March 11, 2014
ORLANDO. Fla. – Spring Break has officially sprung, and the University of Notre Dame softball team has uprooted itself from its traditional tournament swing through the state of California. The Irish competed in their first ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series this past weekend at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and have now transitioned to Orlando as a home base for the week.
Here are the latest news and notes on Notre Dame softball as the team prepares for a pair of games Thursday at Central Florida and its second ACC set at Virginia Tech next weekend:
Day Off At Universal Studios
After arriving in Orlando late Sunday night following the conclusion of the series at Georgia Tech, the Irish enjoyed a complete off day on Monday, which allowed a handful of local student-athletes to spend time with their families. Others took part in a group outing to Universal Studios, thanks in part to the generosity of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
Practicing On The Field
For the first time in the 2014 season, Notre Dame will have the opportunity to practice outdoors, and on an actual softball diamond, over the next two days in Florida. The Irish will train at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the site of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic earlier in the month, on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Having a day off, letting them get away if they wanted to, was huge,” Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “The thing we are so excited about is practicing on dirt for two days in a row, we are all looking so forward to that and are not really looking too far ahead to the games just yet. We’ve got a couple of days to recuperate and prepare for our opponents, but it is great to practice on dirt.”
Winter Named ACC Pitcher Of The Week
Senior Laura Winter was named ACC Pitcher of the Week in recognition of her solid all-round performance in the circle during her two starts at Georgia Tech last weekend. Winter won both of her outings in Atlanta, tossing a shutout in both contests while allowing a combined five hits in 12 innings, striking out 19 Georgia Tech batters.
“The great thing about Laura is she has the experience, and she knows what to do,” Gumpf said. “Not all days are going to be easy, and not all days are going to go her way, but in the big picture she does a great job of keeping her composure and finding a way to get outs. She gets hitters to hit the pitches she wants them to hit, and that’s a really good thing.”
“I think relaxing was really the key, things were kind of hurting a little bit (by the end of the weekend),” Winter said. “Just taking it one pitch at a time and relaxing out there.”
Micaela’s Grand Slam The Difference
Notre Dame had built a 2-0 lead over Georgia Tech in the second inning of Sunday’s rubber match, but sophomore first baseman Micaela Arizmendi erased all doubt as to which team had the momentum before the end of the frame.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Arizmendi blasted a 2-2 pitch that traveled deep over the right field fence at Mewborn Field for a grand slam that broke the game open at 6-0. It was Arizmendi’s fifth career home run (third in 2014), and moved her into a share for the Notre Dame RBI lead this season with junior third baseman Katey Haus (19).
First National Rankings Released
The NCAA released its first softball statistical report of the season on Monday, and Notre Dame held a steady presence in the top 50 of a number of categories.
The Irish are third in the nation in doubles per game, logging 2.19 two-baggers per contest to lead the ACC. Notre Dame’s 46 total doubles are also the most in the conference.
With a .339 team batting average through 21 games, the Irish are the 15th ranked hitting team in the country, and lead the NCAA with the near .340 clip. A total of eight Notre Dame players who have recorded at least 20 at-bats this season are batting at .300 or higher.
Other Irish statistical metrics in the top national 50 include fielding percentage (12th, .978), earned run average (29th, 1.86), slugging percentage (35th, .498) and scoring (36th, 5.90 runs per game).
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant