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Softball: Experience an advantage

Laura Myers | Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Irish will have a wealth of experience on their side as they look to record their 21st consecutive winning season in 2009.

Notre Dame returns 14 monogram winners, including five all-Big East players. The squad only lost two seniors from the team that went 38-22-1 a year ago.

Leading the team is senior pitcher Brittany Bargar, who earned all-Big East honors as well as all-National Fastpitch Coaches Association Mideast Region honors in 2008. Bargar ended the season with a 1.47 ERA in 291.1 innings pitched.

Other returning players who earned all-conference honors are senior Linda Kohan, junior Christine Lux and sophomores Katie Fleury and Brianna Jorgensborg.

Kohan, who mainly plays third base, is an offensive force for the team. In 2008, she batted .302 and had an on-base percentage of .456.

Lux, a first baseman, is a power hitter who recorded 15 home runs in 2008.

Fleury, who plays second base and shortstop, is a solid defender and also hit .295 last season.

The team lost two seniors, Sarah Smith and Katie Laing. Both provided offensive power – Smith led the team with a .370 batting average. She also earned first team all-NFCA regional honors.

However, they gain four newcomers in freshmen Alexa Maldonado, Dani Miller, Kasey O’Connor and Kristina Wright.

The 2009 campaign begins this weekend as the Irish travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to participate in the ‘Bama Bash. The team will travel to warm-weather destinations to play in various invitationals through the rest of winter.

After a spring break trip to Fullerton, Cal., the Irish begin a six-game home stand on March 18.

This will be the team’s first full season in the new Melissa Cook Stadium, which was completed in April of 2008.

Their first Big East contest will be against St. John’s on March 22 at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish finished fourth in the Big East in 2008, but were voted third in this year’s Big East preseason poll, which was released in January. They are currently behind Depaul and Louisville, respectively.

This year’s Big East championships will be held in Louisville on May 7-9.

The Irish reached their 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2008. The team lost in extra innings to Kent State at a regional in Ann Arbor, Mich.

NCAA regionals will be held May 14-15 at various campus locations.