Irish Head To Louisville For BIG EAST Championship

Notre Dame takes on St. John's to open the BIG EAST Championship on May 7.

May 6, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A 19-4 BIG EAST Conference regular-season record tagged Notre Dame as the league's second-seeded team as the Irish head to Louisville to take on St. John's Thursday at 4:00 p.m. (ET) in the first round of the 2009 BIG EAST Softball Championship.

This will be first ever matchup between Notre Dame and St. John's in the BIG EAST Championship. The Irish and Red Storm split this season's doubleheader as Notre Dame used back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh to capture game two. Notre Dame is 8-5 in BIG EAST Conference Championship openers.

Louisville's Ulmer Stadium will host the 2009 BIG EAST Softball Championship. The league's top eight teams participate in the three-day, single-elimination event set to begin on May 7. The winner of the BIG EAST Championship will earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

The BIG EAST Conference has sponsored the BIG EAST Softball Championship since 1990. Notre Dame has won the league championship title five times since joining the conference in 1996. Overall, Notre Dame has won 100 BIG EAST titles with the latest coming last week as the men's outdoor track & field team captured the top trophy for the second consecutive season.

Two of Notre Dame's most notable tournaments occurred in Salem, Va. In 2002, the Irish rallied from a first-day loss to win four straight games to claim the tournament title in Deanna Gumpf's first season as head coach. The next season the Irish utilized a walk-off home run by Andrea Loman in the bottom of the ninth inning against Villanova to capture their second straight league title. Bolstered by that home run, Loman became the third BIG EAST player to earn the tournament's Most Outstanding Player trophy two times (UConn's Bridgett McCaffery and Janna Venice also earned two awards) and joined McCaffery as just the second BIG EAST player to claim the award in back-to-back tournaments. Behind the strong pitching of senior hurler Heather Booth in 2006, the Irish won their three tournament games over Providence, Pittsburgh and No. 18 Louisville by the combined score of 10-1 to earn the title. Booth started and threw complete games in each of three contests of the tournament, including a one-hit shutout over the Cardinals in the championship game. For her efforts, Booth was named the 2006 Most Outstanding Player. Notre Dame defeated Connecticut and No. 12 DePaul in the 2007 league tournament held in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame comes off a split with No. 18 Louisville last Sunday.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish
38-15 overall / 19-4 BIG EAST
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BIG EAST Championship
University of Louisville • Ulmer Stadium
Louisville, Ky. • May 7-9
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One-Hitters ...
• Notre Dame is receiving votes in the latest NFCA Top 25 poll ... it is the fifth time this season the Irish have received votes in the poll.
Christine Lux tied her single-season school record last week by hitting her 15th home run of the season ... she is also tied for third with 50 RBI ... Dani Miller has hit a Notre Dame freshman-record 10 home runs this season ... nine hitters have belted multiple home runs and five Irish players have hit at least 10 doubles.
• Notre Dame continues to litter the national statistical rankings: batting average (.305 / 27th), ERA (2.02 / 33rd), runs per game (5.51 / 25th), win-loss pct. (.717 / 30th), home runs per game (1.19 / 12th), doubles per game (1.45 / 28th) and slugging pct. (.516 / 12th) ... individually, Brittney Bargar is 29th with eight shutouts while Christine Lux is 31st with a .755 slugging pct. and 15th with 15 home runs ... Heather Johnson ranks 12th overall with four sacrifice flies.
• Last Sunday's doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium versus No. 18 Louisville drew a record crowd of 1,246 fans ... it was the highest total in the facility's history.
Brittney Bargar needs one more appearance to tie Heather Booth (167) on the school's all-time list ... she has also tossed 897.0 innings, just shy of Booth's record of 901.1.

Jammin' With Jody ...
After starting the season with a 2-5 record, Jody Valdivia has been victorious in each of her last 15 decisions to carry a 17-5 slate into the BIG EAST Championship ... she was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week this past Monday after picking up three league wins over the past several days ... Valdivia's three conference wins improved her league record to a perfect 10-0 ... Valdivia struck out at least 10 batters in two of the Fighting Irish's four games last week, notching 11 at Georgetown (May 1) and 10 at Providence (April 30) ... in her 21.2 innings of work, she allowed only six earned runs for a 1.94 ERA ... Valdivia collected 28 strikeouts on the week, including the only two batters she faced in relief of game one against Louisville (May 3) ... she has 155 strikeouts in 144.2 innings with one save and three shutouts on the year.

The Home Run Queens ...
One long-standing Irish record has already fallen ... previously, the Irish hit 54 home runs in 61 games in 2002 to top the school charts ... Notre Dame now has 63 home runs through 53 games this season ... of the 2009 total, only one of those home runs was hit during the first three weeks of the season, and seven games were called off earlier in the year due to rain ... 19 games have been marked by multiple home runs, with a season-high four coming against both Northern Illinois (April 1) and Connecticut (April 11).

Run Baby, Run ...
Notre Dame (292) has scored well over twice as many runs as its opponents (142) this season, while outscoring BIG EAST teams by a whopping 142-60 margin.

Check the Numbers ...
Notre Dame is 31-0 when recording more hits than the opposition ... Notre Dame has won 16 of its last 18, and 28 of its last 32 ... the Irish have posted respective winning streaks of nine and 10 games this season.

Double Digits ...
Eighteen games have seen more than two Irish home runs leave the park this season ... in five games the Irish pounded out 10+ RBI ... 11 games have seen Notre Dame crank out 10+ hits.

It's Always Miller Time ...
Dani Miller saw her 21-game hit streak come to an end two week ago against North Dakota State (April 22) ... previously, the last time she went hitless was a match against St. John's (March 22) ... two weeks ago she led Notre Dame with seven RBI and a .556 slugging pct. ... Miller's school-record 21-game hit streak is the longest of any BIG EAST player this season ... she also blasted a pair of home runs at Providence including her third grand slam of the season ... Miller added a career-high six RBI in game one against the Friars.

From Top To Bottom ...
Six starters have hit their way to batting averages greater than .300 ... Erin Marrone (.382) leads the pack in front of Beth Northway (.376) ... Christine Lux (.354), Heather Johnson (.350), Dani Miller (342) and Linda Kohan (.311) round out the crew ... Lux (.755) and Miller (.692) lead the team in slugging pct. ... Northway has a .500 on-base pct. from the lead-off spot.

Behind Brittney's Arm ...
Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week on April 20 ... she held BIG EAST opponents to just one earned run in 14.0 innings for the week ... Bargar went 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA including a shutout against league foes ... she struck out eight while surrendering just one hit for extra-bases ... in three overall appearances, Bargar posted a 0.33 ERA with a second shutout at Wisconsin ... she struck out eight Badgers in that midweek affair ... Bargar also walked just two batters in 21.0 innings.

Almost Perfect ...
Notre Dame softball team split an April 22 non-conference doubleheader with North Dakota State ... the 2-1 game-one loss was the first home non-BIG EAST Conference defeat for the Irish since 2007, breaking a 14-0-1 (10-0-1 at Melissa Cook Stadium, 4-0 at Ivy Field) streak for Notre Dame ... the Irish were previously a perfect 8-0 on their turf for the season against non-conference foes.

Streak Ends, Streak Begins ...
A two-run dandy by Linda Kohan against North Dakota State in game two of the April 22 doubleheader snapped a three-game homerless streak for Notre Dame ... it was the longest drought without a home run since the second week of the season.

Badgered Seven Times ...
Notre Dame got seven hits from seven different players during the second game of a doubleheader at Wisconsin (April 14).

Spearing the Crusaders ...
Three different Notre Dame players homered against Valparaiso (April 9) as the Irish swept the Crusaders by scores of 11-0 and 17-9 ... Dani Miller jacked two home runs - including her second grand slam of the season - to bring her season total to six, and Linda Kohan delivered a game-one home run that gave the senior six round trippers on the year ... it was Kohan's third home run in as many games ... a pair of home runs in game two by Christine Lux brought her career total to 30 and tied her for fourth on the school's all-time list ... the 17 runs in game two marked a season high and was one score shy of the school-record 18 set against Robert Morris in 1994 ... Brittney Bargar tossed a one-hitter to start the day and did not allow a single walk ... after a first-inning Valparaiso single, Bargar retired 18 straight batters and recorded seven strikeouts along the way ... Notre Dame recorded 16 hits in game two.

Sharing With Demons ...
One of the best BIG EAST Conference softball rivalries got better after an April 8 doubleheader with DePaul ... the Irish and Blue Demons exchanged a number of blows before splitting the twinbill at Melissa Cook Stadium ... Christine Lux had five hits across the two games with a pair of home runs including a game-one shot that cleared the right field fence and landed on Twyckenham Drive, a 334-foot shot that would have sailed the right field fence at Frank Eck Stadium, the home of Notre Dame's baseball team ... both Lux and Linda Kohan sent home runs out of the park in each of the two games as the teams combined for eight home runs on the day.

Homering the Huskies ...
Speaking of home runs, the Irish hit three in one inning against Northern Illinois ... Linda Kohan, Heather Johnson and Katie Fleury homered in the fourth inning to spark an Irish scoring fest of nine unanswered runs ... it was the third time Notre Dame recorded three home runs in one inning, with the first two occurring in 2008 ... Kohan, Fleury and Christine Lux homered in the same inning during a home game versus Wisconsin (April 16) and the same trio duplicated the feat exactly one month later in an NCAA Tournament bout with Kent State ... the last time Notre Dame hit four home runs in a single game was against the Badgers last season.

Northway Slugs Way On Top of BIG EAST ...
Senior Beth Northway was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week on March 30 ... the designated player earned the honor after her consistent bat helped the Irish run their winning streak to seven games with three conference wins at Georgetown (March 28) and USF (March 29) ... Northway came through in pinch-hitting duties for Notre Dame with nine hits in 16 at-bats as the Irish posted a 6-0 record for the week ... Northway hit for a .562 batting average with a 1.125 slugging percentage in the six contests, including a pair of home runs and three doubles ... she had four multi-hit games, scoring seven runs and collecting seven walks ... Northway connected for four hits in seven at-bats at USF to help Notre Dame secure its first ever sweep of the Bulls ... at the time of the honor, Northway's .500 batting average in league play was tied for sixth overall among BIG EAST batters while her 1.200 slugging percentage tied for first ... the Kentwood, Mich., native began the 2009 campaign as a nonstarter and has emerged as one of the Irish's most productive hitters this season ... after her sophomore season she underwent shoulder surgery and converted her throwing technique from right- to left-handed.

Rising From the Pacific ...
Seven unanswered runs helped Notre Dame dig itself out of an early 3-0 deficit to post a 7-3 victory over Pacific in the second day of the Judi Garman Classic ... Christine Lux, Katie Fleury and Beth Northway each homered as Notre Dame recorded nine hits in the contest ... Brittney Bargar got the complete-game win with five strikeouts while giving up six hits, and the Irish defense stood strong to help strand seven Tigers on base.

Booming the Sooners ...
Notre Dame downed No. 9 Oklahoma, 4-3, on the opening day of the Judi Garman Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton ... the Irish sat on a 3-1 lead but committed three errors in the top of the seventh, though Oklahoma saved its lone error for the bottom of the seventh to help give Notre Dame the win ... the victory was Notre Dame's first against a top-10 opponent since downing No. 5 Tennessee in 2005.

Extra Jorgensborg, Please ...
Brianna Jorgensborg was named the BIG EAST Conference softball player of the week on March 9 ... Jorgensborg put together one of the most prolific slugging stretches in Notre Dame history at the UNLV Invitational and finished the four-game invite with a 1.889 slugging pct. which came courtesy of three triples and two home runs in nine at-bats ... her .556 batting average led Notre Dame throughout the weekend ... Jorgensborg tripled in three consecutive contests, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat in the 21-year history of the program ... she also had two home runs.

Holy Toledo!
In a home-opening doubleheader sweep against Toledo (w, 15-0 / w, 9-1): Notre Dame moved to 19-2 all-time in home openers, winning its last 12 ... the two losses came in 1992 and 1997 ... the Irish posted the most runs in a home opener (15) and the most runs in a doubleheader (24) since 2003 ... first back-to-back five-inning wins since 2004 ... first five-inning home opener ... first home opener at Melissa Cook Stadium ... Sadie Pitzenberger scored a career-high four runs in game one against Toledo ... Christine Lux had five hits - including two home runs and two doubles - to pace the Irish ... her 13 total bases yielded a single-day slugging average of 2.167 ... Dani Miller had two doubles and one home run in her home debut.

Holy, Holy Toledo!
Trailing by a 1-0 count in game two against Toledo, the Irish put up a nine-spot in the bottom of the fourth to secure the victory ... ironically, Notre Dame had scored a total of nine runs in the fourth inning of its last 19 games combined, doubling that output against the Rockets ... the Irish scored seven runs in a single inning against Sacramento State (Feb. 21) earlier this season ... last year, Notre Dame scored nine runs in one inning against Charleston Southern (March 14) only to score 10 - tying the school record - in the third frame during a rematch with the Buccaneers one day later.

Been Around the World ...
An 18-game road trip that included stops in four states (Alabama, California, North Carolina and Nevada) and featured six ranked opponents came to an end against Toledo on March 18 ... since starting the season at No. 1 Alabama, Notre Dame has faced No. 5 Stanford, No. 5 UCLA, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 12 Arizona and No. 6 Arizona State.

Three Times As Nice ...
UC Santa Barbara (March 8) had two runners on base in its half of the seventh when Tiffany Wright flew out to Alexa Maldonado in center field, who started the first leg of a triple play by throwing to Katie Fleury at second who relayed the favor to Christine Lux at first to end the game in not-so-routine fashion ... it was the first triple play in Notre Dame history.

Maldonado In Palo Alto ...
First-year outfielder Alexa Maldonado had her coming-out party at Stanford's Nike Invitational ... after not recording a single hit in her first four games with the Irish, Maldonado went 5-for-10 with a pair of multi-hit affairs against Stanford and Sacramento State ... she scored a pair of runs and hit two triples over the four-game stretch at The Farm.

Flying Past the Hornets ...
Notre Dame's offense exploded during a Feb. 21 affair versus Sacramento State ... in the 11-0 blanking of the Hornets, Notre Dame buzzed through with a seven-run seventh inning courtesy of six hits in the frame ... each of the six hits were singles ... last season, Notre Dame posted totals of 10 and eight runs in separate innings against Charleston Southern ... Heather Johnson had a career-high four hits in four at-bats and scored her first run of the season against Sacramento State ... she also drove home four scores.



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