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ND Softball: Gumpf proud of road split

Mike Monaco | Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Irish closed out a nine-game West Coast road trip with a 2-2 split at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.

Notre Dame (11-10) got off to a hot start against Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday. The offense exploded with 12 runs in the first three innings, including five home runs from five different players. The Irish carried that momentum to a 16-0 victory in five innings. The offensive outburst represented the most runs scored by the Irish since 2009.

“I think we had some momentum coming off the [March 13th] game against Loyola Marymount,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “Our team did a great job finishing strong in that game and it gave us the momentum against Cal State Fullerton. We jumped on them early and kept attacking.”

The Irish pitching was also on top of its game, as the trio of sophomore Laura Winter and juniors Brittany O’Donnell and Jackie Bowe combined for the two-hit shutout. Gumpf said she was especially pleased with the performance of her pitchers considering the nature of the game.

“When you come out that fast offensively it’s tough to stay focused,” Gumpf said. “Our pitching staff continued to let our offense take control of the game and it paid off. It was nice to get all three pitchers in and get them some good innings.”

Thursday was a different story, as the Irish bats were held in check. Notre Dame beat Iowa 2-0 before falling 2-1 to No. 17 Michigan.

Winter went the distance against Iowa (10-13) and finished with a two-hit shutout. The sophomore, who has six complete games and a 2.22 ERA, had a perfect game through three and two-thirds innings before giving up a single.

“[Winter] has been our go-to pitcher this whole year,” Gumpf said. “I think she just keeps getting better and better … She’s definitely composed. She does a nice job of keeping us in ball games and that’s all we expect from our pitchers – to keep us in games and give us a chance – and Laura has done a great job of putting us in that position.”

With Winter on top of her game, her battery-mate, junior catcher Amy Buntin, provided all the necessary offense. Buntin drove in two runs with a single up the middle in the third inning and the Irish held on for the win.

Against Michigan (17-9), Buntin drove a single to right field to drive in a run and give the Irish a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The Wolverines tied the game in the bottom of the second and the score remained knotted at one until the final frame as O’Donnell kept the Michigan offense at bay. The right-hander forced nine groundouts while scattering seven hits.
The Wolverines managed to break through in the bottom of the seventh as sophomore infielder Taylor Hasselbach ripped a walk-off single for the win.

The Irish were back on the field Friday against No. 3 Washington. The Huskies (26-1) held a 1-0 lead after three innings but opened things up with three runs in each of the next two frames.

Notre Dame did manage to score twice in the sixth inning after hits from Buntin and senior infielder Dani Miller were complemented by Washington miscues, but it was too late.
The Irish were scheduled to take on No. 5 Arizona State on Saturday morning, but the game was cancelled due to severe rain.

The Irish did learn from going up against top competition in Michigan and Washington, and Gumpf said she hopes to use that experience moving forward.

“I think it’s crazy if we don’t take something from every game we play,” Gumpf said. We took something beneficial from all eight games we had over spring break. I believe the Michigan and Washington games make us a better team. We got to face their pitching and their hitters, which is great because it shows us our weaknesses and what we need to work on.”

Earlier during spring break, Notre Dame beat Oregon State and Loyola Marymount and lost to Charleston Southern and UNLV at the Long Beach State Invite.

The Irish are back in action Saturday when they travel to Washington, D.C. to open up Big East play against Georgetown.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu