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ND Softball: ND looks to end losing streak

Molly Sammon | Friday, February 19, 2010

The Irish opened the season with an 11-3 victory over Creighton, but now Notre Dame finds itself looking to end a four-game losing streak when it plays another four games over the weekend at the Southern Miss Mizuno Classic.

The Irish (1-4) will play Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss Saturday followed by Alcorn State and Stephen F. Austin State University Sunday.

“Our goal for this upcoming weekend is to put out the best Notre Dame product out on the field,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I don’t believe we have done this yet.”

Last weekend, the Irish lost to the defending national champion and top ranked Washington Huskies, Oregon State, Oregon and Auburn after opening the season successfully against Creighton.

“Every team we play will give us challenges,” Gumpf said. “We are facing good opponents. Our main focus is on us, making sure we are playing consistent, hard, tough softball.”

For each of last weekend’s losses, one bad inning or one bad play changed Notre Dame’s confidence on the field and at the plate.

The Irish have been working on changing different aspects of the game to make sure to eliminate the small mistakes this coming weekend.

“Primarily we focused on our defense being more aggressive on the short game and working with on field communication during situations,” assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. “Offensively we have been working on attacking first pitch strikes and executing situations in order to score more runs.”

After working on different areas of their defense and offense, Gumpf said she feels confident about the talent of this year’s team.

“I believe we have what we need to be successful in all three facets of the game.  We have strong pitching, solid defense and great hitters,” Gumpf said. “We are a very good team that hasn’t put our best product on the field yet.”

In addition to the four losses at Arizona State last weekend, the Irish also lost sophomore infielder and power hitter Dani Miller due to a back injury.

Miller’s status for this weekend is still not determined, but Ganeff claims that this setback will not determine the Irish’s chances of pulling out a few wins this weekend.

“[Miller] is a great competitor who brings a lot to the field, but we know that we have depth on the bench ready to fill in if anyone of our starters go out with an injury,” Ganeff said.

The Irish consistently play difficult teams during the beginning of their season with the intention of getting good field experience in before their Big East games. The preparation necessary to be ready for in-conference games makes each of the early games important as the Irish hope for a repeat Big East Championship win and another ring this season.

“Every game we play is important,” Gumpf said. “We need to start gaining some momentum and consistency.”

Tournament play begins for the Irish Saturday at 3 p.m. at Hattiesburg, Miss.