Irish prep for Heels
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, April 9, 2014
After a month of games away from the ACC, Notre Dame returns to conference play today when it travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on the University of North Carolina. The Irish (22-8, 3-3 ACC) will play a doubleheader against the Tar Heels (21-6, 12-5 ACC).
Notre Dame enters Wednesday’s games having won four of its past five games, with the lone loss coming to DePaul on Saturday by a score of 4-2. The Irish also go in having won their last meeting with the Tar Heels, during which they defeated North Carolina with scores of 6-5 and 9-3 over the course of a doubleheader February 25-26, 2012.
The Irish will look to their offense to carry them to a win in Chapel Hill. Notre Dame is currently leading the NCAA with an average of 2.0 doubles per game and ranks 10th nationally in batting average. In the ACC, the Irish rank first in both categories, batting for a team average of .334 and compiling 60 doubles as a team.
The Irish have benefited a power surge from sophomore infielder Micaela Arizmendi, who has hit five home runs in her past 10 games and currently is tied for the team lead in home runs with seven, sharing the mark with junior outfielder Emilee Koerner. Irish freshman Karley Wester will also be a player to watch against the Tar Heels, as she leads the Irish in batting average at .392 and in hits with 38. She also leads the team in stolen bases, with 16 out of Notre Dame’s total of 45.
Much like the Irish, the Tar Heels also will be looking to generate some serious offense. North Carolina currently leads the ACC with 46 home runs and average 1.24 long-balls per game. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Jenna Kelly leads the team with 10 homeruns this season. Sophomore shortstop Kristen Brown leads the team with 31 runs scored and 36 runs batted in.
Both teams also have strong pitching to match their offensive capabilities, particularly in their respective aces. Tar Heels senior Lori Spingola is currently 15-9 with a 2.91 ERA and has struck out 118 batters in 139.2 innings pitched. Irish senior Laura Winter currently sits at 14-4 with a 2.06 ERA as well as 147 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched.
The Irish will resume play Wednesday against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 4 p.m., with game two tentatively scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.