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ND SOFTBALL: Gumpf pleased with freshmen, new Irish assistant coach

Anna Fricano | Friday, September 30, 2005

The Irish will get their final game preparation before the spring regular season this weekend when they finish exhibition play tomorrow with two games.

Notre Dame will begin the four-team exhibition tournament at 10 a.m. at Ivy Field with a game against Southern Illinois. The Irish will take the field again in the last game of the day versus Wisconsin-Parkside. Western Michigan is also scheduled to be at the tournament, but the Irish will not face the Broncos, whom they beat in a home-opener last spring.

The game plan for this weekend, according to head coach Deanna Gumpf, will include what the team has worked on during the early weeks of training and exhibition play.

Gumpf is also not too concerned about the competition her team will be facing.

“They’ll be similar teams [as last week],” Gumpf said. “And they’re nice ball clubs, but we’re really not focusing on who we’re playing. We’re focusing on our own team.

This weekend’s games will also provide the team a chance to get used to the slightly altered coaching staff that the program has seen this year. New assistant coach Lizzy Lemire has filled a recent vacancy in the coaching staff.

“When I hired Lizzy I knew she was going to be good for our program, because of the person she is,” Gumpf said. “But I didn’t realize how good she was going to be … she has completely exceeded my expectations as a coach.”

Gumpf is extremely happy with the transition that her team has made so far this year and is excited as seven freshmen have joined the squad.

“They talk about every team being new every year,” Gumpf said. “[The addition of Lemire and the freshmen] has absolutely changed the chemistry of our team both on and off the field and … I think it’s been a very positive transition for this team.”

Gumpf noted that this time of the year is primarily used for working on the fundamentals of the game and deciding what kind of direction the team will take. And with the potential of having five freshmen starting during the regular season, this aspect could be the most important part of the off-season.

“The closer we get to the regular season the more we work on becoming a team; on finding out what kind of team we want to be,” Gumpf said.

The team opened exhibition play last Saturday and recorded victories over Wayne State and Detroit Mercy.

The returning members of the 2005 team fell right back into line, getting the games going with their offense and making several solid plays in the field. But at least four of the freshmen were able to see playing time on Saturday.

With months to go before the season officially starts, the last exhibition games will help coaches and players alike see where everyone is at, but no final decisions will likely be made until March.