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Irish hope to extinguish the Flames

Justin Schuver | Thursday, April 15, 2004

For the first time this season, Notre Dame (32-12) will face an opponent in a single-game match at Ivy Field when they face the Illinois-Chicago Flames (19-18) today at 5 p.m.The Irish were scheduled to play a one-game match against Loyola March 25, but that game was cancelled due to inclement weather.”I love one-game series because you have to bring your best,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “You have to attack early and get that early momentum because there’s no second game to come back in. You can’t hold anything back out there.”Notre Dame is coming off a 2-0 victory on the road against No. 18 Nebraska and looks to continue its winning ways over its next three games, all of which are at home.”We have to build momentum while we’re at home,” Gumpf said. Despite picking up the win, the Irish struggled at the plate against the Cornhuskers, collecting just four hits and scoring both runs with the help of Nebraska errors.The Irish hope to wake up their bats at home against an Illinois-Chicago team that has allowed opponents to bat .293. By contrast, Notre Dame’s pitchers have held Irish opponents to a .196 average.The Flames have managed to overcome their pitching woes lately, and have put together an eight-game winning streak coming into today’s game. In their last conference doubleheader against Butler Monday, the Flames swept their opponent by a combined score of 25-8.”[Illinois-Chicago] can really hit, and that’s why they’ve won so much,” Gumpf said. “They have good timely hits and also have a lot of power. Our pitchers have to be able to shut them down.”Illinois-Chicago’s Cameron Astiazaran leads the Horizon League with a .421 batting average, with teammate Amanda Rivera not far behind with a .345 average. Rivera also leads the team with 10 home runs.Four different pitchers have seen the mound for the Flames, with no single pitcher making fewer than 10 appearances this season in the team’s 37 games. Brittany McIntyre, Alison Aguilar, Alycia Creese and Chelsey Barclay have combined for a team ERA of 2.97.Notre Dame remains at home Sunday to face Providence in a Big East doubleheader at Ivy Field, after which the Irish will go on a seven-game road trip.