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ND Softball: Irish play host to Valparaiso

Meaghan Veselik | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Propelled by junior pitcher Jody Valdivia’s fourth Big East Pitcher of the Week honor, the No. 24 Irish will face Valparaiso this afternoon in a non-conference home game.
Notre Dame (34-7, 12-1 Big East) is coming off a tight 3-1 win over No. 25 Louisville Sunday.

Valdivia’s award was well- deserved this past week, as she won five games without allowing a single earned run over 27.1 innings. Although it is her fourth honor this season, Valdivia has not let it get to her head. Instead, she keeps the entire Notre Dame squad in her focus.

“It has been the greatest, experiencing receiving four Pitcher of the Week honors,” Valdivia said. “On top of that, it has been wonderful how well the entire team has been doing with weekly honors as well.”

Even with her accomplishments, Valdivia said she still sees room for improvement as she continues the hard work she has put in to this point. She said she also uses the awards as greater motivation to succeed. 

“This year my approach has really been one game at a time and one inning at a time, and it has helped me through some tough games,” Valdivia said. “I am always working on improving my pitching throughout the entire season, and being a recipient of the weekly awards is a great incentive.”

The Irish have certainly faced challenging opponents this season, and Valdivia’s contributions from the circle have certainly aided in putting the Irish in their positions in the conference and the national spotlight. Notre Dame continues to hold the top record in the Big East heading into Wednesday’s match against the Crusaders (27-12, 7-3 Horizon).

“Our defense and offense have been excellent this season,” Valdivia said. “We are always working on improving both, of course, but they have been doing a really good job of keeping us in games and controlling other teams.”

The Irish may have suffered their first loss in nine games over the weekend, but with Sunday’s win and their success this spring, they are not letting anything hold them back as they enter the final stretch of the season. With Valdivia on the mound, don’t expect Notre Dame to hit the breaks anytime soon.

“I feel this team is the strongest it has ever been, and we are only gaining more momentum as we approach the Big East tournament and postseason,” Valdivia said. Facing the Crusaders only gives the Irish another chance to keep their energy up and work toward their next Big East opponent, DePaul, who they will face Saturday.

“We have played Valpo for a couple of years now,” Valdivia said. “While we look at these midweek games as preparation for our Big East games, we know we have a job at hand of picking up a win.”

Looking for another win at home, Valdivia and the rest of the team are keeping their sights set on the Crusaders, and them only.

“We are excited to get at bats from their pitchers and to face hitters to work out some stuff, but as always when we hit the field Wednesday, Valpo is our number one opponent,” Valdivia said.

The Irish take on Valparaiso today at 4 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.