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ND Softball: ND looks to bounce back in Jacksonville

Michael Bryan | Friday, March 2, 2007

Defending Big East champion Notre Dame will look to return to its winning form in Florida this weekend, playing five games in the Jacksonville Tournament after a tough start to the season.The Irish (4-6) will begin the tournament today with a matchup against Virginia. The Cavaliers have a 7-9 record after going 2-4 in the Palm Springs Classic last weekend. Notre Dame has never lost to Virginia in four all-time meetings.On Saturday the Irish will face off against host Jacksonville (3-12) in a doubleheader. The Dolphins enter the tournament with losses in 10 of their last 11 games.Notre Dame will end the tournament Sunday with a doubleheader against No. 13 Michigan. The Wolverines (14-1) have put together a 12-game winning streak, the last of those wins giving coach Carol Hutchins her 1,000th career victory.The Irish will have to find a way to hit Michigan pitchers Lorilyn Wilson and Nikki Nemitz. Wilson enters the tournament with an 8-1 record and 0.70 ERA, and Nemitz is 6-0 this season with a 1.51 ERA.The Irish played in the Palm Beach Classic last weekend, going 2-3. The team played two very competitive games early, but lost 7-3 to No. 9 Oklahoma and 7-5 to No. 19 California. The loss to California was Notre Dame’s fourth in a row to the Golden Bears. Against UNLV, the Irish rallied with two outs in the seventh to tie the game on a single from Linda Kohan. Junior Katie Laing singled home Carissa Jaquish in extra innings to give Notre Dame a much needed 4-3 win.In the next game against Cal-State Fullerton, the Irish fell 2-0 despite a complete game four-hitter by senior Kenya Fuemmeler. Titans’ pitcher Candice Baker threw a three-hit shutout for the win.The Irish wrapped up the tournament with a 3-1 win over Ole Miss. Kohan had another stellar performance in the game, hitting a two-RBI single in the fifth for the decisive runs.Senior Stephanie Brown has led the Irish offensively this season, hitting .455 and leading the Big East in hits. The captain went 11-for-18 with five runs scored and three stolen bases in the Palm Springs tournament.The other Irish standout so far has been sophomore pitcher Brittney Bargar. Bargar picked up the win in both Notre Dame wins in Palm Springs.