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ND Softball: ND puts nine-game win streak on line in Chicago

Megan Finneran | Friday, April 26, 2013

The Irish hit the road this weekend to put their nine-game winning streak to the test as they face local Big East rival DePaul in a three-game weekend series. Notre Dame (35-10, 15-1 Big East) will carry momentum from its last game, an 11-1 victory over Connecticut that marked the 500th career win for Irish coach Deanna Gumpf

“As a team we have found what we need to do in order to win,” senior pitcher Brittany O’Donnell said. “We discovered the team’s key to success and we are going to keep rolling with that.”

Junior pitcher Laura Winter and O’Donnell will continue to lead the squad on the mound, preventing hits and controlling the game defensively. Winter earned the title of USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week earlier this week for her efforts in the recent Irish run. The award, announced by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball, has never previously gone to a Notre Dame player.

At the plate, a deep Irish roster has fueled the squad during its winning streak. Sophomore catcher Cassidy Whidden, senior catcher Amy Buntin, junior outfielder Lauren Stuhr, junior infielder Chloe Saganowich, sophomore outfielder Emilee Koerner, sophomore infielder Katey Haus, freshman outfielder Casey Africano, Winter and sophomore infielder Jenna Simon have all been key in driving the Irish offense to nine straight wins.

“Going into this weekend at DePaul we need to remember to take care of the small details,” Buntin said. “When the momentum shifts to the other team we need to find a way to quickly get on too again.” 

The Irish offense will challenge junior left-handed pitcher Kirsten Verdun, a 2012 NFCA Second Team All-American, who leads the Blue Demons (26-16, 13-3) on the mound. Her performance Wednesday led DePaul to a sweep on the road against fellow Big East squad St. John’s.

Offensively, the Blue Demons look to junior shortstop Allie Braden and sophomore outfielder Megan Coronado. Braden contributed four RBIs and four runs and Coronado added two RBIs and three runs to the doubleheader against St. John’s.

“Going into DePaul we are going to keep working on our fundamentals both offensively and defensively,” O’Donnell said. “If we focus and celebrate the small things then the big plays and victories will build from them.”

The first game will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Cacciatore Stadium, followed by a 3 p.m. first pitch that same day. The squads will face off again Sunday at 1 p.m.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu