May 18, 2016
by Tony Jones
#23 Notre Dame at the 2016 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional
May 20-22, 2016
Wilpon Softball Complex/Alumni Field
Ann Arbor, Michigan
#23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
(41-11 in 2016)
#2 Michigan Wolverines, NCAA Championship #2 National Seed
(46-5 in 2016)
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
(34-21 in 2016)
(18-32 in 2016)
Notre Dame NCAA Championship Schedule
No. 23 Notre Dame (2) vs. Miami (3) -- Friday, 4:30 p.m. (ET)/BTN2Go
Saturday, May 21
Game 3 -- 12 p.m. (ET) -- Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner
Game 4 -- 2:30 p.m. (ET) -- Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser
Game 5 -- 5 p.m. (ET) -- Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Winner
Sunday, May 22
Game 6 -- 2 p.m. (ET) -- Game 3 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner
Game 7 -- 4:30 p.m. (ET) -- Game 6 Winner vs. Game 6 Loser (if necessary)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- For the 21st time in the last 23 seasons, the University of Notre Dame softball team is set to compete in the NCAA Championship tournament.
No. 23 Notre Dame (41-11) received the number two seed in the 2016 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.
Tournament coverage will be available through the Big Ten Conference Network via BTN2Go.
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.
IRISH SLAP HITS
Notre Dame will make its 21st overall NCAA Championship (18th straight) appearance this weekend when it travels to the Ann Arbor Regional at Alumni Field and the Wilpon Softball Complex.
Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf has guided Notre Dame to NCAA Regional appearances in each of her 15 seasons at the helm of the program.
The Irish are 30-40 (.429) in NCAA Championship play dating back to the program's first NCAA Regional appearance in 1994 in Bloomington. Notre Dame has reached the final day of the regional bracket nine different times during its history. The Irish return to Ann Arbor for the 11th time in NCAA Championship play since 1995.
Senior Micaela Arizmendi became Notre Dame softball's first three-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) first team selection as part of the league's year-end awards announcement on May 12. Arizmendi, junior co-captain Karley Wester (second team), sophomore Morgan Reed (second team) and freshman Ali Wester (second team) were each 2016 Irish all-ACC representatives.
Junior co-captain Karley Wester was named one of the Top 10 Finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award on May 11. Wester is the second Notre Dame player in the last four seasons to be one of the 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, joining three-time All-American Emilee Koerner ('15). Freshman Ali Wester became the second Notre Dame newcomer in the last three years (Karley Wester, 2014) to reach the final 10 in Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year voting on May 12.
Irish softball is one of only two Notre Dame varsity athletic programs to have never posted a losing record. The softball team clinched its 28th straight season with a .500 record or better with an 11-3 win in five innings over IUPUI on April 5 at Melissa Cook Stadium. Notre Dame's three-time national champion women's soccer program has also logged 28 straight winning seasons since its inception at the varsity level in the fall of 1988.
ND Back To Ann Arbor For NCAAs
On the heels of a runner-up finish in the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship final on May 14, Notre Dame was rewarded by earning a bid to the regional round of the 2016 NCAA Softball Championship.
Notre Dame 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 Softball 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.
The NCAA Ann Arbor Regional marks 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).
Wester Sisters Top 10 Finalists For National Awards
A pair of Notre Dame softball siblings have reached the final 10 in voting for national player and freshman of the year honors in Division I softball. Junior co-captain Karley Wester was one of the Top 10 Finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award announced on May 11 by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball. Freshman Ali Wester was tabbed the following day as one of the 10 finalists for the Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I National Freshman of the Year award. The Westers are the only siblings in NCAA Division I softball to both be included in top 10 contention for national player and freshman of the year accolades in 2016.
Karley Wester is the second Notre Dame player in the last four seasons to be a Top 10 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, joining three-time All-American Emilee Koerner (`15) in 2013. Wester, one of five position players included in the 2016 award's final 10 candidates, is the lone representative of the ACC still in the running for national player of the year.
Ali Wester is the second Notre Dame player to be a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award since its inception in 2014, joining sister Karley, who was a top three finalist for the inaugural national freshman of the year award in 2014.
Four All-ACC Choices For ND
Four members of the Notre Dame softball team claimed all-ACC honors on the eve of the 2016 ACC Championship on May 12. Senior Micaela Arizmendi was tabbed to the all-ACC first team, while sophomore Morgan Reed, junior co-captain Karley Wester and freshman Ali Wester represented the Irish on the all-ACC second team.
The four Notre Dame selections pushed the total number of Irish players recognized on all-ACC teams to 15 since the team joined the league in 2014, with Arizmendi becoming the program's first three-time first team honoree in the conference. Arizmendi is the first primary field player to earn three straight all-conference first team scrolls since Alexa Maldonado ('12) claimed top billing in the BIG EAST Conference from 2010-12. The Wester sisters became the first Notre Dame softball siblings to ever be named all-conference in the same season with their second team all-ACC nods.
Three Irish Players On ACC All-Tourney Team
Notre Dame's Rachel Nasland, co-captain Karley Wester and Ali Wester were each all-tournament team selections announced at the conclusion of the 2016 ACC Championship on May 14.
Ali Wester batted a team-high .444 during the ACC tournament runner-up finish for the Irish, adding two RBI, a stolen base and one run scored. Karley Wester contributed four hits, including a walk-off triple in the ACC quarterfinal round against Virginia Tech, and scored a team-high three runs overall during the tournament.
Nasland was sterling in the pitching circle for Notre Dame, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.70 ERA in three tournament appearances (one start). Nasland struck out nine foes in 12.1 innings pitched during the three-day event.
Irish In The NCAA Championship
Notre Dame qualified for the NCAA Championship for the 21st time in the last 23 seasons with its at-large bid. The Irish are 30-40 (.429) all-time in NCAA Regional play, and have reached the final day of the regional bracket nine different times.
ND Offense Ranks Among The Best
Notre Dame has regularly been recognized as one of the top offensive clubs in ACC softball since joining the conference prior to the 2014 season. Thanks to steady and consistent production at the plate, the Irish have extended that reputation into 2016.
After 52 games, Notre Dame is the ACC leader with a .351 team batting average (fifth in the NCAA) and 509 hits to go along with a league-high 46 sacrifice hits. The Irish are also second in runs scored (364), RBI (330), doubles (80) and triples (11).
Notre Dame had the top three hitters, junior co-captain Karley Wester (.440, first), freshman Ali Wester (.420, second) and freshman Melissa Rochford (.398, third), ranked among the top 10 hitters in the ACC as of May 15.
Irish Against The Opposition
Notre Dame is 44-21 (.677) against potential opponents at the 2016 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional factoring in all-time series against Miami, Valparaiso and Michigan.
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.