March 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the second straight season, the Notre Dame softball team will spend a weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Buena Vista, Fla. The Irish are slated to meet LIU Brooklyn, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Fordham in the third weekend of the 2012 season.
Notre Dame is off to a 4-5 start and took a pair of wins at No. 24 North Carolina last weekend. The Irish feature a powerful lineup that is hitting .291 with 10 home runs. Dani Miller is hitting .433 with four home runs and 14 RBI while Amy Buntin is hitting .423 with four doubles. Three other Irish players are hitting over .290.
In the circle, Laura Winter tossed 31.2 innings for a 2-3 record with a 3.32 ERA and 41 strikeouts. Jackie Bowe leads the way with a 1.62 ERA in 13.0 innings while Brittany O'Donnell is 2-2 with a 6.12 ERA in 16.0 innings.
Live stats for each contest will be available at UND.com. Fans are encouraged to keep up with Irish softball action on Twitter throughout the season by following @NDsoftball, @NDcoachGumpf, @UND_com and @NDsidJorge.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds
Ohio State Buckeyes
Virginia Tech Hokies
Senior All-American Dani Miller was selected as the BIG EAST Conference Softball Player of the Week on Feb. 27 ... Miller batted .500 (7-for-14) and recorded two home runs - including a grand slam against No. 24 North Carolina - along with eight RBI and scored and three runs at the Carolina Classic ... defensively, she did not commit a single error and extended her streak of games without a fault to 70 (243 chances dating back to 2010) ... Miller also was named to the Carolina Classic all-tournament team along with classmate Alexa Maldonado.
Laura Winter notched two wins and a save through three appearances at the Carolina Classic ... Winter allowed 11 hits and five earned runs in 15.0 innings for a 2.33 ERA ... the righty struck out a career-high 13 batters in a Feb. 25 victory over Penn State and tossed a complete-game, three-hitter with eight strikeouts against No. 24 North Carolina
Notre Dame was able to hang its hat on a nine-game winning streak to open the 2011 season, the best in program history ... after dropping its first three games of 2012, the Irish have plenty of reason to remain cool and collective even after finishing the opening weekend with a 1-4 record, ... if the opening weekend of the past few seasons can be used as an indicator, the Irish are in store for many more wins in the coming months ... Notre Dame started 2-3 in 2007 (finished 32-24), 2-2 in 2008 (finished 38-22-1), 1-3 in 2009 (finished 43-17) and 1-4 in 2010 (finished 47-12).
The only player in program history to hit 10+ home runs in each of her first three seasons with the program, All-American Dani Miller went yard in back-to-back games to open the 2012 campaign ... now with 34 career home runs, Miller is fourth on the all-time list behind Heather Johnson (35), Jarrah Myers (36) and Christine Lux (50).
Three freshmen started for Notre Dame in the 2011 season opener and two - Katey Haus and Emilee Koerner - cracked the lineup to begin the 2012 slate ... first-year infielder Jenna Simon also saw action in the opening game and classmate Cassidy Whidden waited until game two of the campaign to record a hit in her first collegiate at-bat.
Alexa Maldonado crushed a solo home run for Notre Dame's lone score against Boise State at the Campbell/Cartier Classic, giving her 10 career home runs to match 10 career triples ... only two other players in program history have notched 10 home runs and 10 triples in a career: Sarah Hayes (1992-95) - 26 HR / 11 3B, Meghan Murray (1994-97) - 15 HR, 12 3B.
Miller was named to the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list, giving her a chance to win the award designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country ... the preseason list includes 23 seniors, 20 juniors and seven sophomores, with freshmen ineligible for consideration (freshmen can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level) ... the top 25 finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 11 ... USA Softball named Miller to its watch list just days after releasing its preseason top 25 poll ... Notre Dame was ranked 25th in the poll, the highest of any BIG EAST Conference team ... Notre Dame received 12 votes in the USA Today / NFCA preseason rankings, four spots outside of its top 25 ... the Irish are currently unranked and not receiving votes in either poll.