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ND Softball: Irish look to rebound, travel to California

Jared Jedick | Thursday, February 28, 2008

Notre Dame (4-5) looks to rebound from a tough showing last week and start hitting the ball hard during a long west coast road trip over of spring break.

The first leg, The Worth Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., consists of three games, two on Saturday and one on Sunday, against Pacific (5-9), UC Davis (9-7) and Cal State Fullerton (5-6-1).

Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said she would like to see a marked improvement in her squad over the break, as she believes their trouble hitting is keeping them from living up to their potential.

“I am absolutely not satisfied with our record,” Gumpf said. “We are a much better team than the way we are playing right now.”

Gumpf said her team needs to be more aggressive.

“We have been a very reactionary team thus far, and I would like to see us become much more aggressive,” Gumpf said.

The Irish pitching staff, highlighted by junior Brittney Bargar and freshman Jody Valdivia, has two shutouts in the young season.

“The pitchers look really good,” Gumpf said. “I would like to see them have some runs to work with.”

The hitting, however, has been a much different story. The Irish have averaged 2.67 runs per game.

“We need to jump on good pitchers early,” Gumpf said. “If we take an aggressive approach we will be very good.”

With great pitching, defense, and team speed, the Irish have the potential to be exceptional this year if the bats start to heat up, Gumpf said.

“I think our team speed has been cancelled out by not getting hits,” Gumpf said. “If we can get some base-runners, we will score a lot.”

Especially important to the Irish bats’ success will be senior outfielder Sarah Smith.

“Sarah needs to put the ball in play,” Gumpf said. “When she hits the ball, she is very hard to get out, and that could give us a spark.”

The Irish will face three teams from the Big West Conference, and the Irish expect to face a strong lineup and a solid pitching staff.

“The Big West is known for its hitting,” Gumpf said. “But we also expect to see some decent pitching. So we need to hit the ball well one through nine to compete.”

After the Worth Invitational, the Irish will take a day off before traveling to Riverside, Calif., to take on UC Riverside (4-9), another Big West team.

The Irish will then take a short one-day break before getting right back on the horse and competing in the five-game Long Beach State Invitational from March 7-9.

The Irish will take on UCLA (14-2), Long Beach State (8-6), Virginia Tech (9-4), Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge (5-10).

The Bruins have won their last eight games and will provide the most difficult test for the Irish during the trip