May 9, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame freshman Caitlyn Brooks has remained one of the essential components at the heart of the Irish lineup throughout the 2016 softball season, regularly hosting powerful hitting displays in her first collegiate softball campaign. A stellar three-game set with NC State in the closing Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) series of the season netted the Notre Dame designated player the year’s final ACC Player of the Week award on Monday.
The player of the week accolade was the first career ACC weekly honor for Brooks, and the fifth overall conference weekly award claimed by a Notre Dame player this season. Brooks joined classmate Melissa Rochford (March 14) and sophomore Bailey Bigler (April 18) as prior ACC Player of the Week honorees in 2016, while senior Allie Rhodes was a two-time (March 7 and April 18) recipient of the ACC Pitcher of the Week award.
A Notre Dame player has now won the final conference player or pitcher of the week award of a given season three times in the four years, split between the BIG EAST Conference and the ACC. 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. Koerner and Winter were Notre Dame’s final weekly award winners in the BIG EAST, also sweeping that conference’s final voting on May 6, 2013.
Brooks was the most difficult hitter to retire during a Notre Dame series win against NC State that featured 44 combined runs between the teams. The Burbank, California native finished with a .667 batting average in nine official at-bats, clocking five extra base hits that included four doubles and one home run, to go along with seven RBI and three runs scored. Brooks also slugged 1.444 for the weekend and drew three walks to reach base at a .750 clip.
Brooks played a vital role in keying a six-run Irish comeback in Saturday’s first game against NC State, connecting on a solo home run while adding two different two-run doubles to cap a 3-for-4 day with a walk, five RBI and two runs scored in a 15-14 slugfest. The five RBI by Brooks were the most thus far in a single game by a Notre Dame hitter in 2016. She added a 2-for-3 performance with a walk and a two-run double in the nightcap against the Wolfpack at Melissa Cook Stadium. Brooks successfully reached in two of three plate appearances in Sunday’s series finale, clocking her fourth double of the weekend and scoring a run in the first inning of a 4-0 Notre Dame shutout.
Brooks is the Notre Dame leader with 11 home runs, a .693 slugging percentage and 97 total bases during her freshman season, adding 12 doubles and 52 RBI in 47 games (46 starts).
Notre Dame is set to begin play at the 2016 ACC Softball Championship on May 12, facing Virginia Tech in the fourth and final game of the quarterfinal round of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. (ET) from the Dail Softball Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. The contest will be broadcast live on the Regional Sports Network.
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
Caitlyn Brooks -- May 9
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.