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ND Softball: Irish hope to protect top spot in Big East

Laura Coletti | Friday, April 5, 2013

The Irish, fresh off the program’s 1000th all-time win, return home to face Villanova in a three-game weekend series beginning Saturday.

Notre Dame (24-8, 5-0 Big East) racked up wins No. 1000 and 1001 with back-to-back victories over Georgetown on Wednesday. Junior Laura Winter allowed only two hits and fanned 12 during the first game, en route to an 8-2 win. Senior Brittany O’Donnell took the circle in Game Two as the Irish cruised to a 15-3 victory. O’Donnell said it was an honor, particularly for this year’s senior class, to be a part of such a significant Irish benchmark.

“It’s a great honor to be on a team that was able to accomplish that, both for one another and for [Irish coach Deanna Gumpf] and for the program itself,” O’Donnell said. “It’s such an amazing honor and feeling to put on the Notre Dame jersey every time we go out on the field. We’re always trying to represent the university as best we can.”

With their two victories over the Hoyas, Notre Dame moved into sole possession of first place in the Big East. The Irish will try to maintain that position in the standings as they welcome the Wildcats (12-17, 0-6) this weekend.

“We know that we have to play our best Notre Dame softball every game and not play down to any opponent’s level,” O’Donnell said.

The team has focused on all areas of play at practice this week, keeping its fundamentals sharp and preparing to perform in key situations.

“We kept working on hitting the ball hard on the ground and playing solid defense,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve been working on our fundamentals because we know that that’s going to take us far in the Big East and keep us going. We’ve been working on executing when we need to and coming up clutch in big situations.”

As the Irish continue in the Big East portion of their schedule, the team is focused on making its last season as a member of the conference a special one. 

“We just know that our goal is to leave a mark on the Big East conference by winning it all, so that’s what we keep working towards,” O’Donnell said. “This is our last year in the Big East, so we work hard every day at practice to do the best we can. We don’t worry so much about the rankings, we’re just worried about the end goal of leaving our mark.”

The Irish will open play against Villanova at Melissa Cook Stadium on Saturday at noon.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu