March 9, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team opens its spring break slate of 10 games in seven days this weekend at the Diamond Devil Invitational, hosted by Arizona State University, in Tempe, Ariz. It will be the first time the Irish have ever taken part in the tournament.
The tournament's opening day was canceled due to inclement weather Friday, and the schedule has been changed to account for the postponed contests.
Notre Dame (12-5), winners of eight consecutive games, begins play at the Diamond Devil Invitational with a pair of games Saturday at Arizona State's Farrington Stadium against New Mexico State (14-7) at 11:30 a.m. (MT) and UC Davis (9-11) at 2 p.m. (MT). The Irish close the tournament Sunday with a rematch with New Mexico State at 4:30 p.m. (PT).
Fans can follow live stats for all games via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
For updates throughout the weekend, follow the Irish on Twitter @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf.
Arizona State Diamond Devil Invitational
Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium (1,535)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
UC Davis Aggies
(9-11 overall; ND leads all-time series 1-0)
New Mexico State Aggies
(14-7 overall; ND leads all-time series 1-0)
Notre Dame Weekend Schedule (Updated after cancelations Friday:
Notre Dame vs. New Mexico State - Saturday, 11:30 a.m. (MT)
Notre Dame vs. UC Davis - Saturday, 2 p.m. (MT)
Notre Dame vs. New Mexico State - Sunday, 4:30 p.m. (PT)
IRISH SLAP HITS
• Notre Dame capped its second straight undefeated tournament with a 4-0 effort at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic last weekend in Kissimmee, Fla.
• The Notre Dame offense continued its recent dominance over opposing pitching at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, scoring a total of 30 runs for the second straight weekend (30-8 edge). The Irish also had a higher cumulative batting average (.365-.194) and more hits (38-19), extra base hits (16-9), RBI (29-6), and total bases (72-34).
• During its eight-game winning streak, Notre Dame is batting an impressive .380 as a team while logging a 1.68 ERA in the circle. 35 of the squad's 79 hits have gone for extra bases, not far from the 40 total hits allowed by pitchers Brittany O'Donnell, Laura Winter and Allie Rhodes to opponents during that span.
• One week removed from her BIG EAST Player of the Week performance at the East Carolina Pirate Invitational, outfielder Emilee Koerner continued her early season tear in the batter's box at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Irish sophomore batted an even .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, a triple, a grand slam and five RBI in wins over Boston College, Georgia Tech, LIU and Maryland. Koerner was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for her efforts.
• Lauren Stuhr hit three of Notre Dame's eight home runs during the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, and each of the junior's three long balls played key roles in Irish victories over the weekend. Stuhr's solo blasts in the fourth and sixth innings against Georgia Tech accounted for the first and fourth runs in a 6-2 win. The left fielder was at it again Sunday against Maryland, tying the game at 1-1 in the second inning with her third homer of the tournament in an eventual 5-3 Irish win.
• Senior captain and 2012 All-American Amy Buntin raised her season batting average 86 points (.176 to .262) after hitting at a .625 clip (5-for-8) with a home run and four RBI in three starts last weekend. Buntin's five hits were second on the team (Emilee Koerner and Jenna Simon each finished the weekend with six hits apiece).
Cass Cashes In
After taking only 35 official at-bats during her freshman season at Notre Dame in 2012 (26 games), Cassidy Whidden has emerged as an extra base hit threat in the Irish offensive arsenal.
The sophomore catcher is batting .318 in 14 games this season (six starts), and has already set career-highs with seven hits, four home runs, nine RBI, three stolen bases and seven runs scored in only 22 at-bats.
Whidden battled in a 12-pitch at-bat as a pinch hitter last Sunday against Maryland, blasting a three-run home run that ultimately won the game for Notre Dame 5-3.
It was the Parish, Fla. native's second pinch-hit homer in as many days, as Whidden connected on a two-run long ball in the bottom of the sixth the day before in a 6-2 win over Georgia Tech.
O'Donnell Continues To Roll
Pitcher Brittany O'Donnell not only improved her team-best pitching record to 6-1 last weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, but did so in dominant fashion.
The senior right-hander shut down both Boston College and LIU in her two starts, yielding one earned run in 12 innings pitched. Opponents hit .188 against O'Donnell for the weekend, and the Irish hurler struck out a team-best 14 batters while walking only three.
With her 34-10 career record, O'Donnell currently ranks fourth all-time in winning percentage (.773) in Notre Dame program history.
Power Game Keying Irish Run
During Notre Dame's 4-5 start to the 2013 season, the Irish only managed to hit four team home runs. The bats have more than woken up during the team's eight-game winning streak, as Notre Dame has erupted for 15 team jacks in its last two weekends alone.
Emilee Koerner, Cassidy Whidden, Lauren Stuhr and Laura Winter have each left the yard three times during the winning streak to pace the Irish. Both Winter (Fairfield, Feb. 24) and Stuhr (Georgia Tech, March 2) have chipped in multi-home run contests in the last eight Notre Dame wins.
Koerner Cutting A Historic Pace
After only 17 games this season, Emilee Koerner is in some tall offensive company in Notre Dame softball history.
Of all hitters who have taken at least 50 at-bats in a single season, Koerner currently has the highest individual batting average of all-time at .518 (29-for-56). The sophomore outfielder's .875 slugging percentage would rank first in the single season record books if the year were at its end. Koerner has moved into the number three spot (.374) in career batting average after her hot start this season.
Buntin For Senior CLASS
Captain Amy Buntin is one of 30 candidates for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award®. Eligible student-athletes must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
The award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The 10 award finalists will be announced at the halfway mark of the regular season, at which time fans will have the opportunity to cast their vote to determine the winner.
Visit Amy's candidate page at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/athletes/amy_buntin/.