Feb. 7, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team will open the 2013 season this weekend at the Fast Pitch Classic, hosted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, in Charlotte, N.C.
This season marks the first time the Irish have ever participated in the Fast Pitch Classic, and Saturday’s game against Charlotte will be the first meeting between the teams in nearly 22 years (April 5, 1991, 1-0 Notre Dame win). Also taking part in the three-day event is the University of Wisconsin (34-19, 13-10 in the BIG Ten in 2012) and Presbyterian College (20-33, 8-13 in the Big South in 2012).
Live video will be available for Saturday’s noon contest against Charlotte here.
For updates throughout the weekend, follow the Irish on Twitter @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf.
Charlotte Fast Pitch Classic
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(40-16 overall, 16-3 BIG EAST in 2012)
(34-19 overall, 13-10 Big Ten in 2012; ND leads all-time series 5-2)
(29-26 overall, 10-10 Atlantic 10 in 2012; ND leads all-time series 1-0)
Presbyterian Blue Hose
(20-33 overall, 8-13 Big South in 2012; first meeting)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule:
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin – Saturday, 10 a.m.
Notre Dame at Charlotte – Saturday, noon
Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin – Sunday, 10 a.m.
Notre Dame vs. Presbyterian – Sunday, noon
IRISH SLAP HITS
• Notre Dame shook off an uncharacteristic 1-4 start, at one point winning 17 straight games, to finish the 2012 season with a 40-16 record (714). It was the 14th 40-win campaign in Irish program history, and the eighth such season under head coach Deanna Gumpf.
• Notre Dame finished second in the BIG EAST regular season standings behind Louisville, setting the stage for an eventual battle with the Cardinals in the BIG EAST Championship game at Melissa Cook Stadium. Louisville claimed the league title on a walkoff home run from Taner Fowler to stun the Irish 4-3 in eight innings.
• Catcher Amy Buntin enjoyed a banner season in 2012, receiving NFCA All-America second team, NFCA all-Region first team and all-BIG EAST second team recognition as a junior. She batted .360 with 62 base hits, 12 home runs, 60 RBI and 45 runs scored in 55 starts, primarily as the Irish catcher. Buntin’s statistics remained strong during BIG EAST Conference play, as her 24 hits, 20 RBI and 18 runs scored all ranked in the top three in the league. Buntin leads all active Notre Dame players with 17 home runs, 84 RBI and 79 runs scored during her career.
• The Irish surpassed the .300 batting average plateau for the third consecutive season, and just the eighth time in program history, logging a .306 clip as a team in 2012. Notre Dame also averaged five or more runs per game (5.23) for the fourth consecutive season, and stole more than one base per contest (1.04) for the third straight campaign.
• Notre Dame closed the BIG EAST regular season schedule with a 16-3 record (.842). It was the 13th time in 17 years as a conference member that the Irish won at least 15 league games in a single season. Laura Winter was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year after logging a 29-11 record, including a sparkling 13-2 mark with a 1.21 ERA in league play. Winter, Dani Miller (BIG EAST leading 16 home runs) and Alexa Maldonado (.420 OBP) were selected to the all-BIG EAST first team. Amy Buntin, Kelsey Thornton (.348 batting average, team-high 19 stolen bases) and Chloe Saganowich (.321 average) were tabbed as second team honorees.
Gone But Not Forgotten
The 2012 season was the last for Notre Dame standouts Dani Miller and Alexa Maldonado, two players who left an indelible mark on the Irish program. Both finished their careers ranked in the top 15 all-time in batting average, hits, doubles, total bases, and slugging percentage.
Miller, a 2011 third team All-American, is second on the Irish home run list after clearing the fence 48 times at Notre Dame, and also drove in the second-most runs in Irish history (176 RBI).
Maldonado, a three-time all-BIG EAST first team selection, played in 226 games during her Irish career, and was a fixture in center field.
Notre Dame Likes Winter Season
Pitcher Laura Winter followed an impressive 25-4 effort as a freshman by taking home the league’s top pitching award last season. Winter ranked third in the NCAA in walks allowed per seven innings, issuing a free pass to only 26 batters in 263.1 innings pitched (0.69 per 7). The Irish righty also cracked the national top-50 with 29 wins (15th), 288 strikeouts (16th) and 7.6 strikeouts per seven innings played (56th).
They Weren’t So Fresh-Man
The Notre Dame freshmen trio of Katey Haus, Jenna Simon and Emilee Koerner played wiser than their class year might have dictated in 2012.
Haus finished third on the Irish with eight home runs in her first season, slugging at a .514 clip in the process. The Oceanside, Calif. native added seven doubles and 29 RBI in 55 starts (all but one at third base).
Simon emerged as the regular starter at second base early in the year, finishing with a .286 batting average in 56 games (48 starts). Simon tied Chloe Saganowich for the Notre Dame lead with two triples, and was second on the Irish with 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts. The Granger, Ind. product paced all Notre Dame newcomers with 29 runs.
Koerner added to the offensive production from the freshman class, leading all Irish newcomers with a .320 batting average (.393 OBP), 48 hits and 12 doubles. The Tustin, Calif. native made 45 starts in left field, shifting to right field on six occasions.
A fourth member of the class of 2015, catcher Cassidy Whidden (five starts last season), is expected to see additional innings behind the dish as a sophomore.
A One-Two Punch
Along with Laura Winter, Notre Dame returns a second seasoned competitor in the circle, senior hurler Brittany O’Donnell.
Fresh off an all-BIG EAST second team citation in 2011, O’Donnell posted an 11-5 record in 26 appearances last season, including 16 starts, finishing the year with a 3.57 ERA. Opponents batted just .250 against O’Donnell in 94 innings.
Irish Ranked Among Conference Best
A strong finish on the league stat sheet powered Notre Dame’s 16-3 conference record in 2012. The Irish led the league in on-base percentage (.367) and walks allowed (87), and finished second in team batting average (.306), slugging percentage (.466), runs (293), hits (457), RBI (266), home runs (54) and total bases (696).
NCAAs Becoming A Tradition
The Irish made their first-ever trip to Tucson, Ariz., for the regional round of the 2012 NCAA Softball Championship at Hillenbrand Stadium. It was Notre Dame’s 17th all-time appearance at the NCAA Championship – and 14th consecutive – with each of the last 11 trips coming under the direction of head coach Deanna Gumpf.
The Irish will compete at the Campbell/Cartier Classic Feb. 15-17 in San Diego, Calif.