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ND Softball: Irish anticipate tough competition

Katie Heit | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Irish will face a difficult break as they head to California to play nine games in just eight days.

Senior outfielder Alexa Maldonado said keeping focused in the warm and sunny state will be a challenge.

“We look at it as sort of a business trip,” Maldonado said. “Although we are on break, the fact of the matter is that we are there to do one thing — to win games. From the time we wake up to the time the games for the day are over, we focus on the games.”

Notre Dame (7-6) faces its first competition Saturday in Lakewood, Calif. when it takes on Oregon State (17-5) to open the Long Beach State Invite. The Irish will also play Charleston Southern (10-7) and UNLV (9-10) in the tournament.

Maldonado said a major draw to the difficult week is the caliber of competition that the Irish will be facing.

“I am most excited to play great competition,” Maldonado said. “We play a lot of teams that are ranked nationally, so it will be great to see where our team is at.”

After the Long Beach State Invite, the Irish will travel to Los Angeles for a contest against Loyola Marymount (13-9) on Tuesday. Finally, the Irish will round out their weekend with five games in Fullteron, Calif. Notable competition includes Michigan (15-5) and Arizona State (21-2).

“The team goals for the break are to play the best softball every game,” Maldonado said. “We need to start getting on a roll and take it to the rest of the season.”

So far this season, the Irish have struggled with consistency. Maldonado said the team focused primarily on minimizing errors during this week’s practices.

Maldonado said she wants to be a leader to the younger girls on her team during the long stretch of games.

“My personal expectations are to be a great spark for this team both offensively and defensively,” Maldonado said. “I want my teammates to feed off my intensity.”

The Irish will begin their week Saturday in Lakewood, Calif., against Oregon State at 2 p.m.


Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu