Feb. 14, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team will embark on its second tournament stop of the season this weekend, traveling to Jacksonville, Fla. for three games at the JU Tournament at the Debbie and Fred Pruitt Softball Complex.
Due to inclement weather in many parts of the country, #17/14 Missouri, who was originally a two-time opponent on the Irish schedule, was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to travel difficulties. Notre Dame will now face #23/25 Louisville twice (Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET), with host Jacksonville (Saturday at 5 p.m. ET) rounding out the weekend schedule.
Notre Dame and Louisville will meet for the 10th consecutive season, and the first time since 2005 outside of BIG EAST Conference or NCAA Regional play. The Cardinals hold a slim 13-12 edge during that span over the Irish, with Notre Dame claiming a 2-1 advantage in neutral site contests.
Host Jacksonville will face Notre Dame for just the third time in each program's history, with the Irish holding a 2-0 lead in the all-time series between the squads. Notre Dame defeated the Dolphins 7-2 in the most recent meeting on March 2, 2007.
Fans can follow live stats for this weekend's games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
JU Tournament, hosted by Jacksonville University
February 15-16, 2014
Debbie and Fred Pruitt Softball Complex
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(3-1 in 2014)
(3-2 in 2014; 14-12 all-time against ND)
(3-2 in 2014; 0-2 all-time against ND)
North Carolina Tar Heels (will not face Notre Dame)
(1-3 in 2014)
IRISH SLAP HITS
Notre Dame opened the 2014 softball season by winning three out of four games at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational last weekend. The Irish defeated Tennessee Tech 9-1 in six innings last Saturday, and added a 9-0 win in five frames over Morehead State, and a 3-2 comeback victory in eight innings against host Auburn on Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field.
Sophomore pitcher Allie Rhodes went a perfect 2-0 in the circle on the weekend, which included tossing the 40th no-hitter in Notre Dame program history on Sunday against Morehead State. The Irish southpaw surrendered only two hits in nine innings of work, walking three and striking out 11 batters in the opening tournament of the season.
Junior outfielder Emilee Koerner picked up where she left off in 2013 during her first four games, batting at a .429 clip (6-for-14) with three home runs, seven RBI, two stolen bases and six runs scored. The preseason espnW first team All-American currently leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 1.286 slugging percentage.
In her first at-bat since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during NCAA Regional play last May, junior catcher Cassidy Whidden made an impactful return to the Notre Dame lineup. The Parrish, Fla., native turned on the second pitch she saw and blasted a three-run home run to left center field for the winning hit against Tennessee Tech. Whidden closed the weekend with a .364 average and five RBI.
Through the opening weekend of the season, Notre Dame ranks in the top five of 12 major offensive categories in the ACC. The Irish lead all conference teams with three triples and five sacrifice bunts, and are second in slugging percentage (.511), runs scored (22) and RBI (20).
Notre Dame returns to Jacksonville for its first tournament against the Dolphins since the 2007 season, when the Irish went a combined 3-1 during the event. Notre Dame earned a pair of wins (4-1 and 6-3) over Virginia, and added a 7-2 win over Jacksonville.
A total of 12 different Notre Dame players scored at least one run during the Auburn Plainsman Invitational.
Successful First Weekend At Auburn
Notre Dame completed its first tournament trip of the 2014 season with a 3-1 record at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational last weekend. It was the 10th different time the Irish have won at least two games in the season's first tournament stop under head coach Deanna Gumpf.
Notre Dame outscored opponents by a combined 22-7 margin, and finished the event with the edge in hits (25-17), extra base hits (12-3), RBI (20-7) and total bases (48-29), all while posting a team ERA of 1.40.
It Looks Like Christmas In...February?
Unseasonably cold temperatures and amounts of snowfall have blanketed much of the United States thus far this winter, wreaking havoc on the NCAA softball schedule. This weekend's Jacksonville University Tournament is no exception, as nationally ranked Missouri was forced to pull out of competing at the event due to travel concerns.
The Irish will now play a pair of games against longtime rival Louisville (Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m.), and will face host Jacksonville Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Debbie and Fred Pruitt Softball Complex.
Roll The `Bones'
Sophomore pitcher Allie Rhodes got her 2014 campaign off to a great start at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational, winning both of her appearances against Tennessee Tech (9-1 in six innings) and Morehead State (9-0 in five innings) to key Notre Dame's pitching attack last weekend. The Kirkland, Wash., native also made a bit of history along the way.
Rhodes forever etched her name into the Notre Dame record books by hurling the 40th no-hitter (33rd solo) in program history in last Sunday's victory over Morehead State. Rhodes walked no Eagle batters over her five innings of work, finishing one strikeout off of her career-high with eight punch-outs.
Is There Anything She Can't Do?
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner seemed to barely miss a beat last weekend coming off her record setting season for Notre Dame in 2013. Koerner, who finished as a top 10 finalist for last year's USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, drove the Irish lineup out of the leadoff spot at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational, showcasing why she is one of the preeminent offensive players in the nation.
Koerner batted .429 (6-for-14) in four starts in center field last weekend, adding a team-high five extra base hits (including three home runs), seven RBI, 18 total bases, two stolen bases, a 1.286 slugging percentage and six runs scored.
The Tustin, Calif., native also moved into a tie for 17th place on the all-time Notre Dame home run list (16) with her three round-trippers last weekend.
Welcome Back `Chass'
Not only was her first at-bat, a three-run home run against Tennessee Tech, returning from injury an impactful one, but junior catcher Cassidy Whidden enjoyed a steady opening weekend at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational.
Nearly nine months after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Virginia Tech on May 17, 2013, Whidden started all four games (two at catcher, two at designated player) during the opening tournament, batting .364 with five RBI and a stolen base.
Frosh In The Big Show
The four-player Notre Dame freshman class of 2014 each made an immediate impression during the Auburn Plainsman Invitational. Outfielder Karley Wester, infielder Kimmy Sullivan, utility player Dana Bouquet and pitcher Rachel Nasland all made their Irish debuts during the first tournament of the year.
Wester played in four games, including three starts in left field, and batted in the two spot of the Notre Dame lineup. Wester drew three walks in her first career start against Tennessee Tech, and added an RBI triple and a stolen base during the weekend.
Sullivan broke free from a slow start with a pinch-hit double in the top of the sixth inning at Auburn, ultimately scoring on an RBI double from Emilee Koerner to help key a Notre Dame comeback win. Sullivan played in three games, making one start at first base.
Bouquet pinch ran for Laura Winter in the first inning of the season opening game against Tennessee Tech, and scored a run in her first appearance on the base paths. She was the lead runner to cross the plate on Cassidy Whidden's three-run home run with two outs in the top of the opening frame.
Nasland saw her first action in the pitching circle in the top of the fifth inning against Tennessee Tech, taking over for starter Allie Rhodes after four strong innings. Nasland threw 33 pitches, 16 for strikes, allowing one run on two hits in two full innings against the Golden Eagles.
Irish Attack With Two Outs
Of the team's 20 total RBI during the first weekend of the 2014 campaign, an impressive 11 runs were batted in by Notre Dame hitters with two outs on the board. Conversely, Irish opponents managed only three RBI with two away in a given inning at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational.
All five of junior Cassidy Whidden's RBI thus far in 2014 have come with two outs, increasing the two-out RBI ratio for the Parrish, Fla., native to 31 of her last 36 runs batted in coming with two outs. Emilee Koerner added three two-out RBI on her bottom of the second inning home run against Morehead State.
Back Home In FLA
Three players on Notre Dame's roster call the state of Florida, the host state for this weekend's Jacksonville University Tournament, home. Senior captain Chloe Saganowich (Treasure Island) and classmate Monica Torres (Winter Springs), along with junior Cassidy Whidden (Parrish), are all natives of the Sunshine State.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 2-0 all-time against Jacksonville, outscoring the Dolphins by a cumulative run count of 9-3. Louisville holds a small 14-12 edge over the Irish, with Notre Dame taking two of the last three contests between the teams to win the 2013 BIG EAST Conference regular-season championship. The Cardinals are set to join the Irish in the ACC in 2015.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant