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ND Softball: Irish look to defeat Ramblers in doubleheader

Jared Jedick | Thursday, April 24, 2008

After breaking a three-game losing streak with a victory against Purdue, Notre Dame will look to add another pair of wins to its 9-5 Big East record against Loyola University Chicago.

The Irish are currently tied for third in the Big East with DePaul.

“We are focusing on playing consistent ball,” coach Deanna Gumpf said. “We need to develop a swagger, play our game, and get to work.”

Irish pitchers junior Brittney Bargar (22-10) and freshman Jody Valdivia (8-6) have been strong in their last couple outings, allowing only two runs in their doubleheader against Purdue.

“They are both doing very well,” Gumpf said. “They only gave up two runs in two games and have been doing a great job of keeping runners off the bases.”

Bargar pitched 8 and 2/3 innings in the doubleheader, allowing only one run on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Bargar has been the stopper for the Irish this year, logging crucial innings seemingly in every game.

Valdivia went 4 and 2/3 innings in the late game in the Purdue double-header, allowing only one run on four hits with only two walks and four strikeouts. Valdivia also kept her pitch count down.

“She went right at batters, and that is when she is most effective,” Gumpf said.

The Irish bats have cooled off since a 12-run explosion against Louisville on Saturday. The last game against Purdue, however, offered some hope that the Irish bats may be awakening.

“I’m not too worried about our hitting right now because we have been more hot than cold lately,” Gumpf said.

Junior third baseman Linda Kohan has provided a much-needed spark for the Irish this season in clutch situations. Kohan came through once again for the Irish when they needed it most with an RBI in the first inning of the second game of the Purdue doubleheader, the first Irish run of the day.

The Ramblers (15-17; 9-4 Horizon) are coming off a three-game sweep of Wright State (22-22) last weekend. Loyola University Chicago has won six of its last eight games.

“The Ramblers have been having a very good year,” Gumpf said. “They’ve taken down some good teams this year like Cal State Fullerton. They are scrappy and their pitchers keep them in games.”

Loyola University Chicago sophomore Solava was named Horizon league pitcher of the week on Monday after an impressive stretch. Solava went 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 17 strikeouts last week to help the Ramblers to a 4-2 record. Solava (11-8) has a save, a 2.70 ERA and 91 strikeouts on the season.

Senior utility player Katerina Krause leads the Ramblers’ offense. Krause won U.S. Army Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Week honors this week after hitting for a .300 average with three runs, two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in six games for Loyola last week. Krause holds the Loyola career record with 32 home runs, and with a game-winning double at Wright State on April 20, moved into a tie for the school’s all-time RBI mark (89).

Gumpf refuses to worry about what happens down the road right now and prefers to focus on what is immediately in front of her team.

“We have eight conference games left, and we need to take them one at a time,” Gumpf said.

Tonight’s double-header against Loyola University Chicago will begin at 5 p.m. with a fireworks show to follow after the game.