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ND Softball: Irish travel to Nike Invitational

Laura Myers | Friday, February 20, 2009

Notre Dame will head west this weekend to take on another top team.

The Irish (1-3) began their season Feb. 13 with a 10-1 loss against top-ranked Alabama in the Bama Bash. Today, the team will begin the three-day Nike Invitational in Palo Alto, Cal., with games against the Sacramento State Bandits and the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal.

On Saturday, the Irish will take on Sacramento State and Stanford again. The team will finish the weekend by facing the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers on Sunday morning.

Though the beginning of the season did not go Notre Dame’s way, several bright spots shone through.

In a 2-1 win over East Carolina on Feb. 14, sophomore Katie Fleury hit a home run and a single, tallying both RBI. Sophomore Sadie Pitzenberger also had two hits in the game.

The two lead the Irish with batting averages of .364 and .444, respectively.

Senior pitcher Brittany Bargar also got off to a strong start. In 13.2 innings at the Bama Bash, she compiled a 2.56 ERA with 12 strikeouts.

Barger will have her hands full with Stanford (8-1). The Cardinal has already defeated several ranked teams and averages 8.6 runs per game. Their offense has been sparked by freshman Ashley Hansen, who leads the team with a .531 batting average and two home runs.

Stanford’s top pitcher, senior Missy Penna, is 6-1 with a 1.02 ERA in seven starts. She has struck out 68 batters and walked only eight in 41 innings.

The Irish take on Stanford today and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. both nights.

Sacramento State (2-0) has not played as much as Stanford, but already shows signs of offensive prowess. The Bandits hit five home runs in their two wins over Pacific, three of which came from the bat of senior Jamie Schloredt.

Notre Dame will play Sacramento State today at 1:00 p.m. and Saturday at 7:45 p.m.

Western Kentucky (5-2) comes to Palo Alto following a successful campaign at the Auburn Invitational, which ended with a 13-0 victory over Eastern Kentucky.

After that performance, Toppers junior Lindsay Antone was named co-Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week. Antone hit for a .637 batting average in three games with two doubles and 5 RBI. She leads the team with a .480 overall batting average.

The Irish do not face the Lady Toppers until Sunday, and will play them at 12:00 p.m.