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ND SOFTBALL: Two solid victories highlight fall play

Anna Fricano | Monday, October 3, 2005

The Notre Dame softball team concluded its fall schedule on Saturday with two victories over Southern Illinois and Wisconsin-Parkside in the first and last games of a four-team exhibition tournament. The Irish beat Southern Illinois by a score of 3-1 in the first game of the day and defeated Wisconsin-Parkside later in the afternoon in a lopsided 8-0 victory. Western Michigan University was also at the tournament but did not play against Notre Dame.

The Irish defense played two solid games on Saturday, making no errors in the field. Head coach Deanna Gumpf said the team has put much of its practice time so far this year into its defensive play and she’s pleased with the way that they players have responded.

“We’ve been focused more on defense [this fall] because of the weather,” Gumpf said. “When we’re outside, we like to work on a lot of defensive things. November through February is when we’ll be working on hitting.”

The second game of the day for the Irish was pushed back half an hour from its 4 p.m. scheduled starting time, as a game between Western Michigan and Wisconsin-Parkside went into extra innings, eventually resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Broncos.

Discouraged by its loss, Wisconsin showed little offense against the Irish and could not keep up with Notre Dame’s batting line-up. The home team took advantage early in the game, scoring all eight of its runs in the first four innings.

Stephanie Brown got the offense going in the first inning with a single, and Katie Laing got the first RBI of the game shortly thereafter.

The Irish could have made a third out at that point and still had a good inning, but when junior Gessica Hufnagle got up with one runner on, she drove in a two-run homer, which gave Notre Dame a comfortable 3-0 lead after only one inning of play. The hits kept on coming for the Irish, who scored another run in the second inning.

Laing gave the team a last burst of offense in the fourth inning with a three-run home run over the left-field fence.

Notre Dame’s pitchers gave another strong performance throughout the day, allowing only one run in 14 innings of play. Brittney Bargar, a freshman out of Corona, Calif., credited a lot of the success on the mound to the fundamentally sound defense.

“It’s so nice to know that even when you do make a mistake the defense is there to back you up,” Bargar said. “[The defense] backed up all the pitchers yesterday. It was awesome.”

Bargar threw a no-hitter for the first four innings of the second game and was relieved by junior Kenya Fuemmeler.

With four exhibition games under their belts, the Irish are off now for the next five months. Regular season play for the team will begin on Feb. 17, 2006, when the Irish kick off their season at the UNLV tournament.