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ND Softball: Irish travel to Florida with hopes of improving record

Katie Heit | Thursday, March 1, 2012

With four wins in their last six games, the Irish look to build more momentum this weekend in Buena Vista, Fla., when they take the field for the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic.

After a tough opening weekend during which Notre Dame (4-5) won only one out of its five games, the team managed to turn its luck around in the Carolina Classic last weekend, claiming three victories in two days.

The Irish will now face opponents from multiple conferences in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The weekend kicks off Saturday with a doubleheader against Long Island (2-13) and Ohio State (9-5). Action concludes Sunday as the Irish take on both Fordham (10-7) and Virginia Tech (7-3).

Senior outfielder Alexa Maldonado said Ohio State is the biggest challenge of the weekend.

“I would say that Ohio State will be our toughest competition,” Maldonado said. “They are usually a solid program with a lot of great power hitters.”

Maldonado said the Irish are hoping to play consistently as a team in every area of the game.

“We’ve been a bit back and forth with greatness these past few weekends,” Maldonado said. “We are looking forward to breaking out to consistently great softball.”

Maldonado said the most challenging part of the weekend is the change in weather between Notre Dame and Florida.

“The transition from playing outside in freezing South Bend to hot and humid Florida will put a toll on our bodies,” Maldonado said. “We need to make sure we stay well hydrated.”

Despite the rocky start to the season, junior catcher Amy Buntin said Notre Dame’s team chemistry is strong in the early part of the season. Buntin said the way the players get along is an advantage between the lines.

“The team chemistry this year brings a whole new level of excitement on and off the field,” she said.

Senior infielder and former all-American Dani Miller was named the most recent Big East player of the week for her performance in last weekend’s games. Miller currently has a .438 batting average and hit a grand slam against North Carolina at the Carolina Classic. Miller has knocked in 14 RBIs in only nine games.

The Irish get underway against Long Island at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.