#26 Notre Dame Softball 2015 Preview

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #2 ACC
#26 Notre Dame Softball 2015 Preview
Notre Dame Team Page


When you think of softball, Notre Dame is not the first school that often comes to mind. The truth is, it should. The Fighting Irish continued a string of 40-win seasons when it went over 40 victories for the sixth year in a row. Notre Dame also came within a whisker of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship but it ended up in second place. Because Notre Dame has a large number of letterwinners returning to the roster, the future in South Bend is looking quite bright. The question is can Notre Dame continue a string of 26 straight winning seasons and 16 trips to the NCAA tournament? The answer is likely yes on both counts, thanks to a mixture of power, speed and timely hitting and pitching.

2014: 41-13, 16-5
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Deanna Gumpf

Field Players:
One of Notre Dame’s most dangerous bats comes in the form of junior Micaela Arizmendi (.382-15-61), who also smashed 17 doubles and slugged at a .790 clip for an incredible season. Seniors Emilee Koerner (.433-11-51) and Cassidy Whidden (.336-11-35) also provide plenty of pop to the lineup, and all of that home-run hitting suggests Notre Dame will be very strong once again. Although sophomore Karley Wester isn’t really a power hitter, her .455 average, 81 hits and 26 stolen bases suggest a game full of average and speed. That makes up for a lack of power and introduces another dangerous element to the Fighting Irish game. Senior Jenna Simon also stole 20 bases, so this team is loaded for bear in terms of hitting and speed on the basepaths. That will help the Fighting Irish navigate a strong ACC schedule.

Two top pitchers return to the roster, including sophomore reliever Rachel Nasland (6-1, 2.98 ERA) and junior Allie Rhodes (6-5, 57 strikeouts). This could be a potential issue, however, if the team can’t develop other hurlers. Laura Winter had a 29-7 record, 28 complete games and 268 strikeouts, and her loss will be felt for a while (or at least until Notre Dame develops more pitching down the stretch). There aren’t too many players gone from the Notre Dame program, but a pitcher the caliber of Winter is not easily replaced. Nasland was mostly a reliever, but she could be converted over to a starter if need be.

Who to Watch:
Two pitchers will be key to the Notre Dame program, and both joined the team as freshmen this season. Katie Beriont is a freshman from Colts Neck, New Jersey and Sara White is from San Diego. Beriont is a left-handed pitcher while White throws right. One of these pitchers will likely earn some playing time in the spring schedule, if not both. It would help Notre Dame immensely to have these pitchers be brought along nicely in order to keep the Fighting Irish from sliding too far in the standings.

Final Projection:
Early season matchups against UCLA and LSU, two of the top 15 programs in the country, will be big, as well as games against Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. Get the feeling Notre Dame isn’t shying away from any competition? There’s a reason why that schedule has to be tough. Notre Dame will have plenty of tests under its belt by the time ACC play gets underway, and that includes Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina. The big question mark revolves around Winter and whether her graduation will hurt the Fighting Irish pitching staff. The bet here is that it won’t, and Notre Dame should have its seventh straight 40-win season.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Karley Wester, OF, 178
Hits: Karley Wester, OF, 81
Home Runs: Micaela Arizmendi, IF, 15
RBIs: Micaela Arizmendi, IF, 61
Runs: Emilee Koerner, OF, 65
Stolen Bases: Karley Wester, OF, 26

Wins: Rachel Nasland, P, 6; Allie Rhodes, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Allie Rhodes, P, 82.1
Strikeouts: Allie Rhodes, P, 57
Complete Games: Allie Rhodes, P, 2

Madness 2015 Draft Rankings:
#13 Emilee Koerner


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