March 28, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame vs. Eastern Michigan
March 29, 2017
Melissa Cook Stadium
Notre Dame, Indiana
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(16-13 in 2017)
Eastern Michigan Eagles
(12-14 in 2017)
Notre Dame Weekly Schedule
Wednesday, March 29
Notre Dame vs. Eastern Michigan - 5 p.m. (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Saturday, April 1
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville - Noon (ET)/ACC Network Extra
Sunday, April 2
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville - 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU
Monday, April 3
Notre Dame at #RV Louisville - 7 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A five-game homestand for the University of Notre Dame softball team officially draws to a close this week, as the Irish play host to Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium. The 5 p.m. (ET) first pitch on Wednesday will air live on ACC Network Extra.
Irish Slap Hits Notre Dame has amassed a 1,162-507-3 (.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 increased its current winning streak to four games with a conference sweep of Virginia Tech on March 24-25. The Irish outscored the Hokies 24-6 during the weekend set, outhitting Virginia Tech 36-16 on their way to posting a .450 team batting average.
In Friday's nightcap against Virginia Tech, senior outfielder/captain Karley Wester became the all-time Notre Dame softball hits leader by notching her 285th career base hit in the first inning against the Hokies as part of a 4-for-4 game (her fourth career four-hit game at Notre Dame) with two runs scored. Wester, already the Irish softball career runs leader, also became the eighth Notre Dame baseball/softball player to score 200 or more career runs by touching the plate during the fourth inning of game two.
Sophomore infielder Melissa Rochford batted a team-high .667 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored during the series sweep of Virginia Tech. Rochford also walked twice and was hit by pitch twice, reaching base at an astounding .800 clip for the weekend.
Four different Notre Dame players, Karley Wester, senior outfielder/infielder Kimmy Sullivan, sophomore outfielder Ali Wester and junior infielder Sara White, each batted an even. 500 over three games in the series with Virginia Tech. Sullivan posted a team-high six RBI for the weekend, and tied Ali Wester by scoring four runs against the Hokies.
Each of the 11 Notre Dame position players that registered at least one official at-bat against Virginia Tech finished the weekend with a hit. Karley Wester, Kimmy Sullivan and Ali Wester each posted five hits, while Melissa Rochford, Sara White and freshman infielder Katie Marino added four hits apiece.
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.
Irish Sweep Virginia Tech To Stay Hot At HomeMuch as the recipe for success was in a day one doubleheader, Notre Dame returned to what it knows best during the finale of an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series with Virginia Tech. Aggression. The Irish scored seven unanswered runs on their way to a 9-4 win over the Hokies on Saturday to cap the conference three-game sweep at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Since the stadium officially opened its doors during the 2008 season, Notre Dame has compiled a 140-24-1 (.852) record in home games following the series finale victory over Virginia Tech. The Irish have averaged 15 wins per season at Melissa Cook Stadium during that span, topping out with 20 victories in 2015.
K. Wester Stands Alone On ND All-Time Hits ChartIn Friday's nightcap against Virginia Tech, senior captain Karley Wester became the all-time Notre Dame softball hits leader by notching her 285th career base hit in the first inning as part of a 4-for-4 game (her fourth career four-hit game at Notre Dame) with two runs scored. Wester, the active career hits leader in NCAA softball with 289 entering Wednesday's game against Eastern Michigan, surpassed the Notre Dame hits record set by fellow two-time All-American Megan Ciolli ('05, 284) in 2005.
Coming across as the lead run on a four-base error that began with sister Ali at the plate against Mercer on March 15, Wester officially scored for the 197th time at Notre Dame to eclipse the career runs record previously held by Irish softball's only three-time All-American Emilee Koerner ('15). Teammates in 2014 and 2015, the elder Wester and Koerner are more than 30 runs clear of Brown and her third place run total of 166.
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 earlier this season.
With a successful swiped bag in the top of the third inning against No. 4/5 Oklahoma on Feb. 25, Wester passed Sollmann for second place on the all-time Notre Dame stolen bases list with her 102nd steal. She sits just seven career steals shy of eclipsing Stanley's Irish benchmark with 110 stolen bases in 126 attempts.
Irish Offense Explodes During Opening HomestandOver the first four home games of the 2017 season, Notre Dame has remained red hot at the plate inside Melissa Cook Stadium. Irish players are batting a combined .456 as a team inside their friendly confines, outscoring opponents 35-9 during the current four-game winning streak.
All nine regular Notre Dame starters are batting .250 or above in home games this season, with seven hitters currently at .385 and above during the home slate. Along with 15 walks and being hit by pitch five times, the Irish have compiled a .536 on-base percentage over the past four games.
Marino On The Mark At Melissa CookAfter four career games at Melissa Cook Stadium, infielder Katie Marino appears to be quite at home in a Notre Dame uniform. The Irish newcomer is batting an even .500 with two doubles, four RBI and three runs scored during the current homestand, which included a sweep of Virginia Tech last weekend.
Marino saved some of her most brilliant play for the defensive side of the diamond during her home debut against Michigan State on March 22. She made three standout plays at second base during the run-rule win over the Spartans, one of which was featured on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays.
Ali Adding Up The HitsFollowing a 7-for-13 (.538) week at the plate to open her 2017 offensive account at Melissa Cook Stadium, Ali Wester has assumed the Notre Dame team lead with 40 hits this season. The sophomore outfielder also paces the Irish with 11 multiple-hit games over her 29 starts, with two or more hits in five of her past eight appearances overall.
Along with her hits tally, Wester leads all Notre Dame players with 25 runs scored. She has also chipped in the team's second-best batting average, a clip of .381, entering Wednesday's game with Eastern Michigan.
KB Back In The Groove At HomeTwo home starts into her junior season, Katie Beriont has been in the driver's seat on the mound during Notre Dame's opening homestand. The Irish southpaw won both of her home starts last week, logging a 1.75 ERA against Michigan State and Virginia Tech. Beriont scattered eight hits in eight innings pitched last week but allowed only two earned runs, limiting opponents to one extra-base hit.
Irish Against The OppositionNotre Dame holds an 18-2 (.900) all-time series edge against Eastern Michigan, dating back to the first game between the teams in 1999. The Irish have won nine straight games against the Eagles since 2008, outscoring Eastern Michigan by a cumulative 80-14 run count in those games.
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.