April 16, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team embarks on a one-game midweek road trip Tuesday, traveling to Michigan State for a 5 p.m. game at Secchia Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.
The Irish (29-10) are 6-1 all-time against the Spartans (21-17), including a 7-1 victory last season at Melissa Cook Stadium (April 24, 2012). Notre Dame owns a 26-10 run differential over Michigan State, although Tuesday's game is only the second meeting between the schools since 1995.
Notre Dame claimed a three-game BIG EAST series sweep of Rutgers last weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium, winning a pair of contests on walk-off home runs. Freshman Casey Africano blasted a game-ending three-run shot in an 11-2 five-inning victory Saturday afternoon, before sophomore Cassidy Whidden capped a five-run Notre Dame comeback Sunday in the seventh inning with an improbable three-run blast (8-6 Irish win).
Fans can follow live stats for Tuesday's game via CBS GameTracker by visiting UND.com.
For updates throughout the day, follow the Irish on Twitter @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf.
Notre Dame at Michigan State
April 16, 2013
East Lansing, Mich.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Michigan State Spartans
(21-17 overall; ND leads all-time series 6-1)
Notre Dame Weekly Schedule
Notre Dame at Michigan State - Tuesday, 5 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame vs. Valparaiso - Thursday, 5 p.m. (ET)/UND.com
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh - Saturday, noon (ET)
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh - Saturday, 2 p.m. (ET)
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh - Sunday, noon (ET)
IRISH SLAP HITS
• Notre Dame swept Rutgers during the third annual Strikeout Cancer Weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium, winning 11-2 in five innings, 5-1 and 8-6 with a final-inning walk-off home run.
• The Irish won all three Strikeout Cancer games for the first time in the event's history. According to preliminary donation counts, Notre Dame is believed to have raised more than $30,000 last weekend.
• With its 8-2 game one win April 3 at Georgetown, Notre Dame won the 1,000th game in program history. In 25 seasons of competition, the Irish are a combined 1,006-448-3 (.691).
• For the fourth straight week, Emilee Koerner claimed the number one slot in individual batting average in the NCAA national statistics rankings. Koerner is currently hitting at a .504 clip. A USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist, Koerner also ranked third in doubles per game (0.44), 12th in slugging percentage (.893) and 13th in on-base percentage (.557) amongst Division I peers entering the week.
• Notre Dame opened the Rutgers series with only one walk-off win during the 2013 season (3-2, Northern Illinois, March 15). Casey Africano's fifth-inning home run in game one of the series (11-2) and Cassidy Whidden's three-run long ball in the seventh inning of Sunday's game three (8-6) surpassed that total in one weekend.
• Casey Africano received her first career BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll citation Monday. Africano was a key contributor in all three of Notre Dame's wins in its weekend series sweep of Rutgers at Melissa Cook Stadium, batting an even .500 (3-for-6) with two game-winning home runs, six RBI, three runs scored, and a team-best 10 total bases and 1.667 slugging percentage.
• Amy Buntin has reached base in a team-high 16 consecutive games. The 2012 All-American is batting .419 (18-for-43) with one home run, 15 RBI and 12 runs scored in her last 16 starts.
Notre Dame's 8-2 victory over Georgetown in game one April 3 was the 1,000th win in program history. The Irish needed only 1,449 games to reach the milestone, and have a .691 all-time winning percentage (1,006-448-3).
Head coaches Brian Boulac (1989-92, 135-90-2), Liz Miller (1993-2001, 377-156) and Deanna Gumpf (2002-present, 494-202-1) have been credited with all 1,006 team wins. Notre Dame has averaged just over 40 wins per season (40.24) during its 25-year history.
Whidden Rakes At The Dish
Cassidy Whidden has emerged as a dangerous power threat during her two seasons at Notre Dame, but the sophomore catcher's career statistics are even more telling.
Of Whidden's 20 hits as a member of the Irish, 10 are home runs, meaning an impressive rate of 50 percent of her safe hits have left the park. Whidden hit a two-out grand slam Saturday and a walk-off, two-strike, two-out home run Sunday against Rutgers.
Relive The Magical Bottom Of The 7th
A five-run deficit did not seem to faze Notre Dame in game two Sunday against Rutgers. Trailing the Scarlet Knights 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Irish embarked on a half-inning for the ages.
Laura Winter opened the Notre Dame seventh with a single down the left field line, and Casey Africano drew a 3-2 walk to move Winter into scoring position. A Rutgers wild pitch moved both runners to second and third base, respectively. Chloe Saganowich made the most of the opportunity, lacing a two-run single to left field to trim the deficit to 6-3.
A throwing error by Rutgers on a ground ball up the middle by Micaela Arizmendi allowed pinch runner Monica Torres to reach second base safely. Jenna Simon followed with a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position. Back-to-back RBI singles by Kelsey Thornton and Emilee Koerner closed the gap to just one run (6-5).
After Katey Haus reached on a fielder's choice, Scarlet Knight pitcher Alyssa Landrith took a 0-2 advantage in the count against Cassidy Whidden. On a pitch at the letters and outside, Whidden clubbed a deep three-run home run, sending Melissa Cook Stadium into a frenzy and securing an 8-6 Notre Dame comeback victory.
Twelve Games In 14 Days
Notre Dame is in the midst of playing a scheduled 12 games in 14 days, which began with the April 6-7 three-game BIG EAST series against Villanova. The stretch is the most congested part of the 2013 Notre Dame schedule, which also included the early season tournament slate.
Irish Up 6-1 All-Time On Sparty
Notre Dame is 6-1 all-time against Michigan State, including a 7-1 victory last season at Melissa Cook Stadium (April 24, 2012). The Irish own a 26-10 run differential over Michigan State, although Tuesday's game is only the second meeting between the schools since 1995.
Dani Miller and Lauren Stuhr each hit a home run, and a six-run Notre Dame third inning led the Irish to the 7-1 triumph last season. Brittany O'Donnell allowed one run in a complete game effort, striking out six Michigan State hitters.
Gumpf Nearing 500
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf is six wins away from becoming the first Notre Dame softball head coach to record 500 career victories (494-202-1, .709). Gumpf's squads have averaged over 41 wins (41.17) per season during her 12-year tenure at the helm of the Irish, and have won seven BIG EAST regular season and four tournament championships during that span.