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ND Softball: Streaking squad takes on Huskies

By Laura Coletti | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

 The Irish are riding a seven-game win streak heading into tonight’s doubleheader against conference rival Connecticut.

Notre Dame (33-10, 13-1 Big East) swept Pittsburgh on the road last weekend and is looking to keep the ball rolling against the Huskies (22-20, 6-8). Senior catcher and captain Amy Buntin said playing a conference opponent makes the pair of games more important.

“UConn is a Big East opponent that we can’t take for granted,” she said. “We need to start each inning today with an attack mentality. This year UConn is a young team with little experience in their lineup.”

Because of the short turnaround between the weekend series with the Panthers and today’s doubleheader, the Irish practiced lightly Monday just to stay sharp, Buntin said. Rather than have a full practice, the squad participated in a light hitting workout while resting the pitchers. Buntin said the Irish feel confident in their win streak and don’t want to lose that feeling.

“The team is excited after sweeping Pitt this weekend,” Buntin said. “It is very apparent to the team that we are improving both offensively and defensively. It is easy to see we are playing with more confidence at this point in the season.”

While Notre Dame’s Big East record makes qualifying for the conference tournament a sure bet, the Irish are beginning to weigh their odds of qualifying for the NCAA regionals. According to Buntin, this focus makes each game for the remainder of the season more important.

“At this point, each conference game is important for us to make the NCAA postseason,” Buntin said. “If we focus on one game at a time we will be playing in the Regional tournament.”

Buntin said Notre Dame’s pitching has dominated during the win streak. Junior Laura Winter was named Big East Pitcher of the Week for her combined efforts against Pittsburgh and Michigan State last week as she kept the Spartans and Panthers off the scoreboard. It will be important for the pitching staff to stay strong today against the Huskies, Buntin said.

“Our pitching staff this week did a great job attacking and keeping the Pitt hitters off balance,” Buntin said. “We had a plan for each hitter, and we were able to execute that plan to allow our defense to make easy outs. Coach was happy with how we played this weekend, but she is always looking for ways us to improve.”

Buntin, Winter and the rest of the Irish will begin play today at 12:00 p.m. in Melissa Cook Stadium. The second game is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu