May 16, 2016
by Tony Jones
-- Notre Dame Softball (@NDsoftball) May 16, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On the heels of a runner-up finish in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship final, the University of Notre Dame softball team was rewarded by earning a bid to the regional round of the 2016 NCAA Championship on Sunday.
A total of four Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams received regional invitations, with Notre Dame joined by national No. 8 seed Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville in the NCAA Championship draw.
No. 20/23 Notre Dame (41-11) received the number two seed in the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional, and will face Miami (Ohio) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. (ET) at the Wilpon Complex in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Also in the region are No. 2 national seed Michigan and Valparaiso, who will square off in Friday's second game at 7 p.m.
Notre Dame has now qualified for the NCAA Championship 21 times in 28 seasons, reaching each of the past 18 national tournaments. Head coach Deanna Gumpf has directed the Irish to NCAA Regional appearances in each of her 15 seasons at the helm of the program.
The NCAA Ann Arbor Regional will mark the 11th time that Notre Dame has traveled to Michigan during NCAA Championship play. Along with serving as host in 2005 and 2015, sites Notre Dame has traveled to for NCAA Regionals include Bloomington (1994), Ann Arbor (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016), Iowa City (2001, 2002), Evanston (2006, 2007), Tucson (2012), Lexington (2013) and Los Angeles (2014).
Michigan (46-5) enters NCAA Regional play after finishing as the runner-up at the Big Ten Conference Championship tournament behind Minnesota last weekend in State College, Pennsylvania. The Wolverines, the 2005 NCAA champion and an 11-time NCAA Women's College World Series qualifier, were the national runner-up to Florida in the 2015 NCAA Championship series. Notre Dame previously knocked Michigan out of its own NCAA Regional in 1999.
Miami (34-21) won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship on Saturday with a 3-0 shutout of Ohio in the tournament final in Akron, Ohio. The RedHawks are back in the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2012 and the fourth time in program history, along with appearances in 2005 and 2009. Notre Dame is 5-2 in its all-time series with Miami, including a 5-3 win during the 2009 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional.
Valparaiso (18-32), the Horizon League tournament champion, will make its third NCAA Championship appearance after traveling to Louisville in 2012 and Michigan in 2013 in previous national tournament stops. Notre Dame is 35-2 all-time in a lengthy series against the Crusaders, including a 7-3 win on April 20 of this season at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame posted a 13-7 conference record during its third official season as an ACC member, placing third in the regular season conference standings before finishing as the ACC tournament runner-up for the second time. Junior co-captain Karley Wester is one of the Top 10 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, while sister and freshman Ali Wester made the final 10 of the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award. Senior Micaela Arizmendi became Notre Dame's first three-time all-ACC first team selection, while the Westers and sophomore Morgan Reed each claimed second team all-ACC citations.
Along with an 18th straight NCAA Championship appearance in 2016, Notre Dame surpassed the 40-win plateau for the 18th time in program history, and the eighth straight campaign overall. The Irish have notched a winning season in each of their 28 seasons as a varsity program, joining women's soccer as the only two Notre Dame athletics teams able to stake that claim.
Tickets for the regional tournament are priced at $12 for reserved chairback and $10 for reserved bleacher seats. General admission outfield bleacher tickets are $8. Tickets will go on sale to the general public starting Wednesday (May 18) at 8:30 a.m. and may be purchased online at MGoBlue.com/tickets, by phone or in person at the U-M Ticket Office.
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.
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.