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ND?Softball: Squad set to kick off home play

Laura Myers | Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The weather got better at just the right time for the Irish.

Notre Dame (8-10) will host a doubleheader against Toledo (1-10) today at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The games mark the home opener for the team, which spent the first part of the season playing in warmer locales.

Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said being at home should help her team.

“I think our advantage is that it’s our first home game and that we’re a good ball club,” she said. “We’re prepared to play.”

The Rockets have not played since the March 10-11 Buzz Classic because their planned five-game series in Virginia over the weekend was canceled due to rain and snow.

On March 10, Toledo won its first game of the season, a 7-4 decision over Georgetown.

Gumpf said she does not consider a team’s record when preparing the team.

“Let me tell you, anyone can beat you,” she said. “We try to practice for every single team we play exactly the same. We just need to focus on what we do right, not what our opponent does right or wrong.”

Senior pitcher Brittany Bargar (6-5) and sophomore pitcher Jody Valdivia (2-5) will each start a game for the Irish. Bargar holds a 1.47 ERA in 76 innings pitched, and Valdivia has a 4.12 ERA in 37 1-3 innings.

Sophomore Sadie Pitzenberger leads the Irish offensively with a .322 batting average. Juniors Heather Johnson and Christine Lux share the team lead with 10 runs batted in apiece.

Lux, the team’s first basemen, also leads the team on the defensive end. She has 92 put-outs and has yet to commit an error.

Gumpf said she would not be making any big changes to her lineup or field.

“I think every time we’re out there we’re making little adjustments to get a little bit better,” she said.

Rockets pitcher Brooke Gates was named Mid-American Conference player of the week on March 11. At the Buzz Classic, she batted .357 and had a 3.00 ERA with six strikeouts on the mound.

This will be Notre Dame’s last game before it begins Big East play Sunday against St. John’s.

The first game of the doubleheader will begin today at 3:30 p.m. and the second will follow at 5:30 p.m.