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ND Softball

Irish welcome IUPUI to Melissa Cook Stadium

| Tuesday, April 5, 2016

After splitting a two-game weekend series with No. 9 Florida State, No. 22 Notre Dame returns to action Tuesday against IUPUI, looking to build on its momentum.

After losing 14-5 earlier in the day, Notre Dame (26-6, 5-3 ACC) rallied on Sunday evening to snap Florida State’s (27-4, 7-1) 22-game winning streak, with a walk-off single by sophomore left fielder Bailey Bigler.

The split doubleheader puts the Irish at fourth place in the ACC, and Bigler said she thinks the team can build off the momentum of beating the ACC-leading Seminoles.

“From this point on, we know we’re a top team that can compete with these other teams,” Bigler said. “We have the ability to put so many runs on the board and hits, and string them together and really go for the win.”

Sophomore left fielder Bailey Bigler awaits a pitch during a 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22 at Melissa Cook Stadium.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Sophomore left fielder Bailey Bigler awaits a pitch during a 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The next test for the Irish is IUPUI (10-21, 0-4 Summit), who will enter Melissa Cook Stadium on a five-game losing skid. Though the Jaguars are not ranked as highly as the Seminoles, Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said her team’s preparation will not change.

“Totally doesn’t change anything,” Gumpf said. “In my mind, IUPUI is the best team we’ve played yet this year. … We just look forward. Hopefully we learn lessons [from the victory over Florida State]. [Sunday] is a good learning day because we were a tale of two teams, but we always try to look forward and look to the next one. That’s all that matters.”

Bigler echoed Gumpf’s emphasis on improvement, saying the team can gain valuable experience from the Florida State games.

“I think it’s a great learning experience for us,” Bigler said. “It just shows that we’re just as good. We might be a young team … but at the end of the day, it’s the same game.”

Gumpf believes with that experience comes confidence

“We haven’t played consistent great lately and I think [the win over Florida State] is a good indication of what we’re capable of, when we play really well,” Gumpf said.

Against the Jaguars, the Irish will have to shut down junior third baseman Taylor Chitwood, who currently leads her team in batting average (.337), hits (30), RBIs (24) and slugging percentage (.618).

Chitwood is followed by senior second baseman Ali Mosier, who boasts a .604 slugging percentage and leads the Jaguars with seven home runs.

Junior center fielder Karley Wester takes a cut during Notre Dame’s doubleheader against Florida State on Sunday. Notre Dame lost the first game 14-5 but won the second game 5-4.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Junior center fielder Karley Wester takes a cut during Notre Dame’s doubleheader against Florida State on Sunday. Notre Dame lost the first game 14-5 but won the second game 5-4.

For the Irish, junior centerfielder Karley Wester leads the team with a .443 batting average and 54 hits. Wester singled and scored in Notre Dame’s 5-4 win against the Seminoles on Sunday and also paces the team with 28 stolen bases in 31 attempts this season.

After the Florida State games, Gumpf said patience will be a key for all of her players going forward, and used her team’s performance against Seminoles redshirt freshman pitcher Meghan King as an example.

“King did a great job with her up pitch with us,” Gumpf said. “When we were chasing, she was very successful. When we made her throw strikes, we were successful.”

The contest against IUPUI also marks the fourth game in a nine-game homestand for the Irish, something Gumpf is happy about.

“How nice is that?” Gumpf said. “We can kind of get in a rhythm here, and how cool is that?”

After Tuesday’s matchup against the Jaguars, Notre Dame welcomes DePaul to Melissa Cook Stadium on Thursday, before hosting Pittsburgh in a three-game weekend series.

Notre Dame and IUPUI are scheduled to begin their matchup Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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