Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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92 MARCH 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE A s a vivid illustration into how fortunes and attitude have improved inside the Notre Dame baseball program, a 34-win season in 2021 that included a first-ever ACC regular-season championship and an NCAA regional title, and ended only one win short of qualifying for its first College World Series since 2002 became reason for motivation and not celebration. "The way it ended, the guys are still upset," Notre Dame head coach Link Jar- rett recalled of an 11-7 loss to eventual national champion Mississippi State in the third game of a best-of-three series that sent the winner to the College World Series last June. "They're still hungry." And that's the quick and remarkable energy and success Jarrett has brought to this flat-lined program as he enters his third season in the Irish dugout. "Through all the success that we had, and some of it was the first time we tasted it in the ACC in baseball, I don't think they feel glamorous about it," Jar- rett explained of the team's mindset heading into 2022. Picked during the 2021 preseason to finish last in the Atlantic Division of the ACC, Notre Dame shocked the col- legiate baseball world by winning all but one of its 11 three-game conference se- ries last season, sweeping three. The Irish never lost two consecutive games last year, and they cleared the rest of the league by four games in the final ACC standings. Notre Dame followed its conference season with a dominating three-game run as the host school and champion of the South Bend Regional before having its season end heartbreakingly at the Super Regional in Starkville, Miss. "They know how close we were," said Jarrett, who earned ACC Coach of the Year and Division I National Baseball Coach of the Year honors in 2021. With a talented, experienced and deep core of returning players in 2022, expec- tations have drastically risen for Notre Dame this preseason. The Irish were ranked as high as No. 4 in the national preseason polls and projected third in the ACC behind Florida State and NC State. The Irish suffered a few key departures from last year's memorable team, most notably, All-American slugger Niko Ka- vadas, workhorse relief pitcher Joe Sheri- dan and right-hander Tanner Kohlhepp. Kavadas — an 11th-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox — finished third nationally with 22 home runs as a senior last season, and Jarrett admits that fill- ing that big production void might come from more "small ball" in 2022. "My hope in trying to absorb his pro- duction loss is through maybe a little more action-oriented approach in the lineup, top-to-bottom," Jarrett said. "There were times last year we sat still on the bases by design just to get Niko up to bat." Still piecing his lineup puzzle to- gether, Jarrett expects senior Carter Putz, a second-team All-ACC selection at designated hitter last season, to take over for Kavadas at first base. Senior Expectations Are High For Another Great Irish Baseball Season Notre Dame will be led on the mound by preseason All-American John Michael Bertrand, who had a team-high 92 2 ⁄3 innings pitched a year ago for the regular-season ACC champions. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Five Spring Student-Athletes To Watch The following are the top returning Irish student-athletes to watch during the spring sports season: Women's lacrosse junior Kasey Choma: A preseason All-American per Inside Lacrosse, the Irish midfielder netted a goal in 17 of 18 games last season and led her squad with 45 goals and 50 points. Men's lacrosse junior Pat Kavanagh: A 2022 preseason All-American and All-ACC selection, this gifted attackman led the Irish last season with 64 points coming on 26 goals and 38 assists. Remarkably for an attackman, he also was third on the team with 35 ground balls. Men's golf junior Palmer Jackson: Ranked as the No. 9 collegiate golfer by, the Irish leader was recently named one of 15 players to the Final Fall Fred Haskins Award watch list, an honor given annually to the nation's top college golfer. Men's track and field graduate student Yared Nuguse: A two-time national distance champion at Notre Dame and a 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics competitor, this decorated Irish cross country and track athlete recently ran a 3:54.46 mile at the Notre Dame Invitational, a personal best and the second-fastest mile time in the country this season. Women's track and field graduate student Rachel Tanczos: This accomplished thrower is a multiple time event champion, a regular on the All-ACC indoor and outdoor teams, and is ranked among of the top weight throwers in the country. — Todd D. Burlage

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