Amy Buntin's three-run, walk-off homer gives Irish 5-3 win at Melissa Cook Stadium.
HONORS AND AWARDS: 2014 NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year 2013 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year 2011 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year 2004 NFCA Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year 2004 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year 2002 NFCA Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year 2002 BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year
Regarded as the best all-around catcher in Irish history, Kris Ganeff is now in her 14th year as an assistant coach with the Notre Dame softball program.
Ganeff, elevated to her current title of associate coach in August 2012, spearheads the recruiting efforts for the Irish, which annually attracts the top players from across the nation. In addition to being the program's recruiting coordinator, she also runs and directs Notre Dame's camps and clinics.
A key member of three National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) regional and four BIG EAST Conference coaching staffs of the year, Ganeff works closely with each player on hitting and defense, specializing in the development of the Irish infield and catchers.
Perennially one of the best defensive teams in the nation, Notre Dame again finished in the top 25 of all Division I programs in fielding percentage in 2014, placing 11th in the country with a .974 fielding clip. The 37 errors recorded by the Irish last season were the second-fewest (36, 1993) during a single season in program history.
Catcher Cassidy Whidden set offensive career-highs in batting average (.336), home runs (11) and RBI (35) during her junior season in 2014, but the Irish backstop also made an impact in her first full season behind the plate. Whidden committed just two errors in 322 total chances in the field (.994 fielding percentage) under Ganeff's watch, earning NFCA Mid-Atlantic all-region first team and all-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) third team accolades.
Notre Dame's final season in the BIG EAST Conference in 2013 yielded a similar result, a national top 25 finish with a final combined fielding percentage of .971. The Irish committed the fewest errors of any BIG EAST team (45), and senior catcher Amy Buntin emerged as one of the best defensive players in collegiate softball, recording only one error in nearly 400 chances behind the plate (.997 fielding percentage).
Under Ganeff's tutelage, Buntin was named to the 2012 NFCA All-America second team, the 21st All-America honor in program history. Buntin led the Irish with a .360 batting average and 60 RBI, and posted a .990 fielding percentage behind the dish as a junior.
Another star Ganeff catching pupil was Alexia Clay, who in 2011 was named to the NFCA Great Lakes Region and BIG EAST first team. Clay made the most of her senior campaign and carried a big stick with a .482 batting average in league play. Clay led the league with a .571 on-base pct. and 23 runs scored. Clay was a constant threat behind the plate with 295 putouts, 40 assists and two errors for a sterling .994 fielding pct. and ended her career ranked among the top fielders in program history.
Ganeff helped mold catcher Mallorie Lenn into an all-BIG EAST performer in 2004 - a season in which the Irish also finished with a 49-20 record and took home the conference championship. Then in 2008, the Irish were without a catcher when starter Sadie Pitzenberger's season was cut short due to injury. Ganeff took (then) freshman utility player Erin Marrone - who had never played catcher before in her career - under her wing to call the shots for all-region pitcher Brittney Bargar. Marrone saw action in 55 contests for Notre Dame that season and did not commit a single error in the field or behind the plate.
What's more, defenders under Ganeff's watch produced a .978 fielding pct. in 2010, the nation's fifth-best mark which was also good for a school record.
Ganeff has been a pivotal cog in aiding the development of the Irish bats and batteries as Notre Dame has posted numerous school records since her first season on staff. Team records set by the 2014 Notre Dame team included the highest batting average (.357) and most doubles (107, 1.98 doubles per game) in a single season in program history, figures that also led all Division I teams in the NCAA. The Irish, who had a team-best 533 hits and a .419 on-base percentage, also finished second nationally with a .552 slugging percentage and were seventh in scoring after tallying 6.69 runs per game.
Notre Dame was also ranked among the national top 25 teams over the final 14 weeks of 2014, tying a program record set by the 2001 Irish team (54-7) for consecutive weeks appearing in the national polls during a single season.
The Irish strutted their stuff throughout the 20-game BIG EAST slate in 2011 by finishing among the top in the following team categories: batting average (.385), slugging pct. (.636), on-base pct. (.459), runs scored (162), hits (204), RBI (145), doubles (39), total bases (.337), sacrifice bunts (20) and stolen bases (37).
Notre Dame finished 2010 with a 47-12 mark and set single-season program records with a nation-leading batting average (.343), runs (369), doubles (103), home runs (75), RBI (337), total bases (878), slugging pct. (.590) and on-base pct. (.409). The Irish were second among NCAA teams with 1.75 doubles/game and fourth in slugging pct. In regular season BIG EAST play, the Irish ranked first in slugging percentage (.635), runs scored (150), RBI (134), doubles (46), home runs (31) and total bases (330).
The previous season, the Irish went on to rewrite the record books during their 2009 BIG EAST Championship-winning campaign: runs (2nd - 310), doubles (3rd - 90), home runs (1st - 66), RBI (1st - 282), total bases (1st - 748), slugging pct. (1st - .501), walks (1st - 152), on-base pct. (2nd - .371) and complete games (3rd - 46).
Dating back to Ganeff's first season on the Notre Dame coaching staff, the 2002 team set school marks for runs (318) and home runs (54); the 2003 team posted the highest fielding percentage in school history (.974); the 2004 group logged a program-best 52 complete games and 22 double plays, and the 2005 squad set marks for strikeouts (547) and strikeouts per seven innings (8.74).
Prior to the 2006 season, Ganeff was promoted to the first assistant position with the Irish. The shift paid off well for all parties involved - Ganeff would assume full control of the team during the first three weeks of the season and led the team to a 7-6 record while head coach Deanna Gumpf was on maternity leave.
Ganeff completed her Notre Dame career by earning all-BIG EAST and all-NFCA Mideast Region honors as a senior in 1999. She hit a career-high seven home runs in her final season while snagging out 16 attempted steals from behind the plate.
The Virginia Roadsters of the Women's Professional Softball League drafted Ganeff after she graduated from Notre Dame in 1999, though the former Irish team captain and MVP instead chose to head into the coaching ranks by taking an assistant position at UNLV.
A native of Westerville, Ohio, Ganeff earned a bachelor's degree in history from Notre Dame and completed her master's degree in physical education from Ball State in 2009. The former Kris McCleary has been married to John Ganeff since 2002, and the couple resides in South Bend with their daughters, Deven and Hayden.