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ND Softball

Irish head to Florida for Diamond 9 Citrus Classic

| Thursday, March 2, 2017

Notre Dame will hit the road for its final season-opening invitational tournament of the spring this weekend when it travels to Kissimmee, Florida, to compete in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.

The Irish (6-8) have squared off against a ranked opponent in nine of their last 10 games, going 3-6 in those games. This weekend, however, Notre Dame will take on four unranked foes in Purdue, Florida International, Chattanooga and Charlotte over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

Irish junior infielder Morgan Reed sprints to third base during Notre Dame's 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22 at Melissa Cook Stadium. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish junior infielder Morgan Reed sprints to third base during Notre Dame’s 10-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 22 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The Boilermakers (2-12) will be the first opponent of Saturday’s doubleheader for the Irish. Purdue will play Kansas and Bryant before taking on Notre Dame, but it enters the weekend having lost four straight contests by a margin of 52-14. The recent stretch of poor pitching has inflated the Boilermakers’ staff ERA to an 7.35 figure. Their bats have struggled as well, as Purdue only has 43 runs in its 14 games of the season.

The Irish will then battle the Panthers (11-5) on Saturday evening. Offensively, Florida International is led by sophomore outfielder Jackie Schoff, who is batting .462 on the year with an on-base percentage of .548 to boast. The team’s strength, however, is its pitching staff, which holds a 2.62 ERA entering the weekend and is led by sophomore Abby Summers, who is 4-0 in seven appearances with a 1.52 ERA.

Notre Dame will then open its Sunday doubleheader with Chattanooga, which features a lineup with five .300-plus hitters. The Mocs (5-9) are paced in that category by sophomore utility player Ashley Conner, whose .463 average, .829 slugging percentage, four home runs and 12 RBIs are all team-high marks.

The Irish will then close out the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with the 49ers (13-4), who is Notre Dame’s strongest opponent on paper. Charlotte’s pitching staff maintains a low 2.22 ERA and are led by junior Haley Wiseman, who is 9-2 with a 1.53 ERA. The 49ers’ offense — which features seven hitters with an average above .300 and boasts a team average of .334 — is paced by junior infielder Haley Pace, who leads her team with a .481 batting average, .981 slugging percentage, six home runs and 19 RBIs.

The Irish will begin their weekend Saturday when they take on the Boilermakers at 12:30 p.m. at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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