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Sports

ND wraps up homestand

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Notre Dame will conclude its nine-game homestand this afternoon when it takes on Eastern Michigan at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The Irish (23-11 overall, 7-5 ACC) have won nine straight contests and have the chance to complete a perfect homestand if they come away with a victory against Eastern Michigan (8-18).

Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf acknowledged it would be impressive to complete the stretch undefeated, but said it is more important to her that her team is playing well right now.

“Every game is important, and obviously it’s nice to win at home, but I think we’ve just been focused on playing well during this last stretch, and we’ve done a good job of winning ball games,” Gumpf said.

The Irish are averaging eight runs per game over the length of the streak, outscoring their opponents 72-7 in that span and outhitting them 89-30.

Irish senior infielder Katey Haus gets ready to swing  in Notre Dame’s 13-0 win over Georgia Tech at Melissa Cook Stadium.Chris Collins | The Observer

Irish senior infielder Katey Haus gets ready to swing in Notre Dame’s 13-0 win over Georgia Tech at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Notre Dame opponents have tallied just one hit in two of the past nine victories, as well as one no-hit performance by sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland. Five of the wins have also been shutouts.

Gumpf said her team has been and will continue to be successful if the Irish focus on beating opponets in two out of three categories: pitching, hitting and fielding.

“Usually, when we do two of those things better, we’ll win ball games, and that’s what we have done recently,” Gumpf said.

Seven out of the past nine victories have come against ACC opponents, something Gumpf said will help the Irish as they advance toward postseason play.

“Every game is important, [but] obviously we want to put ourselves in a good position for the ACC tournament and get a good seed, so that’s something we’ve been focused on,” Gumpf said.

And although the Irish have won nine straight, Gumpf said there are always things she believes the team can improve upon: better at-bats offensively and exploiting opposing hitters’ weaknesses defensively.

“I think we need to make sure we’re hitting the ball in good counts, not allowing too many strikes to go by,” Gumpf said. “I think pitching-wise, we need to be sure that we’re forcing their hitters to hit the ball where we want them to hit it.”

If the Irish are to complete the perfect home stand — and extend their overall win streak to 10 — they will have to contain Eastern Michigan’s strong offense, Gumpf said.

“Eastern Michigan can hit the ball well  they’re a live-hitting team and they score a lot of runs,” Gumpf said. “We need to control their hitters and be certain that we’re taking care of the ball on the pitching end.”

Notre Dame will face off against Eastern Michigan on Wednesday at Melissa Cook Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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