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ND SOFTBALL: Notre Dame will put its 10-game win streak on the line this afternoon against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Ivy Field.

Dan Murphy | Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Notre Dame will put its 10-game win streak on the line this afternoon against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Ivy Field. The team’s last loss was an 8-0 shutout at the hands of Pacific March 17 in the Judi Garman Classic. Since then, the Irish have won their first eight Big East matchups, as well as two non-conference victories over IUPUI and Toledo. All 10 wins have been a part of an 11-game home stand for Notre Dame that ends with this afternoon’s game.The Irish (19-12) started off the 2006 home season in similar fashion, winning their first seven games at Ivy Field while the 2005 club reached double-digits in home wins before surrendering their first loss in the white jerseys.During this year’s opening tear, the offense has cranked out 57 runs since the shutout against Pacific, and the pitching staff has given up only six runs during the stretch – including five shutouts in conference play. Sophomore ace Brittney Bargar has led the staff with three goose eggs to bring her season earned-run average to 2.00. Bargar was named to the Big East honor roll this week after giving up only one run and six hits in three wins. She also recorded her first career home run when she launched a game-winning, three-run blast to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning against Toledo. Senior Stephanie Brown received the conference’s highest honors, being named Big East player of the week for the first time in her career. The veteran center fielder scored five runs and knocked in four more while going 13-for-18 at the plate last week.Brown and the rest of the Irish bats will face a tough test when they face off against Crusader hurler Chris Halstead this afternoon. Halstead is 4-0 in her first eight appearances, averaging five strikeouts per contest. The Crusaders (14-8) come to South Bend with a 4-3 record on the road and have struggled to put up big offensive numbers all year. Valparaiso has only scored more than five runs in five of its first 22 games. On the season, the Crusaders are hitting .244 as a team.The South Bend weather may also play a key role in slowing down the offense for both teams this afternoon. The local forecast is calling for high temperatures in the 30s and a possibility of scattered snow showers throughout the day. After a month in sunny California, followed by two unseasonably warm weekends in the Midwest, neither team will be prepared for the drastic change in temperature.If the snow holds off, the opening pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.