Tony Jones | February 9, 2017
The University of Notre Dame softball team officially begins its 2017 schedule this weekend, traveling to the state of California for two separate tournament stops. The Irish begin the new campaign with four games at the Beach Kickoff Tournament on Feb. 10-11 at Long Beach State, and close the West Coast road swing as part of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament on Feb. 12 at No. 8 UCLA.
Irish Slap Hits
• Notre Dame enters 2017 with a 1,146-494-3 (.698) all-time record, 30 combined conference championships (19 regular season, 11 tournament) and 21 NCAA Regional appearances, which has included 18 straight berths into the NCAA Championship tournament.
• Notre Dame secured the 18th 40-win season in program history by posting a 43-13 (.768) mark in 2016. The Irish have surpassed the 40-win plateau in each of the past eight seasons, and in 11 of the last 13 campaigns overall.
• Notre Dame won 19 straight games from Feb. 20 to March 25 of 2016, outscoring opponents by a combined 158-41 in those victories. The streak marked the second straight season that the Irish won 19 or more consecutive games during a given stretch (24 straight wins from March 15-April 22 in 2015).
• Notre Dame was slotted 22nd in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Coaches Poll that was released on Jan. 31. It marked just the second time Notre Dame has opened three consecutive seasons in the top 25 coaches poll in program history (2001-03) after checking in 24th in 2016 and 22nd in 2015. The Irish were also 22nd in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25.
• Senior captain Karley Wester was named to the Top 50 Watch List for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award on Feb. 1. Wester earned a spot on the watch list for the third straight preseason, and was a top 10 finalist in 2016 and a top 26 finalist in 2015 for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. Wester was invited to January’s USA Softball National Team Selection Camp in Clearwater, Florida, and enters the season as the active NCAA leader with 256 career hits.