May 16, 2017
by Tony Jones
Notre Dame at NCAA Auburn Regional
May 19-21, 2017
Jane B. Moore Field
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(33-21 in 2017)
No. 7 National Seed Auburn Tigers
(46-10 in 2017)
California Golden Bears
(30-22 in 2017)
(29-24 in 2017)
Notre Dame NCAA Auburn Regional Schedule
Friday, May 19
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 California - 2 p.m. (ET)/ESPN2
No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 ETSU - 4:30 p.m. (ET)/ESPNU
Saturday, May 20
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. TBA - TBA/TBA
Sunday, May 21
No. 3 Notre Dame vs. TBA - TBA/TBA
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - NCAA Championship softball is set to arrive this weekend, and the University of Notre Dame softball team is one of 64 teams competing on the road to the Women's College World Series. The Irish open the 2017 NCAA Auburn Regional on Friday at 2 p.m. (ET) against California at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Alabama. Host and seventh-seeded Auburn takes on ETSU on Friday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Irish Slap Hits Notre Dame has amassed a 1,179-515-3 (.696) all-time record, 30 combined conference championships (19 regular season, 11 tournament) and 22 NCAA Regional appearances, which has included 19 straight berths into the NCAA Championship tournament.
Notre Dame qualified for its 19th straight NCAA Division I Softball Championship, earning a bid to the 2017 NCAA Auburn Regional on Sunday night. A total of three Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams received regional invitations, with Notre Dame joined by national No. 4 seed Florida State and North Carolina in the NCAA Championship draw.
Notre Dame has now qualified for the NCAA Championship 22 times in the past 24 seasons, reaching the regional final of the national tournament on 10 occasions. Head coach Deanna Gumpf has directed the Irish to NCAA Regional appearances in each of her 16 seasons at the helm of the program.
The 2017 NCAA Auburn Regional will mark the first time that Notre Dame has traveled to Auburn 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).
Notre Dame has posted a 5-4 combined record in two previous trips to Jane B. Moore Field, defeating the Tigers 3-2 in both 2007 and 2014 on Auburn's home field. The Irish recently went 3-1 against Auburn, Tennessee Tech and Morehead State at the 2014 Auburn Plainsman Invitational.
Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 29th straight season with a .500 record or better with a 6-5 win over Western Michigan on April 19. Notre Dame's three-time national champion women's soccer program has logged 29 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
Irish Return For 19th Straight NCAA ChampionshipNotre Dame reached its 19th straight NCAA Division I Softball Championship, earning a bid to the 2017 NCAA Auburn Regional on Sunday night. A total of three Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) teams received regional invitations, with Notre Dame joined by national No. 4 seed Florida State and North Carolina in the NCAA Championship draw.
Irish In Elite NCAA CompanyWith Sunday's NCAA selections officially set, Notre Dame joined an elite group of peers in the modern history of the NCAA Division I Softball Championship. The Irish are one of just eight Division I teams nationally to hear their name called to an NCAA Regional each May since 1999.
Joining Notre Dame in each of the last 19 NCAA tournament brackets has been Alabama, Arizona, UL-Lafayette, Michigan, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington.
Irish Standouts Recognized With ACC AccoladesFour Notre Dame team members officially received all-ACC honors ahead of the opening round of games at the 2017 ACC Championship on May 11 at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ali Wester and Karley Wester were both selected to the all-ACC first team, while Morgan Reed and Melissa Rochford claimed all-ACC second team accolades.
The four Notre Dame selections pushed the total number of Irish players recognized on all-ACC teams to 19 since the Irish entered the league in 2014, while Karley Wester joined Micaela Arizmendi ('16) as the program's second three-time first team honoree in the conference. The Wester sisters are the only Notre Dame softball siblings to ever be named first team all-conference in the same season by virtue of their 2017 nods on the all-ACC first team.
Caitlyn Brooks joined in on the postseason awards haul by being named to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the ACC Championship on May 13. Brooks batted .500 (4-for-8) with a home run, three RBI and a run scored in two Notre Dame games against Boston College and No. 4 Florida State.
Karley Wester's Last StandThe final 10 games of the regular season career of Notre Dame captain Karley Wester mirrored much of her historic career manning the outfield for the Irish in each contest since the start of the 2014 campaign. Wester batted .514 over her final 10 starts in the regular season, adding three RBI, nine stolen bases and 13 runs from the leadoff spot of the Notre Dame lineup.
Wester, the active hits in NCAA Division I softball with 320 as of May 14, also holds the Notre Dame career records for runs scored (225) and stolen bases (128).
Never Count The Irish OutWith a four-run rally in the top of the eighth inning against Boston College at the ACC Championship on May 11, the Irish have now won 15 games as a result of their final inning at the plate thus far in 2017.
Notre Dame has earned 11 victories in the seventh inning or later after entering the frame either trailing or tied, including five bottom of the seventh walk-offs. The Irish have added three run-rule walk-offs in the bottom of fifth innings during home games.
The Irish opened the season with a win thanks to a bottom of the seventh wild pitch to defeat Weber State 2-1 on Feb. 10. Katie Marino struck for Notre Dame on Feb. 25, delivering a solo home run in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-4 win over No. 4 Oklahoma. A fielder's choice and error in the top of the eighth capped the Notre Dame tournament comebacks during a 5-3 win over FIU on March 4.
At the conclusion of a wild three-game conference series at Georgia Tech, Morgan Reed established a Notre Dame single-game record with eight RBI thanks to a grand slam in the top of the eighth in an 8-6 win over the Yellow Jackets on March 12. The opening Irish home game of 2017 against Michigan State (March 22) ended at 11-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to an RBI single from Madison Heide. Notre Dame's homestand featured a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning that secured a 9-1 Irish win in game two against Virginia Tech on March 24.
Melissa Rochford, whose two-run double with two outs in the top of the seventh inning tied the aforementioned FIU contest, struck again in the opening game of a three-game series at Louisville on April 1. Rochford's two-run single with two away in the top of the seventh vaulted Notre Dame to a 5-4 win over the Cardinals. Rochford followed up in the subsequent ACC series against North Carolina on April 8, singling in the bottom of the seventh frame for a 2-1 Notre Dame win.
Kimmy Sullivan continued her hot hitting at Melissa Cook Stadium on April 12, depositing a walk-off, three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 13-4 win over IUPUI. Reed returned with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning later in the week during game one of a series at NC State on April 14, with the big fly ultimately guiding Notre Dame over the Wolfpack 4-3. Caitlyn Brooks picked up her first walk-off hit of the year in the bottom of the seventh inning against Western Michigan on April 19, lacing an RBI single into right center to vault the Irish past the Broncos 6-5. Brooks connected on the ultimate game-winning RBI double to score Reed from second in the 10-2 win at Northwestern on April 25.
Reed struck for the third time in the seventh inning or later in 2017 on May 3, ripping a full-count pitch down the line at third base to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-3 win over Butler. Karley Wester was able to play the hero in her final career plate appearance at Melissa Cook Stadium against Boston College on May 7, ripping a walk-off single off the wall in center to score Brooks and clinch a 10-9 comeback win for the Irish. A four-run top of the eighth inning against Boston College at the ACC Championship on May 11, featuring an RBI walk with the bases loaded for Ali Wester and RBI singles from Reed and Brooks, led to an eventual 9-5 Notre Dame victory.
Irish In The NCAA ChampionshipNotre Dame qualified for the NCAA Championship for the 22nd time in the last 24 seasons with its at-large bid to the NCAA Auburn Regional. The Irish are 32-42 (.432) all-time in NCAA Regional play, and have reached the final day of the regional bracket 10 different times.
Irish Against The OppositionNotre Dame is a combined 7-8 against possible opponents at this weekend's NCAA Auburn Regional. The Irish have fashioned a 5-2 mark all-time against host Auburn, including two prior victories at Jane B. Moore Field.
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 Monroe and with the National Football League's Buffalo Bills.