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ND Softball: ND heads west for tourneys

Dan Murphy | Friday, March 9, 2007

Notre Dame heads west to California once again to play in two tournaments over spring break. The Irish continue their tough early schedule next week with three ranked teams, including No. 2 Arizona State.

The Sun Devils (22-2) have held opponents to two or less runs in 17 of their wins so far this season, including seven shutout victories. They will face Notre Dame to open up the Judi Garman Classic March 15 at 9 a.m.

The Irish will square off with No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette in the same tournament and No. 12 UCLA Sunday in the second game of the Long Beach Invitational.

The Irish are 0-3 so far this season against ranked opponents, most recently losing a 1-0 pitcher’s duel to No. 9 Michigan March 4.

The Fresno State Bulldogs and Eastern Kentucky University round out the rest of Notre Dame’s scheduled opponents over the break. The Irish will also play two more games that will be decided by how they fare in the round robin part of the tournament.

First up for the Irish is Eastern Kentucky, who has been inconsistent so far this season. The Colonels still pose a quick scoring threat, with freshman Shyenne Hussey leading the offense. Hussey has 12 RBIs and four home runs with a .600 batting average in her first 12 collegiate games. The rookie was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the week Feb. 26.

Sophomore pitcher Brittany Bargar will have the task of shutting her down. Bargar is 6-3 so far on the season, tying her for the most wins of any pitcher in the Big East. She also leads the conference in strikeouts with 58, averaging slightly more than one per inning.

Senior Kenya Fuemmeler (1-4, 4.25 ERA) will get the ball for the second game of the afternoon against the Bruins. UCLA is in its first year under new head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez after long-time skipper Sue Enquist resigned at the end of last season. Enquist defeated Notre Dame three times – most recently in 2005 – while coaching the Bruins.

Inouye-Perez has her team off to a solid start so far this season with a 15-6 record. So far, UCLA has been getting it done with the long ball. As a team, the Bruins hit 31 home runs in their first 21 games. In Wednesday’s 8-1 win over Cal State Fullerton, the team hit five dingers, including one in the very first at-bat from junior outfielder Krista Colburn.

After Sunday, the Irish will have four days off before making the short 25-mile trip to Fullerton to play the rest of their games.

The Observer could not reach team members Thursday.