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ND Softball: ND to play 2 in Gainesville

Sam Werner | Friday, February 22, 2008

Following days in the desert, the Irish seek water.

A week after splitting four games in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., Notre Dame will find a little hydration at the Aquafina Invitational tournament in Gainesville, Fla.

Notre Dame will play a doubleheader today, facing Gardner-Webb at 11 a.m. and North Florida at 1:15 p.m. Irish coach Deanna Gumpf’s squad will then go up against undefeated No. 7 Florida on Saturday

“Florida has a great team,” Gumpf said. “They have a great pitching staff and they’re hitting the tar out of the ball.”

At 14-0, the Gators are off to their best start in school history.

“The goal with [Florida] is to win a big game,” Gumpf said. “We’ve got to go in there, give them a good game, and beat them.”

The Irish hope to improve on their 2-2 showing in Arizona last weekend. The Irish beat Utah and California but came up short against Western Kentucky and No. 3 Texas A&M.

“I expect to play better than we did last weekend,” Gumpf said. “That’s my No. 1 expectation.”

Over the week, Gumpf said the team worked on situational plays, in order to improve defensively and in pressure hitting situations. Gumpf said she tried to give the team “as many situational, game-like reps as possible.”

The Big East honored two Irish players this week, naming second baseman Katie Laing conference player of the week and adding pitcher Brittney Bargar to the conference honor roll.

Laing led the Irish in batting average in Tempe, hitting .429 over the four games. Laing also notched a game-winning, walk-off double against Cal.

Bargar pitched three games, winning two and losing only to the third-ranked Aggies, despite holding them to four hits.

“I think they deserved those honors,” Gumpf said. “Katie, offensively, was on fire for us and came through big in situational hitting. Bargar did a great job off the mound for us.”

Heading to Florida is just another trip for Notre Dame, who this week had to travel from Tempe back to campus, then down to Gainesville – a total trip of more than 2,500 miles. Gumpf said she wouldn’t let the team be affected by the travel.

“It’s in our mental state,” Gumpf said. “It’s going to affect us if we let it affect us and it won’t affect us if we don’t let it affect us.

“We do the best when we’re at home, but when we hit the road it’s softball time.”