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Team begins busy week with Broncos

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, April 17, 2007

After dropping two or its last three, Notre Dame will try to get back on track at home Tuesday against Western Michigan. The Irish (20-14, 9-1 Big East) will face the Broncos (13-14) in a doubleheader starting at 3:00 p.m. at Ivy Field.

It has been two different seasons for Notre Dame this season, with the team struggling out of the gates to a 9-12 start. While the Irish struggled to score and had inconsistent pitching in the early season tournaments, Notre Dame has turned around its season since returning home and starting conference play.

The Irish have won 11 of 13 since their home opener, including nine of their last 10 in Big East play. Pitchers Brittney Bargar and Kenya Fuemmeler have been lights out at home, and senior Stephanie Brown has led the Irish offense’s transformation into a dangerous lineup from top to bottom.

“Right now we’re making things happen,” said Bargar, a sophomore. “We have done a good job putting the ball in play, and taking advantage of other team’s weaknesses.”

The Broncos travel to South Bend for a break from Mid-American Conference play. Western Michigan is 5-5 in MAC action, and the squad has hovered around .500 for most of the year.

Junior catcher Becky Bartosz, batting .313 with four homers and 17 RBIs, leads Western Michigan offensively. As a team, the Broncos have struggled at the plate, batting only .205 on the season.

Pitcher Kyla Sullivan has been effective for the Broncos this season, despite a mediocre 8-9 record. The junior has posted a 1.38 ERA on the season to go with 84 strikeouts. Sullivan just has not received the run support from her teammates needed to post a winning record

A key for Notre Dame in today’s matchup will be drawing first blood – the Broncos are 11-2 this season when scoring first.

“We’ve been working on jumping ahead in the first three innings,” Bargar said. “A huge key to our success is making things happen and taking momentum right off the bat.”

The doubleheader is the start of a very busy week for the Irish, who will play eight home games before Sunday night. Notre Dame plays single games against Ball State and Valparaiso Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and has doubleheaders scheduled against Big East opponents Louisville and South Florida for the weekend.