HONORS AND AWARDS:
2017 NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year
2016 NFCA Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year
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
A former member of the USA Softball National Team and the 2001 BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, Lizzy Ristano enters her 13th season in the Notre Dame dugout as an assistant coach.
Ristano, elevated to her current title of associate coach in August of 2012, works closely with the Irish outfield corps and is the program’s lead hitting instructor. She has helped Notre Dame advance to NCAA Regionals in each of her 12 seasons as part of the Irish coaching staff. Ristano was a member of two BIG EAST Coaching Staffs of the Year (2011 and 2013), and has been a part of three National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Coaching Staffs of the Year (2014, 2016 and 2017) during her Notre Dame tenure.
Notre Dame Highlights:
• 3-Time NFCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year (2014, 2016, 2017)
• 12 NCAA Regional Appearances in 12 Seasons
• 7-Time NCAA Regional Finalist
• 5-Time BIG EAST Conference Champion (Three Regular-Season, Two Tournament)
• 2-Time BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year (2011 & 2013)
• 2-Time Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Runner-Up (2014 & 2016)
• 3 USA Softball National Player of the Year Finalists
• 2 NFCA Freshman of the Year Finalists
• 12 NFCA All-Americans
• 54 NFCA All-Region Selections (38 First-Team Choices)
• 3 Conference Players of the Year
• 2 Conference Pitchers of the Year
• 1 Conference Freshman of the Year
• 68 All-Conference Selections (31 First-Team Choices)
• 3 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans
• 9 NFCA Division I Scholar-Athletes
• 4 NPF Draft Picks
RECENT OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION UNDER RISTANO
Notre Dame narrowly missed surpassing the .300 plateau for team batting average for the eighth straight season in 2017, finishing at a .299 team clip against one of the toughest schedules in program history. For the fourth straight season as an ACC member, an Irish hitter sat at the top of the conference standings for hits. Ali Wester tied two other players with 74 base knocks in 2017 to lead the ACC, after sister Karley Wester (the ACC leader in career hits with 323) was the outright conference hits champion from 2014-16.
The 2016 Notre Dame offense established a team record with 346 RBI in 56 games, finishing with a team batting average over .340 for the third straight season and just the fourth time in 28 years. The Irish batted .347 to place fourth in NCAA Division I softball, their third national top six placement in average in as many years.
Karley Wester earned her second career NFCA All-America nod by claiming third-team honors following a dynamic 2016 season that saw the Notre Dame center fielder establish Irish program marks for a single season with 91 hits, 68 runs scored and 46 stolen bases. No other Notre Dame player has ever reached the 90-hit or 40-steals plateau in a given season.
The Irish capped a successful offensive 2015 season under Ristano’s watch with a 42-15 (.737) mark, establishing single-season program records for hits (543), runs (395) and on-base percentage (.419), batting above a .350 clip (.351) for the second straight year.
Team records set by the 2014 Notre Dame offense (41-13) during its inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season 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 added 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 in 2014. Notre Dame was ranked among the national top 25 teams over the final 14 weeks of the season, tying a program record set by the Ristano-captained 2001 Irish team (54-7) for consecutive weeks appearing in the national polls during a single season.
Numerous Irish hitters recorded career years in 2013, with Emilee Koerner enjoying a four-week run as the leading statistical hitter in the NCAA on her way to a .439 final average, and USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 10 finalist and NFCA All-America second team recognition. Laura Winter equaled the single-season program record for home runs with the first 17 long balls of her Irish career, while Kelsey Thornton (.357 average) and Lauren Stuhr (.294 average, five home runs) also posted career-best offensive production under Ristano's instruction.
BEFORE RETURNING TO NOTRE DAME IN 2006
Ristano trekked from coast to coast after earning a pair of degrees from Notre Dame in 2001 before landing back in South Bend. Upon graduation, she earned a spot on the U.S. National Team that steamrolled the competition with four consecutive victories and a tournament title during the 2001 U.S. Cup in Hawaii.
After her time with the U.S. National Team, Ristano returned to Notre Dame as an athletic department intern through the summer of 2002. It was then that she was accepted into the sport management program at the University of Massachusetts, and she went on to earn a master's degree in that field. While pursuing her degree, Ristano also served as an intern in the athletic department compliance office. In addition, Ristano was also a volunteer assistant coach for the softball squad, coordinating team travel and developing the play of the Minutewomen outfield.
In 2003, Ristano shifted gears by landing a position at Boston College within the athletic department's development office, and was hired one year later as an annual giving associate at Stanford University.
PLAYING CAREER AT NOTRE DAME
Ristano, under her maiden name Lemire, captained the most successful team in the history of Notre Dame softball, powering the 2001 Irish to an overall record of 54-7 along with an all-time best No. 7 national ranking and the program’s first number one seed at NCAA Regionals.
As a senior, Ristano hit .324 (including a .383 mark in BIG EAST play) with 38 RBI, 10 stolen bases and three home runs. She shared the program's single-season record for doubles, logging 17 two-baggers in 1999, that was later surpassed by three-time All-American Emilee Koerner in 2013 (21). Under Ristano's guidance, Koerner smashed her own team doubles mark with 28 in 2014, the second-most during a single season in NCAA Division I softball history.
Ristano's career numbers included a .332 average, 28 stolen bases, 126 RBI, nine home runs and 43 doubles. Ristano is regarded as one of the most fearless and skilled defensive outfielders in Notre Dame history. Her personal efforts were reflected in her team's success, as Ristano was part of a senior class that complied an overall record of 177-63 (.738), earned two BIG EAST Tournament championships, four regular season conference titles, and made three consecutive trips to NCAA Regionals.
PREP SOFTBALL STANDOUT
Ristano prepped at Woodbridge High School after growing up in Irvine, Calif., where she was the city and high school's scholar-athlete of the year in 1997. The Irvine World News also recognized her as its female athlete of the year following her senior campaign. Ristano led Woodbridge to a No. 2 national ranking and was an ASA All-American in 1997.
THE RISTANO FAMILY
Ristano and her husband, Notre Dame baseball pitching coach Chuck Ristano, were married in November of 2014. The couple resides in Granger with their daughter, Jane (born in April of 2016), and their dog, Mo.