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ND Softball

Ali Wester shines in freshman season for Irish

| Thursday, April 7, 2016

For the last two seasons, Notre Dame has had the benefit of junior center fielder Karley Wester setting the table for the offense.

But this season, the Irish have doubled down on the Wester family at the top of the order due to the emergence of her sister, freshman second baseman Ali Wester.

Ali Wester was a premier talent at the high school level over the course of her career at Edison High School. In three of her four years, the Huntington Beach, California, native eclipsed a .420 batting average, including a .520 mark her senior year. She stole at least 20 bases in three seasons, was a two-year captain and was named to the MaxPreps All-State team her senior year.

Irish freshman Ali Wester second baseman slaps the ball into play during Notre Dame’s 5-4 win over Florida State on Sunday.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer
Irish freshman Ali Wester second baseman slaps the ball into play during Notre Dame’s 5-4 win over Florida State on Sunday.

And in her first year for the Irish, Wester has carried that success over to the collegiate level, making the transition seem almost effortless. Her .434 average ranks fourth in the ACC through 34 games, and her 49 hits and 1 stolen bases are second and fourth in the conference, respectively.

“The game of softball is always the same,” Wester said of the transition to the college game. “It’s a matter of a team sport, so it’s just working in sequence and getting together and making sure you’re always doing something for the team. That’s what I really strive to work for.”

She takes that same, team-first approach into the box with her every time steps up to the plate.

“My approach up to the plate is always to get a good pitch and see what I can do to help the team out,” Wester said.

Many freshman can find the experience of living away from home — especially when that home is over 2,000 miles away — difficult, and it can impact their performances on the field. For Wester, however, having an older sister on the team freed her of that stress and allowed her to concentrate on softball.

“It is definitely a ways away from home for me, but it was nice having an older sister here, so I had the whole family aspect,” Wester said. “So it was nice coming and not having to stress about home life and getting homesick because I did have a sister here.”

And while California might be a ways away from Indiana, the two sisters have made themselves a new home at the top of Notre Dame’s lineup this season. Ali Wester’s numbers are impressive, but Karley Wester is the sister who leads the Irish in batting average, hits, runs, and stolen bases.

While the younger Wester would like nothing more than to pass her sister in those categories, she said wouldn’t have things any other way either.

“It’s definitely a competition because we like to mess around with each other, but I love hitting behind my sister,” Wester said. “It’s easy when she gets on base and I look for her to steal second … it’s almost an automatic run for us, which is really nice.”

Ali Wester also isn’t afraid to admit that she’s modeled part of her skill set after her older sister.

“She’s a slapper, I’m a slapper — I definitely go with the whole small game,” Wester said. “She’s sometimes more of a power hitter than I am, but I focus more on the small game just like she does.”

That small game has worked well for both her and the Irish, as Wester has been an integral part of a Notre Dame offensive attack that ranks 10th in batting average and 12th in runs scored in the NCAA. And that’s all she could have ever wanted for her and her fellow classmates this season, she said.

“It’s really nice to make a difference on this team because I wanted to come in making a difference, and that was my whole goal,” Wester said. “… That was a goal as [a freshman class] — to make a difference — and so far we’ve done a great job of that.”

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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