March 3, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic
March 4-5, 2017
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
#RV Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(6-8 in 2017)
(2-12 in 2017 as of March 2)
(11-5 in 2017 as of March 2)
(5-9 in 2017 as of March 2)
(13-4 in 2017 as of March 2)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule
Saturday, March 4
Notre Dame vs. Purdue – 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame vs. FIU – 5 p.m. (ET)
Sunday, March 5
Notre Dame vs. Chattanooga – 10 a.m. (ET)
Notre Dame vs. Charlotte – 12:15 p.m. (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team makes its seventh straight appearance at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic this weekend, with four games on tap at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida. The Irish will face Purdue and FIU on Saturday before closing the tournament slate with Chattanooga and Charlotte in the brief weekend road swing through the Sunshine State.
Irish Slap Hits• Notre Dame has amassed a 1,152-502-3 (.696) all-time record, 30 combined conference championships (19 regular season, 11 tournament) and 21 NCAA Regional appearances, which has included 18 straight berths into the NCAA Championship tournament.
• Notre Dame closed last weekend’s Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with a pair of victories over national top 15 opponents. The Irish downed No. 11/12 Georgia 10-7 on Feb. 24 before stopping defending NCAA champion No. 4/5 Oklahoma 5-4 on Feb. 25 in the final game of the tournament for both teams.
• Notre Dame’s three wins over national top 15 foes in February were the most by any Irish team in that month in program history. Dating back to a showdown with No. 8 UCLA on Feb. 12, Notre Dame played 10 straight games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 polls.
• Notre Dame has won each of its last two meetings at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against Georgia dating back to 2015, disposing of a national top 15 Bulldog squad in both contests. Prior to the 10-7 win on Feb. 24, the Irish outlasted No. 7/8 Georgia 5-3 on Feb. 21, 2015 in Cathedral City. Notre Dame’s five-run sixth inning against Georgia was the most explosive offensive inning for the Irish thus far this season.
• Notre Dame now has 20 wins over ranked foes since 2013, including 10 victories over the top 10, following its 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25. Notre Dame earned its fifth win in series history over Oklahoma, including its fourth when the Sooners have been ranked in the national top 10. The win over the national No. 4 team matched the highest ranked win in program history.
• Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 28th straight season with a .500 record or better with a 43-13 final mark to close the 2016 campaign. Notre Dame’s three-time national champion women’s soccer program has logged 29 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
Closing The MNCC With A BangA second signature victory of the weekend ended, in style, what has been the most daunting schedule to open a season in Notre Dame softball history. A pair of late home runs, including a solo blast off the bat of freshman Katie Marino in the seventh inning, was the knockout punch for the Irish on Feb. 25 in a 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma.
The victory against the defending NCAA champion Sooners marked the second straight ranked triumph for Notre Dame to close the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex. The Irish previously earned a 10-7 decision against No. 11/12 Georgia on Feb. 24.
Irish Against The Top 10 Since '13Notre Dame’s 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25 pushed the Irish to 10-15 against national top 10 opponents since 2013. Included in the 15 losses in that span are seven defeats by three runs or less.
Historically, Notre Dame has earned 10 of its 29 all-time wins over top 10 opponents in the past five seasons alone. The Irish have added 20 of their 80 triumphs against the national top 25, the program’s ranked-win total dating back to 1995, since the start of the 2013 campaign.
Arduous Test Passed By IrishOver its first 14 contests, Notre Dame played 10 straight games against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in the national top 25 polls at first pitch. The month of February for Notre Dame, from this aspect, featured a stronger strength of schedule than any team currently ranked in the NFCA top 25 coaches poll.
As of March 1, Notre Dame had faced nine top 25 opponents, notching three wins against teams in the top 15 (No. 4 Oklahoma on Feb. 25, No. 11 Georgia on Feb. 24, No. 11 Michigan on Feb. 18). Current No. 7 UCLA took on seven top 25 foes in the season’s opening month, while current No. 14 Michigan played in five ranked matchups in February.
Most intriguing of note, 16 of the current top 25 teams in the country played three or fewer ranked games over the season’s first month, including current No. 18 UL-Lafayette and current No. 11 Alabama squaring off with one another in a three-game series and current No. 21 Pittsburgh winning twice in the same weekend against current No. 19 Kentucky. Two teams, current No. 10 Minnesota and No. 23 California, have yet to face a ranked opponent during lengthy winning streaks to open the 2017 season.
Irish Success Against Top 10 OUNotre Dame’s 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25 not only evened the all-time series with the Sooners at 5-5 since 1992, it was the latest Notre Dame upset of an Oklahoma team ranked among the nation’s elite.
Four of the five Irish wins in series history have now come over a top 10 Oklahoma squad, beginning with a 4-2 Notre Dame triumph over the No. 6 and eventual NCAA champion Sooners on March 18, 2000. Notre Dame has added a 4-3 win over No. 9 Oklahoma on March 22, 2009, and a 2-1 win over No. 9 Oklahoma on March 16, 2011, to dethrone top 10 Sooner clubs.
Westy Nears All-Time Steals MarkDuring the top of the first inning of the 6-4 Irish win over No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18, senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester officially swiped her 100th career base to join elite Notre Dame company.
Wester, already the Irish softball career steals leader, joined baseball greats Steve Stanley (1999-2002, 116) and Scott Sollmann (1994-96, 101) as the only players to record 100 or more stolen bases wearing a Notre Dame uniform.
With a successful swiped bag in the top of the third inning against No. 4/5 Oklahoma, Wester supplanted Sollmann for second place on the all-time Notre Dame stolen bases list with her 102nd steal in 115 career attempts.
Marino Delivers In The ClutchThe first three hits of the career of freshman infielder Katie Marino have served as an impactful beginning for the Notre Dame newcomer.
All three hits for Marino have occurred during the seventh inning. Her first career hit, a solo home run against No. 11/10 Michigan on Feb. 18, led off the bottom of the final inning. Following a game-tying top of the seventh home run against Texas on Feb. 23, Marino did her part to continue an Irish rally with a pinch-hit single through the left side. The coup de grâce was a leadoff home run in the top of the seventh inning against reigning Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player Paige Parker, lifting Notre Dame to a 5-4 win over No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25.
Marino became the first Notre Dame freshman to hit a game-winning home run in the seventh inning of a contest since the 2011 season. Former Irish outfielder Lauren Stuhr (‘14) delivered a three-run, walk-off homer during her rookie campaign to defeat Louisville 8-5 on April 16, 2011 at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Irish Against The OppositionEntering this weekend’s Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, Notre Dame sports a 23-12 (.657) combined record against its four scheduled tournament opponents. The Irish are 15-9 against Purdue, 4-2 against FIU, 2-0 against Charlotte, and 2-1 against Chattanooga in their respective all-time series with each team.
For the latest news and updates on all things Notre Dame softball, visit www.und.com/softball, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter and at Instagram.com/notredamesoftball, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men's soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.