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ND Softball: ND aims to keep streak alive

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Irish carry six straight wins into the final game of their opening home series this afternoon against Northwestern. Since defeating Western Michigan in their home opener March 27, Notre Dame has triumphed over Toledo in a double-header and Connecticut in a three-game matchup.

“Coming off a home sweep of UConn, the Wildcats can expect to see a very confident Irish defense and offense,” junior catcher Amy Buntin said.

Hitting does not seem to be a problem for the Irish (17-10, 3-0 Big East), who have averaged nearly seven runs per game during the home stretch. The squad has most recently looked to senior outfielder Alexa Maldonado and Buntin as leaders in the lineup. In the home opener last week, Buntin hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh to seal the Irish victory against Western Michigan.

“I just hope to keep putting the ball in play hard, and making the Wildcat defense work,” Buntin said.

The junior contributed three hits and Maldonado added two in the final game against Connecticut, which the Irish won 7-2. Freshman infielder Katey Haus also stepped up for the Irish, adding two hits.

On the mound, sophomore Laura Winter has found success with strikeouts and keeping runners off the bases. In the last game against Connecticut, she struck out four Huskies and managed to avoid issuing a single walk.

While the Irish have a string of victories, Buntin said they come to each game with the same mentality.

“Honestly, as a team we approach each game with the same composure and confidence no matter who our opponent might be that day,” Buntin said.

Northwestern (14-18, 2-4 Big Ten) is coming off an 8-3 win against Wisconsin in which the team scored six runs in the fifth inning to take the lead after a slow start. Junior pitcher Meghan Lamberth led the strong defensive side for Northwestern, yielding just seven hits to the Badgers.

Notre Dame looks to conclude its home stand against the Wildcats in the same manner as its first six home games.

“I think anytime we play at home, we are at a great advantage thanks to our fan support each and every game,” Buntin said. “Without our fans, this game would not be nearly as exciting.”

The Irish take on Northwestern on Wednesday with first pitch thrown out at 5 p.m. in Melissa Cox Stadium.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu