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ND Softball: Irish seek 12th straight win, take on Northern Illinois

Ernst Cleofe | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rain or shine, the Irish are looking to continue their recent 11-game wining streak against Northern Illinois on Tuesday.

The contest against Northern Illinois (19-31) and a game against Eastern Michigan on Thursday give Notre Dame (32-13, 13-3) a break between its Big East conference games. The Irish look to continue their winning streak against the Huskies, who have lost nine of their last 10 games.

While Northern Illinois does not seem to pose a strong threat to the Irish, senior captain and outfielder Alexa Maldonado said the contest will be a test of Notre Dame’s ability to stay focused.

“To be honest, I don’t know too much about them,” Maldonado said. “The game is going to be a nice break from our Big East schedule, but we still need to play well so we can keep our momentum.”

One other problem the Irish could face is something completely out of their control: rain. The game, previously scheduled for 5 p.m., has been moved forward to 4 p.m. to compensate for the sporadic weather.

In any case, Notre Dame will be ready for the weather conditions. In their last series in the rain, the Irish swept Seton Hall, 8-0 and 5-1.

“I don’t think the rain is going to affect us. Last time we played in the rain against Seton Hall and we played really well,” Maldonado said. “We have played in the rain before and we practice in the rain all the time. So, we’re used to it already.”

If nothing else, the game will be important to the Irish winning streak. With the Big East championship and postseason coming up, the Irish need to keep the positive momentum going.

“Right now this is the best we have played all year,” Maldonado said. “Our pitching is top notch. Our defense is playing great. Everything is clicking right now – and now our team chemistry is really high. We just have a lot of confidence in each other.”

With team chemistry high, the team has learned to rely on each other and the game has become fun.

“Honestly, there’s a lot less pressure out there and we are having fun out there,” Maldonado said. “If someone misses a hit, we know the person behind us can get the hit. We pick each other up and we have each other’s backs.”

The Irish hope to ride the wave of recent success against Northern Illinois at home today. The game starts at 4 p.m. in Melissa Cook Stadium.

Contact Ernst Cleofe at ecleofe@nd.edu