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ND Softball

Irish to play three in Fla.

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

Notre Dame will travel to Florida for a trio of games over two days this weekend at the Jacksonville University Tournament.

The Irish (3-1) were originally scheduled to play a pair of games against Missouri, but inclement weather prevented the Tigers from making the trip. Instead, Notre Dame will play a pair of morning games against Louisville (3-2) with a Saturday afternoon matchup against host Jacksonville (3-2) sandwiched between.

Irish freshman outfielder Karley Wester rounds the bases during fall play. Zachary Llorens | The Observer

Irish freshman outfielder Karley Wester rounds the bases during fall play.

No. 23 Louisville is plenty familiar to the Irish coach Deanna Gumpf and her team. Last season, the Irish took two out of three against the ninth-ranked Cardinals in the regular season’s final series, to clinch the Big East regular season crown in each team’s final year in the conference. The Irish finished 19-3 in the conference and just one game ahead of the Cardinals after then-junior pitcher Laura Winter tossed a complete game in a 3-1 victory in the series’ third and final matchup. That win clinched a 13th Big East regular season title in eighteen years and bumped the Cardinals down to third place.

With so much history between the two teams, Gumpf said she is excited to face such a familiar opponent so early in the season.

“It’s just like old times,” Gumpf said. “We have played them consistently for the last [many] years now… it will be just like going back to conference last year.”

The Cardinals did drop a pair of games in their opening weekend at the Florida Atlantic University Kickoff Classic against Tulsa and host FAU, but redeemed their weekend with a 7-0 shutout victory over St. John’s and a gritty 5-4 eight-inning victory over Ohio State.

But regardless of Louisville’s early season results, Gumpf said she and her team are expecting a battle.

“We know them really well, and they know us really well,” Gumpf said. “For us, it’s just going to be a matter of getting it done.”

The Irish also play Saturday against Jacksonville, whose opening weekend included a pair of wins over another ACC team, Maryland. The Dolphins finished seventh in the Atlantic Sun last season at 11-15 and 30-22 overall and were tabbed by conference coaches to finish seventh again this year.

Gumpf said her staff did not have much of a scouting report on Jacksonville, who the Irish were not scheduled to play until the schedule had to be shaken up on Thursday.

“It’s tough to know what to expect, because they are only a week out and we weren’t planning to play them until today,” Gumpf said. “But we will be ready.”

The Irish enter the weekend having notched three victories and a loss of their own last weekend at the Plainsman Invitational in Auburn, Ala. The weekend included a pair of shutout wins for sophomore starter Allie Rhodes — including a no-hitter in a five-inning 9-0 victory over Morehead State — and wrapped up with a gritty 3-2 victory in eight innings over Auburn in the Tigers’ home park. The Irish got eight solid innings from the senior Winter, and junior centerfielder and ESPNW preseason All-American Emilee Koerner spearheaded the comeback with a home run and two RBI in the game.

Gumpf said she was particularly encouraged by the effort against Auburn.

“There were two reasons I liked Sunday to finish off the weekend,” Gumpf said. “One, we came from behind. And two, we battled the entire game. Both of those are great signs for us, particularly early on.”

The Irish face Louisville at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and battle Jacksonville on their home turf at 5:00 p.m. before taking on the Cardinals again at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to wrap up the three-game set.

Contact Evan Anerson at eander11@nd.edu

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About Evan Anderson

Sophomore from Ann Arbor, MI in Sorin Hall intending to major in Finance. Avid fan of the NBA and my Tigers, Pistons, and Lions.

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