Nov. 8, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame softball head coach Deanna Gumpf announced Friday that the team will face 10 NCAA Regional participants from last season, including three Super Regional qualifiers, as part of its competitive 2014 schedule.
The Irish are entering their first season as an Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member, and have qualified for the NCAA Championship in each of the last 15 seasons (18 seasons overall).
"As we have always done, we make it a point to schedule teams from the strongest conferences in the country early in the year to prepare us for conference play," Gumpf said. "Especially given our move to the ACC, that type of scheduling will be extremely valuable for us this season. We are entering a talented league that had four NCAA Championship qualifiers last season, and we feel like our schedule is set up to help us reach our team goals."
The Irish open the season at the Auburn Plainsman Invitational in Auburn, Ala. Notre Dame will face Tennessee Tech and North Dakota State (Feb. 8) on the opening day of the tournament, closing the event with Morehead State and host Auburn (Feb. 9).
The first of three separate swings to Florida in 2014 will follow when the Irish appear at the Jacksonville University Tournament, facing former BIG EAST foe and future ACC member Louisville on Feb. 15 before playing a pair of games with 2013 NCAA Super Regional qualifier Missouri (Feb. 15-16).
Notre Dame then flips coasts bound for California, making its third-ever appearance at the prestigious Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The event features 34 of the top teams in the country, making it the largest Division I softball tournament held during the regular season. The Irish open the event with Pacific and 2013 NCAA Regional qualifier BYU on Feb. 20 before facing UC Davis on Feb. 21. A pair of games with 2013 NCAA participant California and Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 22 will set the stage for a final day showdown with 2013 NCAA Super Regional qualifier and national top-10 ranked Oregon on Feb. 23.
After returning to the East Coast, Notre Dame will play five games in its fourth straight appearance at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic (Feb. 28-March 2) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla. The Irish are 10-3 all-time at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic after posting a perfect 4-0 mark last season, and have outscored opponents by a combined 30-8 run differential at the tournament.
Notre Dame is slated to play a program-record 28 conference games in 2014, and the ACC schedule gets into full swing for the Irish with a three-game set at Georgia Tech (March 8-9) in Atlanta, Ga. Notre Dame is a perfect 4-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets after earning a 6-2 win over Georgia Tech at last season's Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
A two-game, non-conference twin bill against Florida International and Central Florida (March 13) in Orlando will set the stage for Notre Dame's inaugural ACC meeting with former BIG EAST rival Virginia Tech (March 15-16) in Blacksburg, Va. The Irish hold an 11-4 edge in their series with the Hokies, including a perfect 6-0 mark in conference meetings, but Virginia Tech is riding a two-game winning streak against Notre Dame after a 4-3 win in a matchup in the Lexington (Ky.) Regional of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
The first-ever ACC series at Melissa Cook Stadium will also have a distinct BIG EAST flavor when Notre Dame welcomes another longtime BIG EAST opponent, Pittsburgh, for a set of games on March 22-23. The Irish are 29-2 all-time against the Panthers and won 28 of 30 meetings between the teams in BIG EAST play, compiling a run differential of 188-35 with 14 total shutouts in conference games.
A pair of home midweek contests will bridge the gap leading into the next ACC weekend series when Notre Dame welcomes Northwestern (March 25) and Eastern Michigan (March 26). The Irish are 37-3-1 (.915) in non-conference games at Melissa Cook Stadium since the facility opened during the middle of the 2008 season.
Notre Dame returns to Syracuse, N.Y. for the first time since 2011 when the Irish and Orange meet in a three-game ACC series (March 29-30). Notre Dame holds a 20-5 advantage against Syracuse all-time, including an 8-2 edge in true road contests, and has not lost at the Skytop Softball Stadium since 2008.
A midweek home-road split with Michigan State (April 2) at Melissa Cook Stadium and at DePaul (April 4) will lead into the only one-day road ACC showdown of the season at North Carolina (April 9). Notre Dame is 9-2 in its first 11 meetings all-time against the Tar Heels, and has never lost to North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The season's second five-game homestand begins with a conference set against 2013 ACC regular-season champion and NCAA Super Regional qualifier Florida State (April 13-14). The Seminoles will be making their first trip ever to the Notre Dame campus for the series. A midweek tilt with Toledo (April 16) is scheduled to follow at Melissa Cook Stadium.
Notre Dame's final ACC road series of 2014 will take the Irish to Charlottesville, Va. for three games at The Park against Virginia (April 18-19). Notre Dame is a perfect 6-0 all-time against the Cavaliers, outscoring Virginia 43-10 in those contests.
The only regular season home midweek conference doubleheader of the year will bring defending ACC champion North Carolina State to Notre Dame on April 22. The Irish and Wolfpack will meet for the first time in series history during the twin bill. A midweek non-conference matchup with Valparaiso (April 24) at Melissa Cook Stadium will follow.
The nine-game homestand continues the following weekend when Maryland (April 27-28) travels to Melissa Cook Stadium for an ACC series and the fourth annual Notre Dame Strikeout Cancer Weekend. The Irish have raised more than $75,000 to directly benefit children in the South Bend area and throughout the state of Indiana battling cancer over the past three seasons of the initiative. Notre Dame improved to 5-0 all-time against the Terrapins with a 5-3 victory last season at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
A midweek contest against Western Michigan on April 29 will prep the Irish for the final ACC series of the season against former BIG EAST rival Boston College (May 3-4) at Melissa Cook Stadium. Notre Dame is 18-6 all-time against the Eagles, including a 14-5 record in conference games, and defeated Boston College 14-3 in five innings last season at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.
Eligible teams will qualify for the 2014 ACC Championship, which will be held May 8-10 at Robert E. Taylor Stadium in College Park, Md. Maryland will serve as the tournament host in its final season as an ACC member.
NCAA Regionals are set to begin May 15 at various campus sites, with Super Regionals to follow starting on May 22. The 2014 Women's College World Series will be held May 29-June 4 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Tickets for the 2014 season are expected to go on sale early in January. For more information, contact the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office, located inside the Rosenthal Atrium at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. The ticket office is open from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, and also can be reached by phone at (574) 631-7356. In addition, tickets may be purchased online through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web page (UND.com/tickets) -- all major credit cards are accepted and service charges may apply.
For the latest news and information on the Notre Dame softball team, follow the Irish @NDsoftball and @NDcoachGumpf on Twitter, and Like the team at Facebook.com/NDSoftball.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant