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Softball: Diamond woes prolonged

Jay Fitzpatrick | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Loyola-Chicago left fielder Nora Schober drove a 2-1 pitch from Irish right-hander Brittney Bargar to the gap in left-center field for the go-ahead runs in the Ramblers’ 6-4 win against Notre Dame Tuesday.

The loss to Loyola-Chicago (16-37, 8-8 Horizon) was Notre Dame’s (34-18, 14-4 Big East) fourth in a row. It was especially tough for Bargar, who surrendered three earned runs on seven hits in her three innings of work.

Bargar came into the game with a 4-2 lead, but found herself in a first inning jam after surrendering two singles and a walk. But the Irish pitcher recovered after a runner was caught stealing and a pop-up to left.

Bargar would not be so lucky in the next two innings, giving up two runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

“I believed in Bargar and thought she could beat these guys,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “She just couldn’t get it done.”

In the sixth, mental errors hurt the Irish. Two of the Ramblers’ three hits were bunt singles, including one single in which catcher Erin Glasco and first baseman Linda Kohan ran into each other, allowing all runners to advance without an out being made.

“There was absolutely no communication,” Gumpf said. “Everyone was waiting for someone else to lead the team.”

Bargar’s performance wasted a strong outing by starter Heather Booth, who pitched four innings, gave up two runs, two hits and struck out three. But Barger had little run support after she entered the game, as the Irish had only three of their nine hits after the fourth inning. The offense was also unable to drive in runners in scoring position in the final three innings of the game.

“I think we just didn’t come out with an intense attitude,” Irish third baseman Meagan Ruthrauff said. “We’ve been playing on our heels a lot and that’s become a trend for us lately.”

With only four games left this season – a pair of doubleheaders this weekend against Seton Hall and St. John’s – Notre Dame will need to rebound quickly to get back to its winning ways before the Big East championships start May 11.

The final four Big East games will be crucial for the Irish to build momentum heading into the postseason.

“This weekend hugely affects us for the postseason,” Gumpf said. “If you are set to play us in the postseason, you are looking at us and thinking we are tanking at the wrong time of the season.”

As for the postseason itself, the team cannot start to get ready for the Big East tournament because getting back on the right track is more important at this point.

“We need to get four wins out of this weekend,” Ruthrauff said. “It is crucial for our morale to turn it up a notch.”