May 12, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Seven Notre Dame softball players earned all-BIG EAST Conference recognition and junior Jody Valdivia was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, as announced during the regular season league banquet Wednesday evening at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville. The seven honors matched Notre Dame's 2009 post-season output and brought the program's total to 100 all-conference honorees since joining the league in 1996.
Christine Lux, Katie Fleury, Alexa Maldonado and Valdivia were each named to the first team while Dani Miller, Heather Johnson and Brianna Jorgensborg earned second-team nods. It was the first all-league citation for both Johnson and Maldonado, as the Irish roster now boasts eight players with at least all-BIG EAST honor.
A right-handed pitcher from Anaheim Hills, Calif., Valdivia finished the regular season with a school-record 35 wins. Her 255 strikeouts rank fourth in a single-season for an Irish pitcher as she totaled 18 shutouts (including a school-record 15 solo) in the regular season. She posted a 16-1 mark from the circle in BIG EAST play, the second-highest win total in league history. Valdivia has won 26 of her last 27 regular season league decisions, the best two-season stretch in league history. Valdivia led the BIG EAST with a 1.34 ERA and 93 strikeouts in league play. Her first career no-hitter came at Seton Hall (March 27) and she was a four-time recipient of the league's Pitcher of the Week honor this season.
Valdivia is the first Irish pitcher since Steffany Stenglein to be named the league's top tosser. Stenglein won it twice (2004 and 2005) after Jennifer Sharron was a four-time recipient of the award (1998-2001).
Lux, a third team All-American in 2009, was named first team all-BIG EAST last season and third team in 2008. The senior first baseman is Notre Dame's single-season (16) and career (49) leader in home runs. She is the program's all-time leader in putouts (1,523), second in RBI (169) and third in fielding pct. (.992). On the league scene, Lux is the only player in BIG EAST history to record 60+ runs, 80+ hits and 60+ RBI in a career. The Glendale Heights, Ill., native has left her mark in the BIG EAST record book for career RBI (1st - 66), home runs (t-1st - 24), runs scored (3rd - 61), walks (t-7th - 33) and doubles (t-8th - 17). Her current slugging pct. (.816) is good for the best mark in Notre Dame history, shattering the previous school-best she set in 2009 (.695).
Fleury was a third team all-BIG EAST performer as a freshman in 2008. With a .488 on-base pct. in 2010, the San Jose, Calif., junior shortstop holds claim to the single-season school record in that category. Fleury is first among BIG EAST players with a .460 batting average in league play, while ranking second with a .561 on-base pct. and eight doubles. She is the only Irish player with 50+ hits, 50+ runs and 25+ RBI. Fleury ranks second in school history with 51 single-season runs.
The all-BIG EAST citation is the first for Johnson, who was part of the league's all-tournament team in 2009. Johnson is the Notre Dame single-season record holder in RBI (66) and home runs (tied with Lux at 16). Her slugging pct. of .766 is currently second all-time in a single season for a Notre Dame performer. Johnson led all BIG EAST players with 31 RBI and three sacrifice flies in league action. The Los Alamitos, Calif., senior third baseman finished four games with three RBI, three games with four RBI and one game with five RBI this season. She led the Irish with 18 multi-RBI contests and enjoyed a season-best 12-game hitting streak.
Maldonado, a sophomore outfielder from Short Hills, N.J., was solid across the board with eight doubles, five triples and five home runs for a .344 batting average and .608 slugging pct. What makes her accomplishments more remarkable is the fact that she boosted those numbers from a freshman year that saw her hit .207 with a .284 slugging pct. Maldonado's best BIG EAST series came when she notched five hits in five trips to the plate, hit for the cycle on the day, drove in four runs, scored four more, ended game two with a three-run dinger, and set new career single-game highs in hits (three) and RBI (three) in a doubleheader with Villanova (April 24).
Miller, a sophomore, was a BIG EAST first-teamer in 2009 and in 2010 became first player in Notre Dame history to post double-digit home run totals in her first two years with the program. She is tied for ninth on the program's all-time home run chart (21). After converting from the outfield to second base this season, the Huntington Beach, Calif., righty has not committed an error in 75 chances. Miller has 11 multi-hit and nine multi-RBI contests in 2010.
Hailing from Thousand Oaks, Calif., Jorgensborg was a second team choice as a freshman in 2008. Similar to her 2008 campaign, the outfielder turned on the green light when it counted the most for the Irish. Jorgensborg batted .194 with a .306 slugging clip in non-conference affairs but posted a .356 batting average and an eye-popping .889 slugging pct. versus league foes. Five of her six home runs came in league play.
No. 24 Notre Dame, the co-regular season champion and second-seeded team heading into the BIG EAST Conference Tournament, will face seventh-seeded Providence at 4:00 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Louisville's Ulmer Stadium.
2010 BIG EAST Softball Awards