ND Softball: Irish face Big East opponent
Jack Yusko | Friday, April 15, 2011
After a full week of games, the Irish will play three more this weekend against Big East opponent Louisville. Notre Dame comes into the series with a 12 game winning streak and an undefeated 5-0 record in conference play.
The Irish (29-7) have Thursday and Friday to practice before a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday. Freshman pitcher Laura Winters said that the team has been using this opportunity to hone their skills.
“Our focus has just been on keeping the fundamentals strong and not getting overwhelmed,” Winters said. “We need to keep up the game we have been playing and not worry about anything else.”
Louisville (31-11) just had a 12 game winning streak broken, is 9-2 in conference play and looks to bring some of the stiffest competition the Irish have seen. However, the players are determined to treat this game like any other, regardless of Louisville’s performance or record.
“All we have to do is go into the game thinking Louisville will have their best game and that we need to bring our best as well,” Winters said.
With Big East standings on the line, these games become even more crucial for rankings and important to the players themselves. Notre Dame has fewer conference wins than Louisville, and this series has the potential to make or break the Irish goal of winning the Big East.
The players are treating this weekend as an opportunity to make a statement about their play and competitiveness for the postseason.
“Playing our game will be very important,” Winters said. “If they aren’t as strong of a team as we expect, we need to come out and bury them. If they are, we will be prepared to fight it out.”
The Irish will be participating in more than just this three game series against Louisville, as the team is hosting Strike Out Cancer, an event that raises both money and awareness for cancer patients.
The event is especially poignant this year as the squad will stand beside Irish coach Deanna Gumpf’s five year old daughter, Tatum, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last summer. Money raised will be donated to the pediatric oncology wing of the South Bend Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Notre Dame hosts Louisville Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. and again Sunday at noon.