SOUTH BEND – Muffet McGraw, head coach of the University of Notre Dame’s National Championship women’s basketball team, will be honored on the field this Saturday evening, prior to the home opener between the South Bend Cubs and the West Michigan Whitecaps. McGraw will also throw out the ceremonial first pitch that opens the 2018 season.
“What an amazing season,” said Andrew T. Berlin, Owner of the South Bend Cubs. “This team and this coach are riveting. All season long they’ve shown what it means to never give up. And they certainly showed us that same perseverance—that same spirit and skill in the national championship game on Sunday night. So, we want to honor them this Saturday evening with the most important symbol in baseball—the first pitch of the entire season.”
After an injury plagued start to the 2017-18 season, which saw four Irish players lost to injury, Notre Dame won its second National Championship by beating Mississippi State 61-58. Forward Arike Ogunbawale scored the game winning three-point shot with three seconds left, two days after scoring a similar buzzer beater to knock out University of Connecticut in the semifinal game. The win was coach McGraw’s second national championship and 800th career win.
The South Bend Cubs are also dedicating fireworks at the end of the game to coach McGraw and the entire 2018 National Championship basketball team.
“I’m happy we can do this for the team,” added Joe Hart, President of the South Bend Cubs. “It was a great season, and an incredible championship game. Having Muffet McGraw, one of the greatest college coaches in history throw out our first pitch is an honor.”
Coach McGraw has compiled an 800–229 (.777) record over 31 seasons as head coach of the Irish women’s basketball team. She has led Notre Dame to eight Final Fours (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018), and won the National Championship in 2001 and 2018. McGraw was awarded the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Coach of the Year award, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year and the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 2001. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2016, the John R. Wooden award committee recognized McGraw with the 2017 Legends of Coaching Award.