May 7, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame softball team travels to College Park, Md., this weekend for its first ever appearance in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship. The three-day championship event will be held at the University of Maryland Softball Stadium from Thursday through Saturday, with the top eight finishers in the regular season conference standings taking part in the single-elimination tournament.
The second-seeded Irish will play in the third quarterfinal game of Thursday's opening day, taking on seventh-seed Boston College at 5 p.m. (ET) on the Regional Sports Network (RSN) and ESPN3. A Notre Dame victory would send the Irish into Friday's second tournament semifinal game, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. (RSN/ESPN3). The 2014 ACC Championship game will be contested on Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET), and will air live nationally on ESPN2.
No. 20 Notre Dame (37-10, 16-5 ACC) achieved its highest ranking in the national polls this season following a three-game sweep of Boston College last weekend in the final ACC regular season series of the year at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish have won 12 of their last 13 games, and 17 of their last 20 outings dating back to an 11-4 victory on April 1 over Ball State. Notre Dame has outscored its opponents by a combined run margin of 175-72 in those games.
The Irish have posted a 10-5 record this season against the seven other teams also in the ACC Championship field, including series wins over Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Boston College. Notre Dame split a pair of series with Florida State and North Carolina State at Melissa Cook Stadium earlier on in 2014.
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No. 20 Notre Dame at the ACC Championship
May 8-10, 2014
Maryland Softball Stadium (1,500)
College Park, Md.
No. 20 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, ACC Championship No. 2 Seed
(37-10 in 2014, 16-5 in the ACC)
Notre Dame ACC Championship Schedule
No. 20 Notre Dame (2) vs. Boston College (7) - Thursday, 5 p.m. (ET)/RSN, WatchESPN
ACC Championship Semifinal #2 - Friday, 3 p.m. (ET)/RSN, WatchESPN
ACC Championship Game - Saturday, 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPN2
IRISH SLAP HITS
• Notre Dame capped its first regular season in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with a 37-10 record (16-5 ACC) after sweeping Boston College last weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium.
• Notre Dame ended the regular season on a seven-game winning streak, and added victories in 17 of its final 20 games, to earn the number two seed in this week's ACC Championship.
• The Irish outscored Boston College, their opponent in Thursday's ACC Quarterfinal round, by a combined 29-13 run margin in the final regular season series of 2014 last weekend. Notre Dame has never lost its final conference series of a season during the program's 26-year history.
• Junior All-American Emilee Koerner and senior Laura Winter swept the final regular season weekly awards for the ACC on Monday, as Koerner was named conference player of the week, while Winter was honored as the league's pitcher of the week.
• Notre Dame finished the regular season as the national leader in batting average among all teams in the NCAA, posting a .367 team clip in the first 47 games of 2014. The Irish also lead all of Division I softball with 97 doubles (2.06 doubles per game), and rank second nationally in slugging percentage (.577) and fourth in runs per game (7.02) entering this week's ACC Championship.
• NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Top 25 finalist Karley Wester finished with the top regular season batting average in the ACC (.461) following a 5-for-14 (.357) final week against Maryland and Boston College. Along with the top batting average on the Notre Dame roster, Wester, a candidate for the ACC Freshman of the Year award, holds the Irish team lead in hits (71), triples (4), on-base percentage (.525) and stolen bases (25) in 2014.
• Senior captain Chloe Saganowich has emerged as one of the most consistent hitters in the Notre Dame lineup during the second half of the season. The Irish shortstop is batting .368 with four doubles, five home runs and 27 RBI in her past 24 starts, along with a cumulative .365 batting clip against non-conference opponents in 2014.
Irish Seeded Second In ACC Tourney
Notre Dame placed second in the ACC regular season standings during its inaugural campaign in the conference, following a three-game sweep of Boston College last weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish were selected third in the preseason ACC predicted order of finish, as voted on by conference head coaches.
After a 3-3 start to league play following a March 15-16 series at Virginia Tech to close Spring Break, Notre Dame posted a 13-2 mark the rest of the way, including a perfect 5-0 record on the road.
Strikeout Cancer Does It Again
Notre Dame softball's signature awareness initiative, Strikeout Cancer, began supporting leukemia awareness in 2011 in solidarity for Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf and her daughter, Tatum, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2010. Now an annual celebration, the proceeds directly benefit South Bend's Memorial Children's Hospital (where Tatum started her treatments) and children throughout Indiana who have been diagnosed with cancer.
In its fourth year of existence, Strikeout Cancer has raised more than $105,000 for children battling pediatric cancer, a figure that leads all teams nationwide that participate in the NFCA StrikeOut Cancer initiative. Funds raised have gone toward "wish trips" for cancer patients and two playrooms at South Bend's Memorial Children's Hospital.
The 2014 Strikeout Cancer festivities combined to raise more than $30,000 for the second straight year, with all proceeds going directly to local children battling pediatric cancer. Notre Dame also improved to 9-3 (.750) in the Strikeout Cancer series with its three wins against Maryland on April 27-28.
Irish Offense Spikes On ESPN
A total of six Notre Dame contests this season have appeared on the ESPN Family of Networks this following Monday night's win over Maryland on ESPNU. The Irish are 4-2 in games that has been seen on the Worldwide Leader with a cumulative .386 team batting average and a 43-17 aggregate run count in those games thus far in 2014.
Irish Still One Of The Nation's Best
In the most recent installment of the NCAA national statistical rankings for the 2014 season that was released on Monday, Notre Dame checked in as the number one team in the country with a .367 team batting average. It was the first time Notre Dame has assumed the national batting average lead since the Irish paced the NCAA with a .343 final average in 2010.
Notre Dame also held onto the top spot in the NCAA in doubles per game for the ninth straight week. Through 47 contests, the Irish have averaged 2.06 two-baggers per game to pace all of Division I softball, and remain the only program in the country averaging at least two doubles per contest. A team total of 97 doubles for the season from the Notre Dame lineup also leads the NCAA, to go along with the second-highest slugging percentage (.577) and fourth-most runs scored per game (7.02) nationally.
Junior All-American outfielder Emilee Koerner checks in as the ACC individual leader with 22 doubles. Koerner's leadoff double in the fifth inning last Saturday against Boston College surpassed her single-season program record of 21 set in 2013. The Tustin, Calif. native is tied with Katie Laing ('08) for the program record of 55 career two-baggers.
ACC Weekly Awards Sweep For Irish
Junior All-American Emilee Koerner and senior Laura Winter swept the final regular season weekly awards for the ACC on Monday, as Koerner was named conference player of the week, while Winter was honored as the league's pitcher of the week.
The player of the week citation for Koerner was her first ACC weekly honor earned during Notre Dame's inaugural season in the conference, and the fourth overall player of the week award the Irish center fielder has received in her career. Winter was named ACC Pitcher of the Week for the second straight week and third time overall this season. The Irish ace has now earned eight career conference pitcher of the week awards.
Westy A Finalist For Frosh Of The Year
In the inaugural season of the NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award, Notre Dame is represented by one of the most impactful newcomers in program history. Freshman outfielder Karley Wester was named one of the top 25 finalists for the new NFCA honor on April 17, immediately following her masterful 7-for-9 (.778) effort earlier in that week against No. 7/8 Florida State, who boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the country.
Wester became the first Notre Dame softball player to earn a weekly award from the ACC in the team's first season as a conference member, copping ACC Player of the Week honors on Feb. 17. Through 47 games, the Huntington Beach, Calif. native leads Notre Dame and the ACC with a .461 batting average, 71 hits and four triples, to go along with a .530 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases. Wester also has a team-high 21 multi-hit games, and had reached base in 22 straight contests prior to Sunday's series finale against Boston College.
Micaela Is Mashing
Sophomore Micaela Arizmendi, Notre Dame's leader with 55 RBI and 19 multi-RBI games in 2014, has hit a total of seven home runs in her past 15 starts. Arizmendi led all ACC players with nine home runs, 33 RBI and a 1.111 slugging percentage in 19 starts during conference play.
No Weak Spot In The Lineup
A total of 11 Notre Dame players who logged a minimum of 50 at-bats finished the 2014 regular season with a .285 batting average or higher. Six of nine usual Irish starters are batting above .320 entering the ACC Championship.
Irish In The ACC
Notre Dame officially opened its tenure in the ACC at Georgia Tech on March 8 after compiling a 297-53 record (.849) in the BIG EAST Conference, winning 13 regular-season and four tournament championship titles in 18 years. The Irish won the most BIG EAST games of any league team during that span.
Following last weekend's series sweep of Boston College at Melissa Cook Stadium, the Irish are now a combined 121-27 (.818) all-time against the current ACC membership.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 74-13 all-time against the other seven teams entered in this week's ACC Championship. The Irish are 10-5 in 2014 in games played against possible tournament opponents.