April 18, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame sophomore outfielder Bailey Bigler and senior pitcher Allie Rhodes served as key components to an undefeated run through the last week of play for the Irish softball team. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) recognized the efforts of both Notre Dame standouts on Monday, naming Bigler the ACC Softball Player of the Week and Rhodes the ACC Pitcher of the Week.
The player of the week accolade was the first career ACC weekly honor for Bigler, while Rhodes was previously tabbed the conference's top pitcher on March 7. Bigler became the seventh Notre Dame selection as the ACC's top weekly player since the Irish joined the conference in 2014, while Rhodes' nod was the ninth such citation earned by a member of the Notre Dame pitching staff.
The dual awards marked the second time that Notre Dame has swept the weekly ACC softball honors in its three seasons as a conference member. Three-time All-American Emilee Koerner ('15) and four-time all-conference first team pitcher Laura Winter ('14) were the final ACC weekly award honorees of the 2014 campaign on May 5 of that year.
Bigler made a profound impact as the top Notre Dame hitter during a 4-0 week that included a three-game sweep at Virginia Tech, batting 6-for-9 (.667) against three-time ACC Pitcher of the Week Maggie Tyler, alone.
Bigler grooved a seventh-inning single down the left field line to score the game-winning run in a 3-0 shutout of Virginia Tech in Saturday's game one. The Newtown, Pennsylvania native continued the surge in the second game of the doubleheader, finishing 3-for-3 with two doubles, one triple, an RBI and two runs scored in the 7-5 Irish come-from-behind triumph.
The Notre Dame left fielder added a 2-for-3 performance with a game-winning RBI single and a run scored in Sunday's 5-3 win that completed the ACC sweep. Bigler also contributed five putouts and one assist from her post in the outfield, making three diving catches over the course of the series with Virginia Tech to ensure the Notre Dame sweep.
Bigler is the Irish leader with four triples through 38 games this season, adding a .386 batting average, six doubles, 19 RBI and 25 runs scored.
Rhodes was a stalwart in the circle for Notre Dame during the unbeaten week, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts. Opponents batted just .153 against Rhodes in 18 innings, scoring two runs (one earned) while striking out 24 times.
Rhodes opened the week with five shutout innings in a home win against Butler, scattering two hits and establishing a career-high with 12 strikeouts of the 19 batters she faced. The Kirkland, Washington native kept the shutout streak going into Saturday's first game of the ACC doubleheader at Virginia Tech, as Rhodes tossed a one-hit, seven-inning shutout that featured five strikeouts on 93 pitches.
The stellar performance extended into Sunday's series finale with the Hokies, which saw Rhodes yield one earned run (inherited runner of relief pitcher) on six hits with seven strikeouts against the Virginia Tech lineup.
Now a two-time ACC Pitcher of the Week choice in 2016, Rhodes is the Notre Dame leader with 15 wins, two saves, six total shutouts and 128 strikeouts in 117.2 innings pitched this season.
Notre Dame begins a brief two-game nonconference homestand against Western Michigan on Tuesday, with first pitch against the Broncos scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) on WatchND.
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.
2016 Notre Dame Softball Weekly Honorees
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Player of the Week
Bailey Bigler -- April 18
Melissa Rochford -- March 14
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Pitcher of the Week
Allie Rhodes -- April 18
Allie Rhodes -- March 7 (Co)
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 at Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.