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ND Softball

Irish prepare for Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

| Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Coming off a 1-3 showing at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Notre Dame looks to improve its game as the team travels to Cathedral City, California, to compete in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

The Irish (4-5) dropped out of the NCAA rankings following the weekend losses and will aim to regain their spot among the top 25 this weekend.

The Irish will first take on Texas (7-3), which is coming off wins against Indiana and Louisiana Tech to end the Texas Invitational on Saturday. Over the course of the five games the Longhorns played in the Texas Invitational, they batted .318 as a team, drew 32 walks and scored 34 runs. Longhorn senior left fielder Stephanie Wong provided a boost for Texas on offense, providing hits throughout the series.

Irish junior infielder Karley Wester slides into home plate during Notre Dame's exhibition game against UIC on Oct. 9. Allison Culver | The Observer

Irish junior infielder Karley Wester slides into home plate during Notre Dame’s exhibition game against UIC on Oct. 9.

Next Notre Dame will face No. 20 Missouri (5-2). The Tigers are coming off of a 7-3 loss against Illinois State, their first loss since their season opener against No. 13 James Madison. Due to cancelled games on Saturday and Sunday, Missouri will have plenty of rest before it takes on the Irish. Tigers redshirt junior outfielder Anna Reed has gotten on base safely in each of her last seven games, making her a threat on offense for Missouri.

Over the course of the Mary Nutter Classic, Notre Dame will also play No. 21 Arizona State and No. 11 Georgia, two ranked opponents that threaten to hand the Irish more losses. Arizona State (9-1) is coming off its first loss of the season at the hands of Boston College, a game that showcased the strengths of the Sun Devils’ pitchers, as Arizona State gave up only three runs. Junior Sun Devils pitcher Breanna Macha delivered five scoreless innings for the Sun Devils but Boston College was able to get on the board in the sixth inning, and win the game 3-2.

Although Georgia has had a strong start to the season, the Bulldogs (12-0) have yet to face a ranked opponent. Wins against Dayton and Syracuse, among others, make up their 12-0 start. The Bulldogs will play their first ranked opponents in this weekend’s Classic.

Notre Dame will close the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against No. 4 Oklahoma in what is sure to be a tough game for the Irish. The Sooners (6-2) posted a 4-0 record in last weekend’s Houston Classic, beating Incarnate Word, Ole Miss and Houston twice. The defending national champions, the Sooners were ranked No. 1 by several preseason polls and are looking to repeat the success of last year’s season.

Notre Dame continues its season Thursday against Texas at 6:30 p.m. and Missouri at 9 p.m. They then face Arizona State at 3:30 p.m. and Georgia at 6 p.m. on Friday before closing the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against Oklahoma at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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