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ND Softball: Irish travel to face No. 14 Northwestern

Sam Werner | Tuesday, April 15, 2008

he Irish travel to Evanston, Ill., tonight to take on No. 14 Northwestern in a challenging break from Big East play.

The Wildcats are currently second in the Big Ten with a 9-1-conference record and a 23-10 mark overall. Notre Dame, meanwhile, is unranked in either major poll, but are tied for third in its conference with a 7-3 Big East record.

Both teams are playing their best coming into the matchup, with Northwestern having won 10 of its last 11 games and Notre Dame taking 10 of its last 12 tilts.

A great deal of Notre Dame’s success can be attributed to junior pitcher Brittany Bargar. The right-hander sports a 20-7 record on the season to go along with a miniscule 0.78 ERA. Bargar and freshman Jody Valdivia have shut down opposition bats this season, combining for all the Irish wins and striking out a total of 265 batters on the year. In Notre Dame’s last series against Rutgers, Bargar pitched a complete-game one-hitter for a 1-0 Irish win.

The pitching staff will have to be at its best against a Wildcat offense led by junior shortstop Tammy Williams. Williams is leading the nation with an astounding .525 average on the season to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI.

The Irish have gotten most of their offense on the season from senior second baseman Katie Laing. Laing is hitting .361 on the year with six home runs and 41 RBI.

Notre Dame will try to become the first team to beat Northwestern in Evanston this year, where the Wildcats are undefeated.