Oct. 30, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf recently announced the program's 2010 schedule, which features trips to 10 different states and includes 16 home dates.
"Like every other season, we want to play the best teams across the nation," Gumpf said. "And as the BIG EAST Conference continues to improve every year, we have to prepare ourselves for league play by putting together a solid non-conference schedule. This schedule has it all, from the defending national champion (Washington) to a number of last year's conference champions."
Notre Dame begins the season at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State. The Irish will face Creighton (Feb. 12), Oregon (Feb. 12), Auburn (Feb. 13), Oregon State (Feb. 13) and Washington (Feb. 14) in Tempe, Ariz. In fact, the matchup against the Huskies will mark the eighth time in the last 10 seasons the Irish have been slated to face the defending national champion (Notre Dame was scheduled to play Arizona in 2008 but the game was called off due to rain).
From Feb. 20-21, Notre Dame will take part in the Southern Miss Mizuno Classic in Hattiesburg, Miss., where the Irish will square off with Louisiana Tech, Stephen F. Austin, Alcorn State and the host Golden Eagles.
The University of Virginia Invitational in Charlottesville, Va., will feature matchups against Lehigh (Feb. 26, Feb. 28), Ohio (Feb. 26), George Washington (Feb. 27) and the host Cavaliers (Feb. 27).
Nine days in California will feature nine contests against teams from around the nation. The UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament (March 6-7) and the Long Beach State Invitational (March 12-14) will sandwich a non-conference meeting at Cal State Northridge.
The home portion of the schedule begins March 23 against Eastern Michigan with a doubleheader versus Toledo one day later.
BIG EAST Conference play gets going at Seton Hall (March 27-28), with the first home league series April 1-3 against Rutgers. That will start an 11-game homestand - including series with USF (April 10-11) and Georgetown (April 14) - which ends April 15 against Cleveland Sate.
Notre Dame travels to Louisville (April 17-18), DePaul (April 22) and St. John's (May 8-9) in the regular-season's closing weeks.
Louisville will host the BIG EAST Championships (May 13-15) at Ulmer Stadium for the second consecutive season. The league's regular-season format differs for the 2010 season, as most meetings will consists of three-game series instead of the previous two-game format utilized in the past.
The NCAA Tournaments starts May 20 and culminates with the Women's College World Series (May 31-June 6) in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Notre Dame will play each of its home games at Melissa Cook Stadium.
The Irish posted their 21st winning season in as many years with a 43-17 record in 2009. It was the 11th 40-win campaign in program history and fifth under Gumpf. Notre Dame also advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year and was ranked 25th in the final regular season NFCA Top 25 poll. The ranking was a first since 2004 and the first to end the season since 2002.
Junior Christine Lux was named an NFCA third-team All-American, becoming the 17th Irish player to cop the honor. Over the course of the 60-game season, Lux amassed a .329 batting average while also tallying 15 home runs, a number that ties the program's single-season mark for home runs that she herself set in 2008.
A number of top single-season team marks were set during 2009 including: runs (2nd - 310), doubles (3rd - 90), home runs (1st - 66), RBI (1st - 282), total bases (1st - 748), slugging pct. (1st - .501), walks (1st - 152), on-base pct. (2nd - .371) and complete games (3rd - 46).
Notre Dame beat three teams - St. John's, No. 17 Louisville and No. 19 DePaul - without allowing an earned run en route to claiming the program's sixth BIG EAST Tournament title. And not only did Notre Dame hand Louisville just its second home loss of the season, but the Irish became the only team to blank the Cardinals on the year. It was the first time Notre Dame beat ranked opponents in two consecutive contests since 2005 and the first time the Irish beat a pair of top-20 teams on consecutive tries since 2000. Pitcher Brittney Bargar, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, earned two shutout wins while giving up eight hits.