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ND Softball: Irish host three games on senior weekend

Jack Yusko | Friday, April 29, 2011

Coming off a pair of big victories against South Florida Wednesday, highlighted by a no-hitter from freshman pitcher Laura Winters, the No. 22 Irish have no intention of slowing down. The team now returns to South Bend for senior weekend to play a three-game series against Big East opponent St. John’s.

“We’ve been playing tremendously,” sophomore pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said. “I think the team is peaking at the right time of year.”

Notre Dame’s two most recent Big East victories in Tampa put its Big East record at 11-1. With three more conference wins up for grabs, the team is focused and informed about what to expect from its upcoming opponents.

“After playing these teams year after year our coaches have compiled very detailed scouting reports,” freshman outfielder Lauren Stuhr said. “We know what to expect with each team we face. When we have had practice, we’ve been taking a lot of reps to make sure our fundamentals are perfect.”

The Irish (35-8) have played some of their best softball of the season lately, with stellar pitching complementing prolific hitting. Yet the team understands that while the Red Storm (19-26) may not have the strongest record, they have six Big East wins and should not be underestimated.

“We know that St. John’s is a competitive team with a strong hitting line up,” O’Donnell said. “We are preparing by taking it upon ourselves to put in the extra practice time, which really makes a difference.”

With senior weekend ceremonies and the season drawing to a close, Stuhr says the team is happy to be returning to Melissa Cook Stadium.

“I think there is a big advantage for us to be playing at home, especially this weekend,” Stuhr said. “It just feels comfortable playing in our own stadium with our own fans.”

As the season wraps up and the Big East tournament draws near, it is crucial that the team maintains its high standard of play in order to secure both national and conference rankings.

“If we focus on our game and continue to do the things we have been doing we should come out with three wins this weekend,” Stuhr said.

The Irish face St. John’s in a three-game series at home this weekend, with a doubleheader Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. and the final game Sunday at 11 a.m.