May 14, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The second-seeded Notre Dame softball team is set to face third-seeded Kent State in the opening game of the Ann Arbor Regional hosted by Michigan on Friday. This is the tenth consecutive season Notre Dame has earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and the 13th invitation overall for the program.
After rewriting the Irish single-season record books, first-team all-BIG EAST Conference pitcher Brittney Bargar will lead her crew from the circle while being flanked by six all-conference teammates. Bargar, who was joined on the first team by outfielder Sarah Smith, is among the nation's best tossers with a 1.18 ERA and 29 wins in 51 appearances.
Despite entering the tournament with a two-game skid the Irish are 11-8 all-time against teams in the Ann Arbor Region (Michigan, Kent State, Wright State). Each of the eight losses have been at the hands of the Wolverines. Notre Dame has never dropped a contest to Kent State (2-0) or Wright State (5-0). Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf is 10-12 in the NCAA Tournament and 1-1 against the three teams comprising this year's region with Notre Dame. The Irish are 18-24 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
The winner of the Ann Arbor Regional will match up with the team that rises from the Knoxville Regional, which includes Tennessee, Winthrop, Louisville and Virginia Tech.
Live stats will be available at UND.com throughout the tournament for each of Notre Dame's contests.
Friday, May 16
Saturday, May 17
Sunday, May 18
1:00 p.m. - Game 6: Winner G3 vs. Winner G5
Tickets will be sold on site each day of the tournament at both entrances to Alumni Field. There will be 50 seats behind each dugout designated for that respective team's fans during their game. At the end of each contest the area will be cleared and the next game's fans will occupy that space. This space will be clearly marked. Please contact Anne Deptula (University of Michigan Ticket Office) at 734.764.0247 for more information.
Prices: Grandstand Chairback Reserved ($8), Grandstand Bleacher Reserved ($7), Bleachers ($5)
The lot between Schembechler Hall and Yost Ice Arena (just east of Alumni Field) is readily accessible to the general public. Additional parking can be found near the track building, Canham Natatorium and the baseball stadium. Over flow parking is located at Elbel Field Band Lot located on Hill Street. The lot closest to the third base line at Alumni Field is reserved for handicap only.
From the East to Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor is located 30 minutes from Detroit. The Detroit Metro Airport is 25 miles east of Ann Arbor on I-94. From Detroit Metro, take I-94 West to State Street (exit 177). Take a right at the end of the exit ramp onto State Street (north). Kensington Court is on your left. The Four Points Sheraton and Holiday Inn & Suites are located on the right side of State Street on Boardwalk.
From the West to Ann Arbor: While traveling on I-94, take exit 177 to State Street. Turn right at the end of the ramp. Kensington Court is on your left. The Four Points Sheraton and Holiday Inn & Suites are located on the right side of State Street on Boardwalk.
From the Kensington / Four Points Sheraton / Holiday Inn & Suites to Alumni Field: Take State Street north for two miles. Pass two traffic lights and proceed under the Stadium Blvd. overpass. Go past Schembechler Hall (building with the large blue top). The next large brick building is Yost Ice Arena. Turn left into the Athletic Department lot immediately after Yost Ice Arena.
Catching Up With Kent State ... Kent State (44-10 overall, 20-2 Mid-American) earned an automatic tournament bid after winning the MAC Tournament ... they became the first program in six years to win both the MAC's regular season and tournament titles after blanking Ohio, 5-0 (May 11) ... Kent State's 44 victories are the most in school history and the most by a MAC team since 1986 ... the Ann Arbor Region's third-seeded squad is led by pitchers Gabrielle Burns (1.07 ERA) and Kyle Reynolds (1.23 ERA) ... the Irish have won each of the two games in the all-time series between the teams ... Notre Dame last matched up with the Flashes in 2003, posting a 5-1 win at the South Florida/Wilson Tournament in Tampa.
Measuring Michigan ... No. 6 Michigan is the fourth-seeded team overall in this year's NCAA Tournament and the top team in the Ann Arbor Regional ... the program is hosting its seventh consecutive regional tournament ... the Wolverines (48-6 overall, 18-2 Big Ten) open regional play against Wright State ... Michigan is 8-4 against Notre Dame and carries a four-game winning streak over the Irish ... Michigan is making its 14th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its 15th appearance overall ... the Wolverines boast their highest NCAA Tournament seeding since 2005 when they entered with the No. 1 overall spot before winning the national title ... they've claimed the No. 9 NCAA seeding each of the last two seasons ... in 2007, Michigan earned three straight victories - one against each regional opponent - en route to its third consecutive Super Regional appearance ... slugger Samantha Findlay has 21 homers this season which is the third top total in the nation ... her 63 RBI ranks second nationally ... Jordan Taylor (0.72) and Nikki Nemitz (0.85) sport an ERA that is ranked among the top-10 in the NCAA.
Wright State In Review ... Behind a two-hit shutout performance from tournament MVP Sharon Palma, Wright State won its second consecutive Horizon League championship with a win over Cleveland State (May 10) to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament ... fourth-seeded Wright State (33-24 overall, 13-7 Horizon) is making its third trip to the NCAAs in the last six seasons ... in 2003, the Raiders went to Ann Arbor and lost to DePaul, 8-0, before defeating Missouri ... they were eventually eliminated by Michigan ... the squad dropped a 3-0 contest to Notre Dame in the 2007 Evanston Regional ... outfielder Jherica Williams appears in 12 categories among the nation's statistical leaders including: RBI/game (1st - 1.28), batting average (2nd - .476), slugging percentage (2nd - .929) and on-base percentage (6th - .572) ... Jamie Perkins has recorded four saves from the rubber and sports a .385 batting average in the box ... shortstop Kristen Bradshaw is eighth nationally with 1.09 RBI/game and has five triples ... Palma has 18 wins this season, four of which came during last week's league tournament.
Seven Out of Nine Ain't Bad ... Seven of Notre Dame's nine starters earned all-league honors at the BIG EAST Conference's annual championship banquet ... the Irish had more selections than any other conference team, trailed by DePaul and South Florida who both placed five on the squad ... Notre Dame placed seven players on the all-conference team in 2004, 2002, 2000 and 1999 ... nine Irish athletes were part of the all-conference teams in 2005 and 2001.
All-BIG EAST First Team Brittney Bargar, Notre Dame, Jr., P Samantha Card, Pittsburgh, Jr., C Jessica Dignon, Pittsburgh, Sr., 3B Kit Dunbar, USF, Sr., OF Allie Gendron, Connecticut, Sr., DP Britta Giddens, USF, Jr., SS/2B Becca Heteniak, DePaul, So., P Jillian Ortega, Connecticut, Jr., IF Amber Patton, DePaul, Jr., 3B Sarah Smith, Notre Dame, Sr., OF Micah Truax, Connecticut, Jr., OF* Sandy Vojik, DePaul, Sr., Utility *unanimous selection
She Can Ball, and She's Smart, Too ... Second baseman Katie Laing was selected to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V softball team ... her name will now appear on the national ballot for a chance to be voted as an Academic All-American ... Laing is set to graduate with degrees in marketing and psychology this month as she sports an overall grade point average of 3.56 ... the honor was handed out just days before Laing set the school record for career assists (471) and the top single-season mark in the category (147) ... she currently has 50 hits and 50 RBI this season ... the RBI total is third all-time in a single campaign.
Strengthening the Strength of Schedule ... Six teams on Notre Dame's 2008 schedule were crowned champions of their respective conferences: Northwestern (Big Ten), Texas A&M (Big 12), Long Beach (Big West), Florida (Southeastern) and Campbell (Atlantic Sun) ... NCAA Regional opponents Wright State (Horizon) and Kent State (Mid-American) also earned league titles ... of the 64 NCAA Tournament participants, 14 were on the Irish slate: Florida (overall No. 1 seed), South Florida, California, Texas A&M, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Long Beach, Northwestern, DePaul, Campbell, Purdue, CS Fullerton and UCLA.
The South Bend 800 ... Notre Dame notched the 800th win in program history in a game-one win at Syracuse (May 4) with style ... junior pitcher Brittney Bargar blanked the Orange by tossing the fourth no-hitter of career and the 35th no-no recorded in 20 seasons of Irish softball.
Launches By Lux ... Christine Lux slammed a pair of solo homers in game two at Syracuse (May 4) ... her total of 14 in 2008 set a new single-season school record ... Notre Dame led the BIG EAST with 39 overall homers during the regular season, 22 of which were hit in conference games ... Lux had eight round-trippers against league foes, one short of the conference record.
Walk It Out ... Junior Linda Kohan has found her knack for getting on base with her patience at the plate ... entering the team's conference home opener, she had drawn more walks (20) than hits (19) recorded for an on-base percentage of .412 which led the team ... her 36 walks this season ties the school record set by Meagan Ruthrauff.
Senior Salute ... The Irish bid farewell to a pair of four-year players during Senior Day ceremonies held between games with Connecticut (April 27) ... Sarah Smith and Katie Laing helped Notre Dame post a 53-14-1 (.788) home record over the past four seasons ... the 11-3-1 home record in 2008, aided by a sweep over UConn, secured the 19th overall- and 16th consecutive - season the Irish have won at least 10 home games in a season ... the 1992 team was 9-1-1.
Double Slammy ... It only took 1,263 at-bats, but Notre Dame finally recorded a grand slam in the 2008 season when Ashley Ellis sent one over the fence in game one against Providence (April 26) ... Notre Dame had hit 31 homers before Ellis' bomb, with only five of those coming with more than one runner on base ... Ellis had five RBI in that contest to set a new career-high ... Katie Laing added the second grand slam of the season seven games later with a seventh-inning poke down the rightfield line at Syracuse (May 4) ... Laing tied a career high with four RBI in that game against the Orange, a feat she has accomplished three times this season.
Tale of Three Seasons ... The 2008 season started with Notre Dame winning seven of its first 15 games ... a 17-2 run soon followed and then Notre Dame went 13-10-1 over the last 24 contests ... the team has had winning streaks of seven and eight games, and has dropped at least two consecutive games on five occasions.
Where There's a Will, There's a Northway ... Junior Beth Northway had hits in eight of 10 games from April 20-29 ... three of those games were multi-hit affairs, capped off by a 3-for-3 day at Valparaiso (April 29) ... she batted .367 over that stretch to raise her overall average from .218 to .256.
The Bri Spree ... Freshman Brianna Jorgensborg had only one multi-hit game through 49 contests heading into an April 26 doubleheader with Providence ... she lit the Friars for two hits in three at-bats, then posted three hits including a home run one day later against UConn (April 27) ... Jorgensborg was also 2-for-3 with two RBI at Valparaiso (April 29).
Laing Hoists Hardware ... The Notre Dame Athletics Department held the seventh annual O.S.C.A.R.S (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements and Recognition Showcase) on Wednesday (April 30) at the Joyce Center honoring more than Irish 750 student-athletes for their achievements on the field and in the classroom during the 2007-08 school year ... senior Katie Laing was one of six student-athletes that earned the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor presented to an Irish student-athlete ... the honor has been given each year since 1927 to senior monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as both students and leaders ... chosen by the University's Faculty Board on Athletics, the awards are named in honor of the 1904 Notre Dame graduate who was a member of the baseball team as an undergraduate ... Kanaley went on to a successful banking career in Chicago and served the University as a lay trustee until his death in 1960.
Celebrating Sarah Smith ... Senior Sarah Smith took home player-of-the-week honors handed out by the BIG EAST Conference on April 29 ... Smith became the second Irish player to win the award as fellow senior Katie Laing racked up a pair of weekly accolades earlier in the year ... in Notre Dame's 5-2-1 outing from April 22-27, Smith recorded four multi-hit games including two three-hit performances ... Smith went 3-for-4 with two runs and one double for a .750 average in Notre Dame's 4-3, eight-inning win over Loyola-Chicago on April 24 ... she also went 3-for-4 with one run and one RBI in a victory over Connecticut ... for the week, Smith was 14-for-26 (.538) in eight games with seven runs, four stolen bases, two RBI and two doubles along with a sacrifice ... at the time, Smith's overall batting average of .385 ranked third in the league while her .466 clip versus conference foes was the highest of any league player.
When She's On, She's In ... Freshman Brianna Jorgensborg scored a career-high three runs in game two at Louisville (April 19) but did not register a single hit ... her only hits came from the arms of the Cardinal pitching staff courtesy of two beanballs ... she also drew a walk to put her on base in her first at-bat.
Mother Nature 1, Notre Dame 0 ... Game two of an April 24 doubleheader with Loyola-Chicago ended in a 2-2 tie when lightning forced an end to the contest ... the Irish had Katie Fleury on fist base in the bottom of the seventh with no outs when a bolt flashed over Melissa Cook Stadium ... the tie was just the third in the 1,173 games played in Irish history and the first that did not extend beyond the regulation 7.0 innings ... the last Irish tie came in 1992 when a 6-6 stalemate with Indiana State ended in the 11th inning of an April 28 ballgame.
Gettin' Lucky In Kentucky ... The April 19 sweep over Louisville snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals and marked the first time Notre Dame has taken a two-game league series from UofL ... Notre Dame last beat Louisville, 1-0, during a BIG EAST Conference Tournament game in 2006 when the Cardinals were ranked 18th in the nation ... after an Irish loss to the Cardinals in the 2008 conference tournament the all-time series record still favors UofL, 7-4.
Erin-It-Out ... Erin Marrone made her debut at catcher against Wisconsin (April 16) and has started each of Notre Dame's games since then from behind the plate ... the freshman has also started games for Notre Dame in rightfield and the designated player spot throughout the season ... she finished Notre Dame's game against UC Davis (March 1) at first base when the defensive lineup was shifted due to an injury to Heather Johnson early in the game.
Melissa Cook Stadium Unveiled ... The rain in the South Bend area may have washed out an April 12 BIG EAST Conference doubleheader between Notre Dame and Rutgers, yet the day may still go down as one of the most significant in Irish history ... Notre Dame unveiled its new playing facility - Melissa Cook Stadium - during a morning ceremony held just outside the complex ... University president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., blessed the site which will house the Irish softball program for years to come, and remarks were given from athletics director Dr. Kevin White, head softball coach Deanna Gumpf, senior tri-captain Katie Laing, and benefactors Lisa Hoffman and Paul and Linda Demo ... the Demos, parents of Melissa Cook, also helped bless a bronze relief of the former Irish player that sits just inside the main entrance of the stadium ... areas of the stadium made possible by gifts from the Delahanty and Hofmann families were honored as well.
Four Means More ... A school-record three home runs in the fourth inning helped Notre Dame overcome a 5-0 deficit to post an 11-5 non-conference win over Wisconsin (April 16) ... the three homers were the most ever for Notre Dame in a single inning as the Irish totaled four homers in the contest, the first time since the team has done so since an April 9 meeting at Pittsburgh in 2006 ... Meagan Ruthrauff had three blasts in that game with Linda Kohan - who tallied a career-high two round-trippers against the Badgers - adding the fourth ... Kohan was joined in the home run department by Katie Fleury and Christine Lux ... Fleury had hit her first career homer - and the first Irish home run in Melissa Cook Stadium - two days earlier against Rutgers (April 14) ... the first bomb of the day for Kohan christened the scoreboard in left-center by leaving a noticeable point of impact.
Four Means Less ... A scoreless three innings for both teams in Notre Dame's contest with Wisconsin (April 16) broke loose in the fourth inning when the Badgers put up a handful of runs despite scratching out only one hit but got help with one Irish error ... entering an April 15 game at Northwestern, Notre Dame had only surrendered seven runs in the fourth inning through 38 games played on the year ... the Irish gave up five to Northwestern in the fourth and five more to Wisconsin in the same stanza.
Just a Couple of Benjamins ... A win over Villanova (April 13) gave the Notre Dame program its 200th BIG EAST Conference regular-season win ... the Irish are 208-45 (.822) in regular season games since joining the league ... the program is 272-53 (.837) in overall regular-season conference games, posting a 64-14 (.820) mark as members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference from 1989-95.
Spin Cycle ... Sophomore first baseman Christine Lux was batting .182 heading into an April 9 doubleheader against Eastern Michigan ... two games and a few hits later, that average was bumped up to .223, aided especially by a record-setting performance at the plate ... Lux hit for the cycle over the two-game swing, knocking a homer, double and single in game one ... she settled for a triple and one single in the second contest ... Lux tied a school record with seven RBI to open the day, matching Meagan Ruthrauff's total from a 2006 conference game at Pittsburgh, which was played exactly two years prior ... though Lux accomplished the feat in an abbreviated five-inning game, seeing the plate only three times ... Ruthrauff had four hits in her five at-bats, including three home runs ... senior Katie Laing totaled seven RBI during Sunday's series at Seton Hall (April 6), with four in game one and three in the capper.
Tennessee Titan ... Ashley Ellis posted a .684 batting average during Notre Dame's six wins from April 5-9 ... during that stretch the Tennessee native reached base safely in 13 consecutive at-bats, counting six-straight hits from the plate.
Sweet Sweep ... Two members of the team were recognized by the BIG EAST Conference on April 7 after leading the Irish to a 5-0 record ... junior pitcher Brittney Bargar was named the league's pitcher of the week while senior second baseman Katie Laing copped the conference's player of the week award ... it was the first time this season that two teammates swept the awards ... Laing earned the honor for the second time this season with an explosive offensive output that helped Notre Dame improve to 22-10 overall and 5-1 in BIG EAST play ... the Tempe, Ariz., native went 10-for-19 with 13 RBI, five runs, four home runs and one double for a .526 batting average and a 1.211 slugging percentage ... Laing also snagged two stolen bases ... she had four multi-hit and multi-RBI games on the week, including two homers and two RBI in a 12-1 win at Seton Hall (April 6) ... she was a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate in Notre Dame's 2-1 victory over Toledo on April 2, slamming one home run and one double for two RBI and a run scored ... Bargar earned her third conference honor of the season on the strength of her trusty right arm that helped her collect four BIG EAST victories along with a midweek win over Toledo ... her 5-0 record for the week was parlayed with a 0.00 ERA ... the righty fanned 27 batters in 27.1 innings of work ... she allowed only 12 hits - all singles - four walks, and one unearned run ... Bargar tossed 13.1 innings over two games at St. John's (April 5), totaling 16 strikeouts while limiting the Red Storm to seven hits ... she was able to run her streak of innings pitched without surrendering an earned run to 54.1, dating back to a March 14 date at Charleston Southern.
Long, Strong Ivy ... The home of Notre Dame softball since the program's inception in 1989, Ivy Field saw its final pair of games when the Irish swept Eastern Michigan (April 9) in a non-conference doubleheader ... Notre Dame finished with an all-time record of 288-48-2 (.854) within the friendly confines, including wins in each of the four home games played on its turf in 2008.
The Queens of Queens (N.Y.) ... Notre Dame stayed flawless against St. John's with a doubleheader sweep on April 5 ... the team is now 26-0 all-time against the Red Storm, but the last two didn't come easy ... the Irish needed all of 12 innings in their 8-4 win to finish the twinbill, which was the largest margin of victory in program history in a game extending past the regulation 7.0 innings ... the last time Notre Dame won in a 12-inning contest was in 1994 when it defeated Indiana on May 20 by a count of 3-1.
A Freshman's First ... Freshman Jody Valdivia was named the BIG EAST Conference's Pitcher of the Week on Monday (March 31) ... the first-year tosser picked up her fifth win of the season by handing No. 17 DePaul a 2-0 defeat in her first career BIG EAST action on Sunday (March 30) to secure the honor ... the occasion marks the third time in seven weeks that an Irish pitcher has won the award, as Brittney Bargar claimed the accolade twice earlier in the season ... Valdivia (5-4) needed only 10.2 innings of work to pick up two shutout wins this past week ... she dealt DePaul its first regular-season league loss since the 2006 campaign by keeping the Blue Demons at bay with a five-hit effort ... she also limited IUPUI to only three hits without a walk while fanning seven in Notre Dame's home opener on March 26 ... the Anaheim Hills, Calif., native struck out nine batters without allowing a single run over the course of her two outings.
More Than Just Downing DePaul ... Jody Valdivia and Brittney Bargar teamed to help the Irish defeat No. 17 DePaul to wrap up a March 30 conference doubleheader ... Valdivia got the win and went 5.2 innings and struck out three with Bargar stepping in to finish the final 1.1 frames to earn her first save of the 2008 campaign ... the duo's efforts put an end to DePaul's 25-game regular season conference winning streak that dated back to April of 2006 ... it was also Notre Dame's first win at DePaul since the 2005 season ... the win also signified the first time that Notre Dame beat an opponent that carried a No. 17 ranking, and was the 16th time the Irish shut out a ranked foe ... Notre Dame has 49 all-time wins against ranked opponents.
BIG EAST Notices Blanking of the Broncos ... Senior Katie Laing and junior Brittney Bargar found spots on the BIG EAST Conference's weekly honor roll for their efforts against Western Michigan (March 20) ... Bargar tossed a complete-game shutout to give Notre Dame a 2-0 non-conference win against WMU on a cold Michigan afternoon ... Bargar gave up only two hits in 7.0 frames of work and struck out nine Broncos ... she also helped herself by cleanly fielding six grounders for outs ... her only walk of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning ... senior Katie Laing finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish against the Broncos and was the lone player on either team to record more than one hit in the game ... she singled in her first at-bat then belted a solo homer to deep centerfield during her second plate appearance ... it was her second homer of the season, and her 12th knock of the campaign that has been good for extra-bases.
She Can Toss It ... Junior Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Conference's Pitcher of the Week on March 17, claiming the honor for the second time in as many weeks ... Bargar turned in a 0.41 ERA over three appearances at Charleston Southern's Lowcountry Collegiate Softball Invitational to earn a spot on the event's all-tournament team ... she pitched her way to three wins from the circle - including two shutouts - while giving up only 13 hits in 17.1 frames ... Bargar struck out 12 batters over that interval and allowed one earned run ... she allowed only three earned runs for a 0.39 ERA since March 1, covering 11 contests and 53.2 innings of work in that timeframe.
The Lowcountry Lowdown ... Four wins at the Lowcountry Collegiate Softball Invitational hosted by Charleston Southern highlighted Notre Dame's trip to South Carolina ... Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Laing both totaled seven hits at the tournament to lead the team ... pitcher Brittney Bargar registered a pair of shutout wins from the circle ... a ten-run third inning gave the Irish a 10-2 win in five innings over host Charleston Southern on Saturday (March 16) ... the Buccaneers took a brief 2-0 lead in the top of the third before the Irish pounded out nine hits in the visitor's half of the frame to post the double-figure total ... Pitzenberger scored twice in the inning ... the Irish registered five consecutive hits at one point during the frame ... during a day-one sweep over Towson and Charleston Southern (March 15), Notre Dame's 23 scores on 25 hits marked the program's highest run total over a two-game stretch since taking a pair of contests from Valparaiso on April 23, 2003, by scores of 11-0 and 15-1 ... Notre Dame totaled a season-high 14 hits in 25 official at-bats in the second game against CSU ... Notre Dame totaled 51 hits (10.2/game) and scored 40 runs (8/game) at the event ... in fact, the squad registered at least 10 hits in three consecutive games over that stretch ... each of the 10 hits against Campbell (March 15) were singles ... Laing had two triples, two doubles and seven RBI at the tournament - including a career-high four RBI against Charleston Southern on opening day ... Christine Lux slammed two homers, and Katie Fleury drove in six scores while adding on five runs herself, finishing with a .657 on-base clip ... Sarah Smith and Ashley Ellis shared for team-bests with a .545 batting average at the five-game invite ... the two shared nearly identical stat lines with a .545 average in 11 at-bats, six hits, one walk, and a .583 on-base percentage ... freshman Shannon Kelly notched the first hit of her career against Towson (March 14).
California Love ... The Irish enjoyed a 6-3 mark during its Spring Break trip to the West Coast ... both Katie Fleury and Sadie Pitzenberger registered nine hits over the break to lead the team ... Ashley Ellis totaled two homers to go along with four singles for a .571 slugging percentage ... she also led the team with eight RBI in eight games ... collectively, Notre Dame hit .261 while holding opponents to a .218 mark ... the pitching corps posted a 1.07 ERA over 59.0 innings.
Twice the Fun ... Two doubles by Katie Laing highlighted her 3-for-4 day at the plate and gave the senior the program's all-time career record by bringing her two-bagger total to 50 during Notre Dame's win at UC Riverside (March 4) ... her record-setting double in the fifth inning traveled to left-center to score Beth Northway ... Laing also led the team with three RBI against the Aggies.
Longballs at Long Beach ... There were 17 games played during the Long Beach Invitational ... but only one home run left the park during the event ... that smash came off the bat of Ashley Ellis, who sent her third homer of the season out of the complex against No. 2 UCLA ... most of the tournament's contests were played at Lisa Fernandez Field at Mayfair Park in Lakewood (Calif.) ... that field featured a fence that sat all of 275 feet from home plate.
Pound Town ... Notre Dame racked UC Davis pitcher Jessica Hancock for 13 hits in its 6-5 win on March 1 ... at the time, the season-high hit total signified the most knocks Notre Dame had recorded in a game since it registered 16 against Syracuse on April 1, 2007 ... each Irish batter recorded at least one hit in the game ... Sadie Pitzenberger, Sarah Smith, Beth Northway, and Ashley Ellis each punched in multi-hit efforts at the plate ... Ellis - who screeched a homer over the leftfield fence that exited the park in a flash - also drove in a career-high four runs.
With Honors ... Junior Brittney Bargar was named the BIG EAST Conference's Pitcher of the Week on March 10 ... the Corona, Calif., native made five appearances for the Irish from March 1-9, logging 25.1 innings of work while posting a 0.55 ERA over that stretch ... during that time she fanned 21 batters, issued three walks, and gave up only two earned runs ... Bargar tossed a one-hitter against Long Beach State (March 7) but did not get the run support needed to earn the win in Notre Dame's 1-0 loss ... one day later she out-dueled No. 24 Virginia Tech and its ace pitcher, Angela Tincher, by giving up only one run on six hits with four strikeouts in the winning effort ... she also checked in for the Irish against No. 2 UCLA to turn in a shutout relief performance.
Fallen Ranks ... Notre Dame earned its first win over a ranked opponent this season when it topped No. 24 Virginia Tech, 2-1 ... previous attempts to upend foes in the top-25 faltered during battles with No. 3 Texas A&M (L, 1-4), No. 7 Florida (L, 2-3 / 5-2), and No. 2 UCLA (L, 2-3).
Making a Splash at the Aquafinia Invite ... A morning loss to Gardner-Webb in the two team's first ever meeting was followed by a shutout win over North Florida for Notre Dame on the opening day of the Aquafina Invitational ... Brittney Bargar provided 3.1 innings of relief work from the circle against Gardner-Webb, scattering two hits without permitting a run ... the Irish scored two runs in the sixth inning after punching in four hits ... both Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Fleury had two hits apiece to pace Notre Dame ... Barger came back and threw 7.0 innings of shutout ball and struck out seven Lady Ospreys in Notre Dame's first win over North Florida ... Katie Laing led Notre Dame with two hits, and Christine Lux added a double ... freshman Jody Valdivia and Bargar combined to pitch 13.0 innings without surrendering an earned run on the second day of the invite ... Valdivia picked up her first career win in an Irish uniform by going 7.0 innings against North Florida, giving up only one hit while fanning seven batters ... then after holding No. 7 Florida scoreless through five frames, Bargar let a trio of unearned runs cross the plate in the sixth despite giving up only five hits and two walks in the contest ... Notre Dame held a 2-0 lead over the undefeated Gators until that three-run sixth gave Florida its come-from-behind win ... Notre Dame began its first inning against the Gators with Pitzenberger reaching base after getting hit by a Stacey Nelson pitch ... Pitzenberger advanced to third on a Gator throwing error, and would score when Laing grounded out to short with one out ... that score snapped Nelson's 40.0 inning scoreless streak which dated back to a Feb. 10 game against South Florida ... three runs on three hits and one Irish error gave Florida its lead in the bottom of the sixth ... the Irish totaled five hits in game two against UNF's Devyn Findley, with two of those coming off the bat of Linda Kohan who finished the night a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish ... the junior also registered the team's lone RBI, a fourth-inning single that plated Sarah Smith ... Heather Johnson and Erin Marrone each recorded doubles for Notre Dame, who managed the win despite stranding nine runners on base ... day three featured the Irish and Gators in the tournament's championship game ... the Gators turned away the Irish with a 5-2 win ... Smith recorded Notre Dame's first hit of the afternoon - a single to shallow left - to leadoff the sixth ... a single up the gut of the Gator defense by Pitzenberger put two on the pond, and Fleury drew a walk to juice the bags ... Nelson fired in a double-play ball to relieve two Irish players, but Johnson delivered a two-out single to left that scored a pair of runs for Notre Dame ... Pitzenberger had five hits over the course of the tournament to lead the Irish, while Johnson posted a team-high three RBI.
Laing Shines In Homecoming ... Senior second baseman Katie Laing earned the first BIG EAST Conference Softball Player of the Week honor for the 2008 season (Feb. 18) ... Laing, a native of Tempe, Ariz., recorded a team-best batting average (.429), slugging percentage (.714), on-base percentage (.500) and RBI total (4) over the four-game stretch ... she totaled 10 bases on the weekend and had multi-hit performances in the 6-5 loss to Western Kentucky and the 4-3 win over California in front of her hometown crowd ... against the Golden Bears, Laing recorded a two-run homer to put Notre Dame on the board early in the contest, and then knocked a walk-off double to drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Bend It Like Bargar ... Junior Brittney Bargar made three appearances and logged 18.1 innings of work and posted a 1.91 ERA for Notre Dame during the Kajikawa Classic to earn a seat on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll (Feb. 18) ... she struck out 23 batters over that stretch and earned two wins while giving up only nine hits through three games ... Bargar helped the Irish to a comeback win over California after punching in 4.1 innings of relief time and gave up only two hits without a run ... she also held No. 3 Texas A&M to only four hits in a complete-game effort ... she opened the season against Utah with a 6-2 win, limiting the Utes to only three hits.
First Time for Everything ... For the first time in Notre Dame history, the Irish scored four runs in a season's opening inning when they accomplished the feat in the top of the first against Utah (Feb. 15) ... the previous record of three was set against Indiana in the 1990 season opener ... the four-run output in a single inning was the team's first since they racked up five scores in the top of the third against No. 12 DePaul (May 11) at last season's BIG EAST Tournament ... five freshmen earned starting nods at some point during the Kajikawa Classic ... Ashley Ellis' first career homerun - a deep solo shot to center - came during the seventh inning to wrap up Notre Dame's scoring against the Utes ... in her first career at-bat, freshman Brianna Jorgensborg laced a three-RBI double down the rightfield line.
Mutli-Tasking ... Both Sadie Pitzenberger and Katie Laing registered a pair of multi-hit efforts during the Kajikawa Classic ... Laing had two hits against both California and Western Kentucky ... in her first collegiate contest, Pitzenberger lit Utah for three hits and snagged a pair of doubles against the Hilltoppers ... four players - Pitzenberger, Laing, Heather Johnson, and Brianna Jorgensborg - had multi-RBI performances over the four-game stretch as well.
Let the Sun Shine ... Although the temperature was not quite ideal for a season-opening tournament in Arizona, the Irish squad was nonetheless ready to rip out and relish the opportunity to play outdoors after practicing in the indoor Loftus Center on campus for the past several weeks ... Notre Dame wasted no time lighting its offensive fire, exploding for four runs on three hits in the top half of the first inning to open the season against Utah ... each of the nine batters in the lineup saw action at the dish in that frame ... the Irish defense turned around and shutout the Utes for four innings, also leaving them without a hit during that stretch.
Johnson Comes Up Big ... With their backs against the wall and trailing Western Kentucky, 5-3, the Irish needed a lift in the top of the seventh to stay alive ... Sadie Pitzenberger led the frame with a double but was stranded on base after the next two batters were retired ... facing a 2-2 count, Heather Johnson crushed a two-run homer to left-center to tie the game and keep the Irish pulse beating ... it was the third homerun of the sophomore's career.
Take a Load Off ... It's great to open a fresh season with a win, and head coach Deanna Gumpf has now done that on three occasions in seven tries with the Irish following a 6-2 triumph over Utah ... Gumpf's first career game as Notre Dame's head coach was against the top-ranked team in the nation ... Notre Dame fell in that duel to No. 1 Arizona, 3-0, in Tucson during the Arizona Pepsi Classic in 2002.