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ND Softball: Irish advance to NCAA Regionals

Katie Heit | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

As they prepare for the NCAA Regionals, the Irish look to build on their already successful season. 

Notre Dame finished regular season play with an overall record of 41-12, including a 19-3 mark in Big East play, and claimed the Big East regular season championship. But at the outset of the season, the Irish dropped five of their first nine games. Notre Dame soon turned its momentum around and won nine straight contests in nonconference play. 

The Irish then swept league series against Seton Hall and Georgetown before stalling against Villanova on April 6. After winning the first game 4-1, the Irish struggled at the plate in the nightcap of the twin bill and lost 1-0. The following day, the Irish managed to turn their luck around and win the final game of the series 9-3.

After a loss to Northwestern on April 9, the Irish found their groove and ripped off 11 straight wins before falling to DePaul in the final game of a three-game set April 28. 

Notre Dame entered its final series of the season against Louisville tied with the Cardinals for first place in the Big East. After inching out a walk-off 5-4 win in the first game, the Irish fell to the prolific Louisville offense 15-1 in the second game. In the rubber game Sunday, the Irish pulled off a 3-1 victory to win the series and the Big East regular season title. 

Senior catcher Amy Buntin said the high-stakes series was the most difficult of the season. 

“As a team, they have very disciplined hitters and hit the ball hard,” Buntin said of the Cardinals. “They took one game from us, but we won the series with two timely wins.” 

Buntin said the series win against Louisville gave the Irish momentum heading into postseason play. 

“We aren’t done yet,” Buntin said. “In a way, the season is just beginning, with the postseason just a couple of days away.” 

After falling to South Florida, 1-0, in a 10-inning thriller in the Big East Championship final, Buntin said the Irish are ready for the NCAA Regionals, which begin Friday. The Irish will square off with Virginia Tech in the Lexington Regional at Cropp Stadium on Friday at 5 p.m

Though Buntin and four other seniors are preparing to play their last games in their Irish careers, Buntin said she knows the program will continue to thrive. 

“I am confident the future of Notre Dame softball will continue to grow as a program,” Buntin said. “The team is full of young talent and potential.” 

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu