, which will be held in Storrs, Conn., May 3-4. The Irish and Eagles will open the four-team tournament with a their 10:00 a.m. matchup. Rutgers and BIG EAST North Division Champion Connecticut will square off in a 12:00 p.m. contest. Notre Dame won its second-straight BIG EAST South Division title as the Irish finished the BIG EAST regular season with a 16-4 record and the most conference games for the second consecutive season. Notre Dame's four BIG EAST losses came to the three teams in the field. Boston College swept a doubleheader at Notre Dame (0-2, 3-5) on April 4. Notre Dame and Connecticut split a doubleheader at Connecticut (2-3, 6-3) on April 20 and Rutgers won one game of a four-game series at Notre Dame (6-4, 5-0, 0-7, 2-0) on April 26-27.
BIG EAST Championship Schedule
Saturday, May 3
10:00 a.m. Game 1 Notre Dame vs. Boston College
12:00 p.m. Game 2 Connecticut vs. Rutgers
2:00 p.m. Game 3 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
4:00 p.m. Game 4 Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Sunday, May 4
10:00 a.m. Game 5 Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
12:00 p.m. Game 6 Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
2:00 p.m. Game 7 Same teams as Game 6, if necessary
Week in Review: Notre Dame finished 6-1 last week after sweeping a doubleheader against Butler and won three of four games in a four-game series against Rutgers. Against the Bulldogs, the Irish scored eight runs in both games. Notre Dame won the first game 8-3 as Kara McMahon (Pasadena, Texas) and Amy Laboe (Monroe, Mich.) each drove in a pair of runs. Joy Battersby (Morris, Ill.) pitched a complete game in game two as she allowed Butler just one run on four hits. McMahon drove in two more runs in the second game.
Against the Lady Knights, Kris McCleary (Westerville, Ohio) opened the first series with a three-run double in the first inning of game one, a 6-4 Notre Dame win. Three doubles by Katie Marten (Lisle, Ill.), Meghan Murray (Minnetonka, Minn.) and McCleary powered Notre Dame to a 5-0 win in game two.
The third game of the series was all Rutgers as the Lady Knights handed Notre Dame one of its worst home losses ever. The 7-0 Rutgers win matched Northern Illinois' 11-4 win in 1994 and DePaul's 7-0 win in 1989 as the worst defeats by the Irish at Ivy Field. Angela Bessolo (Lakewood, Calif.) came back in the fourth game of the series to pitch a one-hitter against Rutgers. Murray and McCleary each drove in a run and the Lady Knights could manage just one third-inning single in the 2-0 Irish win.
This Week for the Irish: Before traveling to Connecticut for the BIG EAST Championships, Western Michigan comes to Ivy Field for a 2:00 p.m. doubleheader on Wed., April 30. The Broncos bring an 18-16 record into the match-up and have won five of their last six games. Notre Dame holds a 6-2 advantage in the series. Angela Bessolo pitched the longest complete-game shutout in Notre Dame history last year against Western Michigan as she won a 1-0 game in 11 innings.
Head Coach Liz Miller: Liz Miller has compiled a 198-89 (.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 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 739-230 (.763) record.
Murray Finishes First Among BIG EAST Batters: For the second consecutive season, Meghan Murray finished with the highest batting average in the BIG EAST with a .529 average, nearly 70 points higher than the second-best batter. The 1996 BIG EAST player of the year also leads the conference in total bases (59), hits (37), RBI (28) and home runs (4). In 1996, Murray became the first Notre Dame batter to hit over .400 in one season with her .402 batting average. With a .421 average in all games, she is well on pace to accomplish this once again.
Bessolo Finishes First Among BIG EAST Pitchers: 1996 BIG EAST Co-Rookie of the Year, Angela Bessolo worked 41.1 innings of BIG EAST competition and finished with the lowest earned run average among BIG EAST pitchers at 0.85. The conference hitters managed just five earned runs against Bessolo and just eight runs total. Her 13 wins leads Notre Dame in wins for the second consecutive season.
McCleary Catches Fire, Catches Runners: Catcher Kris McCleary raised her batting average from .290 to .325 in the five games that she played last week. Her BIG EAST average went from .355 to .405 in four games. She hit 8-14 with two doubles for a .571 average and .714 slugging percentage last week and also drove in five runs. McCleary finished with the seventh-best batting average in BIG EAST games and the highest among BIG EAST catchers. She has thrown out the most BIG EAST runners attempting to steal. Only four runners have successfully stolen base against McCleary in 12 attempted steals this season.
Perkins Doubles: Senior Liz Perkins (Cupertino, Calif.) has become Notre Dame's all-time career leader with 47 doubles in her three-plus years at Notre Dame. Her 14 in 1997 are the most since she exploded for 14 doubles in her freshman year. Her nine doubles in BIG EAST games this year are the most in conference history, matching the nine hit by Connecticut's Andrea D'Innocenzo in 1995.
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.
1997 BIG EAST Softball Final Standings
BIG EAST Overall
South Division W L Pct. W L Pct
1. Notre Dame 16 4 .800 33 20 .623
2. Rutgers 7 9 .438 22 24 .478
3. Villanova 6 12 .333 22 28 .440
4. Seton Hall 5 13 .278 20 22 .476
1. Connecticut 15 1 .938 28 16 .636
2. Boston College 11 5 .688 28 9 .757
3. St. John's 6 13 .316 15 28 .349
4. Providence 3 12 .200 12 27 .308