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ND SOFTBALL: Postponed doubleheader will be made up today

Ryan Duffy | Monday, April 25, 2005

It took an April snowstorm to finally cool down the Irish.Having won 29 of its last 31 games, Notre Dame was forced to put its winning ways on hold when inclement weather caused Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader against Seton Hall to be postponed until today. The Irish will now have the chance to prove themselves against Seton Hall, who swept the Irish in all four matchups last year, making them the only team in Big East history to sweep Notre Dame for the entire season.”Seton Hall is a very good team, but we beat ourselves in some of those games last year,” Notre Dame coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We’re capable of beating them. I think this year’s [Irish] team is better than last year’s.”Although the Irish have the best winning percentage of any team in the Big East, Seton Hall sits in first place because the Pirates have played more games. A doubleheader sweep would allow Notre Dame to claim the top spot in the conference.”This is one of those games where I shouldn’t have to fire the girls up for,” Gumpf said. “We know that first place is on the line.”Although Seton Hall is one of the strongest teams in the Big East, Notre Dame knows what needs to be done for them to take down the Pirates.”We have to hit their pitching, and we have to keep their [No.] 1 through [No.] 4 hitters off the bases,” Gumpf said. “All three parts of our game have to be good: we have to have good pitching, we have to hit their pitching, and we have to play strong defense.”The Irish will rely on their strong pitching in today’s matchup, led by senior Steffany Stenglein and junior Heather Booth, who have been practically unhittable lately.”Stenglein has reached a new level; she’s pitching the best in her whole career at Notre Dame,” Gumpf said. “Booth has turned a big corner, and she’s right where she wants to be as a consistent, dominating pitcher. If they can just maintain what they’ve been doing, and continue to have great games, we’ll be fine.”While the pitching duo can keep the team in the game, the Irish will need a strong offensive attack to beat a team of Seton Hall’s caliber. After a stretch where the offense did just enough to win games, the bats exploded on Friday, scoring eight runs in both games of their doubleheader against St. John’s.”We have been getting by, but we broke out Friday night,” Gumpf said. “We just crushed the ball. It’s great going into this weekend, and we just need to keep running with it.”No matter who steps up to keep the team in the game, Notre Dame will look to win by playing the same quality softball they’ve played all year. “Seton Hall is obviously a big rival, but we have to approach this like any other game: we have to take care of each pitch, each batter and each inning,” Gumpf said. “We can still be better, and that’s what we focus on – how to get a little better every time we play.”