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ND Softball: Squad looks to rebound after loss

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Following a one-run loss to Syracuse, the Irish look forward to a fresh start when they host Valparaiso tonight. The Crusaders (28-10, 12-0 Horizon League) carry an 11-game winning streak, but in the past 30 meetings of the two teams, the Irish (21-13, 5-3 Big East) have taken every victory.

This year’s squad hopes to reach number 31 tonight, but the Irish are not focused on the figure, according to junior catcher Amy Buntin.

“We have prepared for Valpo in the same way we prepare for any team, and focus on how we can be the best Notre Dame softball team,” Buntin said.

Notre Dame’s most recent loss Sunday came courtesy of a pair of home runs by Syracuse in the seventh and eighth innings. The Irish also struggled to find hits and shut down the Orange bats. While Notre Dame put together two hits, Syracuse managed 10.

The Irish split with Syracuse on the first day of their series, winning the first game 4-3 before falling 8-2 in the afternoon. In the win, the Irish handled Syracuse’s nine runs with tough defense. This weekend, Buntin said the team knows defense is key in preventing opportunities for its opponent.

“Coming off those two losses from Syracuse, we need to be able to shut the door or finish the game,” Buntin said. “We were able to produce runs, but we gave Syracuse too many opportunities to score.”

Valparaiso brings senior pitcher Sam McGee to South Bend, recently named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week after pitching a pair of shutouts last week. McGee also holds the program’s record for career victories, and boasts a 33-inning stretch void of earned runs.

McGee may not appear in this game if the Crusaders choose to save her for their three-game series against UIC beginning Saturday, but if she does, the Irish lineup is ready to shatter her streak, Buntin said.

“Tomorrow we plan on playing seven innings of Notre Dame softball,” Buntin said. “We have to focus on winning each inning by playing solid defense and putting the ball in play hard. Having confidence in our team that we can get the job done is another key aspect that needs to change within our team.”

The first pitch in Notre Dame’s matchup with Valpraiso will be thrown at 5 p.m. tonight in Melissa Cox Stadium.


Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu