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ND Softball

Irish prepare for busy weekend in Baton Rouge

| Friday, February 13, 2015

Coming off a 4-1 weekend that included an upset of No. 12 UCLA, No. 20 Notre Dame gets back to work this weekend.

The Irish (4-1) travel to take their cuts at the annual Tiger Invitational in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, facing off against Central Arkansas, No. 16 LSU and Hofstra.

For Irish senior third baseman Katey Haus, the winning weekend was all about finding and settling into a groove.

“What worked best for us is when we play our game,” Haus said. “Regardless of the competition, we need to focus on what we do best in order to play to our full potential, and so far when we have done that, we have been successful. As we continue to play more games, the small details that come with more game experience will sort themselves out.”

Haus had those small details ironed out last weekend, catching fire at the plate by finishing the weekend with a .625 batting average, eight RBIs and three home runs. Haus connected for two of them during Sunday’s victory over No. 25 Cal State Fullerton.

Having a hitter on a hot streak like that, as well as a team that is batting well in general, does wonders for a pitcher’s confidence, sophomore right-hander Rachel Nasland said.

“As a pitcher, to have such a strong hitting team behind me is a relief on the mound,” Nasland said. “It makes the game more fun for me because it allows me to pitch to batters more aggressively and gives me more liberty with my pitches.”

Nasland appeared in three games over the weekend, starting two, and finished with a record of 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA and a tie for the team lead in strikeouts with 13.

As with many spring sports stuck in the Indiana cold, Notre Dame has to travel to warmer climates to play early in the season. While this allows the team to escape from the cold, it also means Notre Dame has to fit in a large and varied amount of teams to play in such a short time. The Irish play four games against three teams in two days this weekend: Central Arkansas  (4-2) and LSU (5-0) on Saturday as well as Hofstra (0-0) and a rematch against the host team slated for Sunday.

However, both Haus and Nasland said they view the busy schedule as just part of the life of playing college softball.

“The best way to deal with our jam-packed weekends is to take it one game at a time,” Haus said. “Our goal is to bring our best game every game, regardless of our opponent.”

There is also one more adjustment the Irish have to deal with in their travels, Nasland said.

“I think that right now we are just trying to get adjusted to playing on a dirt field,” Nasland said. “We have been practicing inside for couple months now. … Thank you, South Bend.”

The strong start for the Irish has given them high morale heading into the weekend, and the enthusiasm carried over into Haus’ attitude.

“I think the team’s chances [this weekend] are great,” Haus said. “We are rolling off a great opening weekend and some good practices this week.”

The Irish return to action Saturday against Central Arkansas. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 11 a.m. They later take on LSU at 4 p.m. Saturday, Hofstra at 10 a.m. Sunday and LSU again at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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