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ND Softball: Irish begin homestand with Western Michigan

Katie Heit | Tuesday, March 27, 2012

After three consecutive rain postponements, the Irish are eager for some nice weather and tough competition as they prepare for a long stretch of home games, beginning with a matchup against Western Michigan on Tuesday.

The Irish (11-10) have not competed in more than a week after playing eight games in seven days over spring break. The contest against Western Michigan (11-9) will begin a series of six home games in the next six days, including doubleheaders against Toledo (7-17) and Connecticut (10-11).

Senior outfielder Alexa Maldonado said the break the postponements caused has given the players a chance to recover from their spring break competitions.

“We’ve been able to rest, which has been great,” Maldonado said. “A lot of girls today were saying that their bodies felt fresh. We’ve been practicing and working on what we needed to learn from and we’re just moving forward from here.”

Maldonado said that the stretch of home games looks more daunting than it actually is.

“I actually don’t think it’s as hard as it sounds,” Maldonado said. “Once we start winning, we get on a roll and it keeps us fresh in the game mentally. When we’re practicing nonstop, it gets monotonous. It’s good to just play and see what we’ve been working on this whole season.”

In 2011, Western Michigan ended Notre Dame’s 21-game home winning streak, the fifth-longest in the country at the time. Senior infielder Dani Miller said the Irish are taking this game seriously, as they learned last year that Western Michigan is a threat.

“I don’t think we can ever take a team lightly,” Miller said. “We just plan to play our game and we know we can do well against any team.”

Maldonado said the loss last year was a result of the Irish being overconfident in the matchup with the Broncos.

“We played down to their level and we let them inch up behind us and beat us,” Maldonado said. “It’s one of those losses where you just think, ‘I can’t believe that just happened.'”

Maldonado said a win against Western Michigan will give Notre Dame the momentum it needs as it heads into conference play this weekend.

“We want to come out hard, come out playing our top game and come out with a big win,” Maldonado said. “We want to roll into conference play on a win and ultimately go undefeated in conference.”

Both Maldonado and Miller said the Irish will attempt to cut down on small errors and encourage one another to stay positive.

Notre Dame will take on Western Michigan Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu