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ND Softball: Team shines on West Coast trip

Laura Coletti | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Notre Dame was dominant over spring break, turning in an impressive 7-2 record during its stint on the West Coast.

Notre Dame (19-7) kicked off its week at the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., scraping out a 2-1 win over New Mexico State on March 9 before falling to UC Davis, 5-4. The finale of the tournament one day later saw the Irish blank New Mexico State (15-12), 5-0.

Irish senior captain and catcher Amy Buntin said a good start to the week was important to the team’s performance.

“We carried our momentum well into spring break and started off strong in Arizona,” she said. “Our goal going into the break was to get better every game and prepare ourselves for conference play. Our coaches were happy to see that our team fights no matter what the score.”

Junior pitcher Laura Winter was named Big East Pitcher of the Week for her performance over the first weekend. Winter posted a 2-0 record and an ERA of just 0.47 over three games.

The Irish continued their strong play into the week as they traveled to Cal State Fullerton for the Judi Garman Classic. Notre Dame took down Cal State Fullerton, 3-0, on March 13 before falling against No. 14 Arizona the following day, falling 2-0. Senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said the loss to the Wildcats is a game the Irish wish they could have back.

“We realized that that was our game to win, but we didn’t bring our best Notre Dame softball to the field that day,” she said. “We realize now that, in order to beat the best, we have to always be at our best.”

The squad closed out their time in California at the Highlander Classic hosted by UC Riverside. On March 15, the Irish took Northern Illinois to extra innings and squeaked out a 3-2 victory during their first game of the day, and then won a shortened five-inning game against Iona, 12-0. Buntin attributed the team’s success to its defensive play over the course of the week.

“Our defense was solid with [sophomore outfielder] Emilee Koerner having some diving plays in center field,” she said. “One thing we would like to see is better consistency throughout the line-up.”

The Irish closed out the tournament March 16 with two more victories over Iona and Northern Illinois, winning 12-4 and 2-0, respectively. The Irish have now won 15 of their last 17 games.

“Our team is very confident heading into conference play,” Buntin said. “We know if we play Notre Dame softball for seven innings, no opponent in conference will be a close match.”     

Notre Dame begins conference play Saturday when it travels to South Orange, N.J., to face Seton Hall.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu