March 24, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After its Wednesday doubleheader with Eastern Michigan was rained out, the Notre Dame softball team will now open its home season Friday with a 5:00 p.m. (ET) contest versus Northern Illinois. The Huskies (10-11) visit Notre Dame's home turf for just the second time in 15 years, as the two teams last met at Melissa Cook Stadium in 2009.
A face familiar to the program will be gracing the Northern Illinois dugout, as former two-time Irish All-American Megan Ciolli ('05) is in her third season as an assistant coach for the Huskies.
Complete coverage of the home opener at Melissa Cook Stadium - including live audio, blog and stats - will be available at UND.com.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(16-6 overall, 0-0 BIG EAST)
Northern Illinois Huskies
(10-11 overall, 0-0 Mid-American)
Series: Notre Dame leads, 9-5
Series streak: Notre Dame, W3
First meeting: April 7, 1992 - Notre Dame, 1-0 (8)
Last meeting: April 1, 2009 - Notre Dame, 11-4
First pitch: 5:00 p.m. (ET) Melissa Cook Stadium Notre Dame, Ind.
Live audio / chat / stats: UND.com
IRISH ALERT (text message updates): UND.com
Twitter: @und_com / @ndsoftball / @ndcoachgumpf
Following Wednesday's rainout against Eastern Michigan, Notre Dame's contest with Northern Illinois will serve as the true home opener for the 2011 campaign ... the Irish are 20-2 all-time in home openers (8-1 under head coach Deanna Gumpf).
The Irish are currently on a two-game skid heading into their home opener ... the team posted a program-record nine straight wins (Feb. 18-Feb. 27) to start the season, later followed by a six-game winning streak (March 5-March 16).
Last season's home opener: Nine runs in each of the two contests during the 2010 home doubleheader - which was also pitted the Irish against Eastern Michigan - provided enough offense for Notre Dame to sweep the twinbill by respective scores of 9-0 and 9-3 ... Christine Lux and Kristina Wright were each good for one home run and one double on the day, as half of Notre Dame's 22 hits went for extra bases (11 doubles, four home runs, one triple) ... Dani Miller and Heather Johnson contributed four RBI apiece, with Johnson's entire load coming in the first game ... Jody Valdivia (14-2) tacked on her 13th straight win from the circle in game one ... she needed 5.0 innings to toss the four-hit shutout.
Spring Break saw the Irish hit the West Coast for eight games, including six at the prestigious Judi Garman Classic ... after sweeping a doubleheader at Cal Poly, Notre Dame went 2-4 at the Judi Garman Classic ... that mark included a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Oklahoma, the first for Notre Dame over a top 10 opponent since 2009 ... that victory was also against (then) ninth-ranked Oklahoma during the same tournament.
With what is perhaps one of the most challenging non-conference schedules at this point of the season, Notre Dame has already faced four top 10 teams (No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Washington, No. 5 Michigan and No. 9 Oklahoma) ... the Irish were 1-3 against those squads.
Amy Buntin and Miller each posted 11-game hitting streaks earlier this season ... Brianna Jorgensborg and Johnson are currently riding four-game streaks.
The first round of NCAA stat rankings released Wednesday revealed that Laura Winter is eighth nationally in walks allowed / 7.0 IP (0.98) ... Shannon Kelly is t-23rd with two saves.
Notre Dame is in its 23rd season of varsity competition with an all-time record of 907-417-3 (.685) ... the program boasts 15 NCAA Championship appearances (12 consecutive) and six BIG EAST Conference Tournament titles, the latest coming in 2009.