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Softball: She’s on fire

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 4, 2008

Coming off a close victory over Toledo in non-conference action Wednesday, Notre Dame returns to Big East play as they travel to St. John’s and Seton Hall for two weekend double headers.

This is the first conference road trip for the Irish this year, and junior pitcher Brittney Bargar believes her team is ready for the challenge.

“No matter what the situation is, it is always tough to play on the road, regardless of where we are,” she said. “[We] just have to stay with one another and play some great ball. There is nothing we aren’t prepared for, and we are ready for every challenge thrown our way.”

Notre Dame (18-10, 1-1) opened the conference season last weekend with a split at DePaul. As has been the case often in the early part of the season, the pitching staff carried the team to its victory. The same thing happened Wednesday against Toledo, where freshman Jody Valdivia and Bargar teamed up to pitch seven innings while allowing only one run between the two.

The Irish scored only two runs on RBIs from senior second baseman Katie Laing. The two runs were enough for Valdivia and Bargar, but the Irish stranded several runners in scoring position, something they hope not to repeat this weekend.

After exploding for eight runs against IUPUI on Mach 26, the Irish offense has been in a bit of a slump, scoring only five runs in the three games since then. Thanks to stellar pitching, however, they were able to come away with wins in two of those contests with the only loss being a 2-1 defeat at the hands of DePaul, who is No. 18 in the latest NFCA poll.

St. John’s (15-9, 2-4) and Seton Hall (11-18, 0-6) opened their conference schedules in a doubleheader against each other at St. John’s on March 22. St John’s took both of those games, registering their only wins in conference thus far.

The Red Storm and the Pirates both met South Florida and Louisville for doubleheaders following their meeting. Each squad dropped two games each to the Bulls and Cardinals, who currently sit first and second, respectively, in the Big East standings.

St. John’s was able to rebound following their four straight conference losses when they stepped outside the league and swept a doubleheader against Army on Wednesday.

While their upcoming opponents may have struggled lately, the Irish will be careful not to take anything for granted this weekend.

“The biggest thing for this team to stay sharp is to play seven hard innings every game,” Bargar said. “We can not let up on anything, not a single out or pitch. Every play, we have to finish.”

Action in Jamaica, New York against St. John’s is set to begin at noon on Saturday, while the doubleheader against Seton Hall will begin at 11 a.m. in South Orange, NJ.