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Baseball: Hudson sets example for weekend

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Irish will try to keep the bats smoking as they head to Carey, N.C., this weekend for a three-game series against Hofstra.

Notre Dame (2-1, 0-0 Big East) collected 26 runs on 44 hits during the three-game Big East/Big Ten Challenge on Feb. 17 and batted .379 as a team. Junior catcher Joe Hudson led the Irish onslaught, racking up seven hits, two home runs, three runs scored, seven RBIs, two runners caught stealing and the Big East Player of the Week award.

“I think it was certainly very well deserved,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “It was a monster weekend for him, and I’m really pleased for him. He’s one of the coolest guys on our team and he’s an extremely hard worker, so I was happy to see him have some recognition for an unbelievable weekend.”

Although the Notre Dame batting order put up high numbers in the team’s first three games, Aoki said he’d like to see tighter play from the pitchers and fielders, who accumulated 17 walks, 11 hit batters and 10 errors over the same stretch.

“I’d like to see our pitching staff be in the strike zone a little bit more,” Aoki said. “I’d like to see us take care of the baseball a little bit better than we did last weekend on defense, and then continue to improve on some of the things that we did well.

“I thought we did a really good job of competing and playing very hard, and I thought that offensively that our at-bats by and large were really good at-bats. I just want to see our team continue to develop and get better from game to game and week-to-week.”

The Irish will send sophomore pitcher Sean Fitzgerald to the mound for the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, while junior right-hander Adam Norton will start the later contest. Senior right-handed pitcher Will Hudgins will take the ball in the series finale on Sunday.

Fitzgerald allowed six runs in two innings in the season opener Feb. 17 while Hudgins gave up three runs in five innings in Notre Dame’s eventual 15-8 loss to Purdue (3-0, 0-0 Big 10) on Monday. Norton shined against Iowa (1-2, 0-0 Big 10), allowing just two runs in a complete-game victory.

The three will face a Hofstra lineup that dropped three games to No. 8 Florida State (4-0, 0-0 ACC) over its opening weekend, Feb. 17 to 19. The Pride (0-3, 0-0 CAA) held leads in each contest, but a sixth-inning grand slam in the opener, a four-run fifth inning on Saturday and a five-run Seminole rally in the finale ruined Hofstra’s chance at an upset.

Aoki said a short series against one of college baseball’s perennial powers does not give a full picture of what Hofstra is capable of.

“They swing the bat pretty well. They’re aggressive on the base paths. They stole a bunch of bases against Florida St. last weekend,” Aoki said. “It’s a little bit hard to tell. The only thing you have to go on is a three game sample set based off of one of the storied programs in college baseball in Florida St.

“They’re going to come out and do a really good job of competing. They have some talented young arms on the mound, so I think we need to worry less about the opponent than us making sure that we’re getting better as a team and that we’re playing as close to our potential as we can.”

The first pitches will be thrown at 12:05 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 12:05 p.m. Sunday at the USA Baseball Complex in Carey, N.C.



Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]