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ND Softball: Irish take win streak to Calif.

Molly Sammon | Thursday, March 4, 2010

Notre Dame’s seven-game win streak will be tested on a lengthy, nine-game spring break trip to California.

“Each team we play presents a different challenge for our team,” Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “As long as we play our best softball, and play it consistently, we will be prepared for each team throughout the week.”

The Irish (8-4) went undefeated in their last two weekend tournaments.

“Our bats are hot and we are coming off of a weekend where we played good, consistent softball,” Gumpf said.

This weekend, the Irish will participate in the UC Riverside Aten Construction Tournament in Riverside, Calif. They are scheduled to play Ohio State, East Tennessee State and UC Riverside in the tournament.

The toughest of these teams looks to be the No. 14 Buckeyes, who have already raked in 10 wins this season and are climbing the NCAA rankings.

“[Ohio State] did not lose much from their squad in 2009, and they have continued to pick up this season where they left off last year,” Irish assistant coach Kris Ganeff said. “They have been hitting the ball extremely well during this first three weeks of the season and hitting with power.”

After the UC Riverside tournament, the Irish will play Cal State Northridge Wednesday in Northridge, Calif., before traveling to Long Beach for the Long Beach State Invitational, where they will play Buffalo, San Diego, UNLV, Long Beach State and Purdue.

“Although it seems like many games in a short span, it’s pretty typical,” Gumpf said. “As long as we are in a good rhythm, it shouldn’t be a struggle at all.”

To prepare for the competition this weekend, the Irish have been working on all facets of their game in live-game situations.

“Our hitters need to see as much live pitching as possible, and our pitchers need to see as many live hitters as possible,” Ganeff said. “Game situations are vital. Our goal is to never have anything happen in a game that the team hasn’t already seen in practice.”

Both Gumpf and Ganeff cited one big disadvantage going into the two tournaments. As the recent weather has inhibited the Irish from playing outside, the defense is having difficulty dealing with switching from practicing on turf to playing on dirt.

“It is a difficult transition,” Ganeff said. “I think it does put our defense at a disadvantage, but thus far we have done a pretty good job and kept our errors at a minimum.”

In terms of the rest of the season, the Irish are using these early, non-conference games to prepare themselves for the conference games that will come later in the season.

“I do think it is important that we go out to California and have a strong showing because it is going to show where everyone in the conference really stands as we head into the Big East Season,” Ganeff said.