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ND Softball

Irish keep up winning streak with sweep of Hokies

| Monday, March 30, 2015

The Irish came into the weekend riding a six-game winning streak, having thrown several shutouts in a row when they took on Virginia Tech. While the streak of consecutive games without a run was broken, the Irish winning streak was not, as Notre Dame swept the Hokies over the course of three games, winning by scores of 2-0, 11-1 and 6-1.

The streak marks the second time this season the Irish (23-11, 7-5 ACC) have achieved an ACC sweep at Melissa Cook Stadium, and senior infielder Katey Haus said she noticed the uptick in the team’s performance.

“I think the key to our success lately has been the focus we’ve put on our game and what we do,” Haus said. “We’ve really looked to control what we can and bring our best game regardless of our opponent.”

Senior catcher Cassidy Whidden eyes a pitch in the 6-1 win against Georgia Tech on March 21.Chris Collins | The Observer

Senior catcher Cassidy Whidden eyes a pitch in the 6-1 win against Georgia Tech on March 21.

The Irish experienced a power surge at the plate, outhitting the Hokies (24-9, 3-8 ACC) 23-11 over the course of the weekend. With offensive performances from players like junior infielder Micaela Arizmendi, who led the team with four hits and scored two runs Sunday, and senior catcher Cassidy Whidden, who contributed four RBIs in addition to a home run, the Irish moved to 21-2 on the season when they outhit their opponents, as well as an undefeated 11-0 when they compile ten hits or more, as they did in both games on Sunday.

But it was the Irish pitching that once again proved the difference. Sophomore Rachel Nasland won the Saturday game by pitching a shutout and then opened the doubleheader Sunday with a complete game three-hitter while allowing only one run against six strikeouts. Junior Allie Rhodes was also dominant on the hill, allowing only one run on two hits over four complete innings in the last win of the weekend. With their victories, Nasland extends her current winning streak to six consecutive starts, while Rhodes has won her last three in a row.

Their performance on the mound has been critical in helping kickstart the Irish win streak, which has in turn helped the team at the plate, Haus said.

“I think it works both ways,” Haus said. “When the pitching staff shuts down a team, it gives the offense confidence and provides them a chance to attack. But conversely, when the offense excels it provides the pitching staff with a peace of mind that allows them to perform at their best.”

In the end, the dual pitching and offensive performances have helped the Irish race along on a hot streak, though Haus said she knows there is still work to be done.

“We are constantly striving to improve our mental game and better execute the little things,” Haus said.

The Irish resume play Wednesday when they host Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium. The game is set to begin at 4 p.m.

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