May 8, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team will try to win its seventh and final BIG EAST Conference Championship this weekend when it travels to compete at the BIG EAST Championship in Tampa, Fla. The new USF Softball Stadium, which opened in 2011, will host the conference tournament for the first time.
The Irish, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, won 15 of their last 17 games to close the regular season with a 41-12 record, 19-3 in BIG EAST play. Notre Dame earned a pair of hard-fought victories over then No. 9 Louisville last weekend at Melissa Cook Stadium, defeating the Cardinals 5-4 and 3-1 to clinch the 13th BIG EAST regular season championship in program history.
Notre Dame is 33-18 (.647) all-time in the BIG EAST Championship, and has won the tournament on six different occasions, including four times in the last 12 seasons. Head coach Deanna Gumpf is 23-10 (.697) all-time in BIG EAST Championship play.
Live video from the first and second round matchups at the BIG EAST Championship will be available on BIGEAST.tv. Saturday’s championship final will be carried live on ESPN2.
For updates throughout the weekend, follow the Irish on Twitter @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf.
No. 1 Seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(41-12, 19-3 BIG EAST)
2013 BIG EAST Championship Schedule
No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 8 Seton Hall - Thursday, 12:30 p.m./BIGEAST.tv
BIG EAST Semifinal - Friday, 4 p.m./BIGEAST.tv
BIG EAST Championship - Saturday, 4 p.m./ESPN2
IRISH SLAP HITS
• Notre Dame won two of three games over No. 9 Louisville last weekend to win the BIG EAST Conference regular season championship in its final season in the league.
• Notre Dame claimed 13 BIG EAST regular season championships in 18 seasons as a conference member. Head coach Deanna Gumpf led the Irish to seven regular season titles in the last 12 seasons. Notre Dame also clinched the number one overall seed in this weekend’s BIG EAST Championship with the series triumph.
• Laura Winter earned her second national player of the week accolade this season Tuesday, taking home Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week honors. Winter was 4-0 with a 1.75 ERA and batted .533 with three home runs and six RBI last week to pace the Irish.
• USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist Emilee Koerner led the BIG EAST Conference during the regular season with a .479 batting average, including a league-best .492 in conference play. Koerner also had the BIG EAST’s top slugging percentage (.847) and on-base percentage (.545), along with the most doubles (21), hits (78) and total bases (138).
• Emilee Koerner and Laura Winter swept the final 2013 BIG EAST Conference weekly softball awards Monday. Koerner was tabbed as the BIG EAST Player of the Week for the third time this season, while Winter copped her third BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week honor. Notre Dame players claimed a total of 14 weekly conference awards during the regular season, including four player of the week and three pitcher of the week accolades. The Irish racked up an additional seven combined BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll citations.
• Head coach Deanna Gumpf became the third softball/baseball coach (joining Jake Kline and Paul Mainieri) to win 500 games at Notre Dame earlier this season after an 11-1 victory over Connecticut in game two of an April 23 doubleheader.
• 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 1,018-450-3 (.692).
What A Great Run
Notre Dame completed its run as one of the most successful regular season teams in BIG EAST history last weekend against No. 9 Louisville, winning its 296th and 297th regular season conference games since joining the conference in 1996. The win total is against just 53 losses in that span, a .849 winning percentage.
Along with the Irish clinching the 13th BIG EAST regular season championship in program history, the team also ensured its 15th 40-win season in 25 years of competition. In fact, head coach Deanna Gumpf has led Notre Dame to 40 or more victories in nine of her 12 seasons at the helm of the Irish, including each of the past five campaigns.
Winter Has Arrived In May
The standout season for Notre Dame ace Laura Winter continues to roll along. The Irish junior, who was named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week on Tuesday, became the first player in program history to win each of the universally recognized national player of the week awards.
Winter, who was tabbed as the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week April 15, was a standout on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame last week. Winter logged a 4-0 record in the circle and a 1.75 ERA in four appearances. She continued her torrid pace at the plate, leading Notre Dame with a cumulative .533 batting average (8-for-15) and three home runs, six RBI, four runs scored, a 1.200 slugging percentage and a .563 on-base percentage.
Winter was a combined 4-for-8 against No. 9 Louisville, smashing a solo home run in Saturday’s game two. Winter added a pair of singles, including an RBI base hit in the first inning, and scored one of the deciding runs to help lead Notre Dame to a 3-1 win over the Cardinals that clinched the BIG EAST regular season championship.
Emi For All-America
Sophomore outfielder Emilee Koerner rarely wavered at the plate during the 2013 regular season, and the results of her outstanding hitting acumen are evident on the stats sheet.
Koerner led all BIG EAST players, and all but two counterparts nationally, with a .479 batting average in 53 starts. She also posted conference season-highs with 78 hits, 21 doubles, a .847 slugging percentage and a .545 on-base percentage.
Koerner reached base safely in each of the season’s first 29 games, and wound up on base in a remarkable 48 of 53 contests. She is currently the Notre Dame career leader in batting average (.403) and slugging percentage (.658) entering the BIG EAST Championship.
Two Outs, No Problem!
While conventional wisdom says to become more selective with two outs on the scoreboard, the Notre Dame offense has thrived with two away this season, connecting on 134 of the team’s 455 total hits (.298 batting average).
Emilee Koerner is batting a team-high .476 (20-for-42) during plate appearances with two outs, while 24 of Cassidy Whidden’s 28 RBI have come with the Irish facing the final out of an inning.
How The Irish Stack Up Nationally
Notre Dame enters the BIG EAST Championship ranked in the top 50 of eight different statistical categories in NCAA Division I softball.
The Irish have the 16th-best winning percentage nationally after posting a 41-12 (.774) regular season record. The Irish won 15 of their final 17 games on the way to the BIG EAST regular season championship.
The squad ranks 18th in both batting average (.322) and doubles per game (1.51) through 53 games. Notre Dame stands in second place in the BIG EAST in each category behind Louisville.
The Irish are 19th in the country in slugging percentage, currently sitting with a .518 clip. Emilee Koerner is 18th individually with a .847 slug.
On the strength of a BIG EAST-low 39 errors on more than 1,400 chances in the field, Notre Dame checks in at No. 20 with a .972 fielding percentage. The Irish error total is also among the 20 lowest in the NCAA.
Notre Dame is also ranked 26th in home runs per game (1.09), 28th in scoring (5.87 runs per game) and 37th in team ERA (2.26).
Hit Parade For Everyone
Every position player on the Notre Dame roster finished the 2013 regular season with at least one base hit to her credit. It was the first time each player with at least one official at-bat logged a hit since 2010.
The .322 Irish team batting average would be the third highest in a single season in program history.
Looking To Go Out On Top
The top seeded Irish bring a 33-18 (.647) all-time mark in BIG EAST Championship tournament play into their final appearance in the conference draw.
Notre Dame has won the BIG EAST Championship on six different occasions: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2009.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf is one tournament title from tying NFCA Hall of Famer Liz Miller’s program record of five.
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 .692 all-time winning percentage (1,018-450-3).
Head coaches Brian Boulac (1989-92, 135-90-2), Liz Miller (1993-2001, 377-156) and Deanna Gumpf (2002-present, 506-204-1) have been credited with all 1,018 team wins. Notre Dame has averaged over 40 wins per season (40.72) during its 25-year history.
#500 For Gumpf
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf became the first Notre Dame softball head coach to record 500 career victories (506-204-1, .712) with a two-game sweep of Connecticut April 23.
Gumpf’s squads have averaged more than 42 wins 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.