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Softball: Streaking Eagles to face Irish

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Notre Dame continues its home schedule tonight with a doubleheader against Eastern Michigan. The Irish are undefeated at home after a 4-0 start, and hope to maintain their perfect record this weekend against conference foes Connecticut and Providence.

The Eagles come into South Bend red hot, having won nine of their last 10 to raise their record to 16-13. The Eastern Michigan offense is led by Ashley Strauss, who is hitting .283 with 19 RBIs. Strauss was named the MAC West’s Player of the Week last week after belting three home runs, including a game-winning two run shot in extra innings to secure a victory over Northern Illinois April 1.

“This year the team plays with a lot of intensity and fire,” Notre Dame’s Stephanie Brown said. “We have an extreme amount of talent.”

The Irish pitching staff will have its hands full with the Eagles’ offense, but starters Heather Booth and Brittney Bargar have effectively shut down their competition so far this season.

Bargar was named the Big East’s Pitcher of the Week this week after recording a no-hitter against Connecticut Saturday. The eight-inning shutout was the first recorded in Notre Dame’s history.

“She is a fighter and she worked hard out there,” said Booth, who raised her record to 7-6 on the season.

The Irish offense is coming off a strong weekend performance at Ivy Field. The sluggers have put up 23 runs in their last four games including a 9-0 win against Connecticut and an 8-0 win over Provi-dence.

“We come to practice and continue to stay fresh on offense and defense,” infielder Sara Schoonaert said. “I think right now things are really gelling for us and we are having a lot of fun out there.”

Brown, Notre Dame’s leadoff hitter, has been unstoppable at home this season. The team had seven hits in 13 at bats including three home runs.

The team will continue to look to the top of its batting order as well as a stingy defense to overcome the Eagles and move its home winning streak to seven. The streak dates back to a 7-3 win over Syracuse on May 1 of last season.