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ND wins four out of five in Cathedral City

| Sunday, February 22, 2015

No. 24 Notre Dame won four of its five contests this weekend at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California, improving its record to 9-5 on the season.

The Irish notched victories against Maryland, UNLV, No. 25 Texas and No. 8 Georgia.

Irish sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland winds up in Notre Dame’s 11-4 victory over Michigan State on April 2 at Melissa Cook Stadium.Emily McConville | The Observer
Irish sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland winds up in Notre Dame’s 11-4 victory over Michigan State on April 2 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Notre Dame’s win over Georgia (12-2) is its second versus a top-10 opponent on the season, marking the first time the Irish have achieved that feat since the 2013 season. It is also the first time Notre Dame has defeated two top-10 teams on the road or at a neutral site since 2001.

Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said victories against high-quality opponents help her team gather momentum.

“We’ve beat some really good teams on the road, and that’s not easy to do, so I think what [that] does is build confidence for our team,” Gumpf said.

The Irish dropped their first game of the weekend Friday in an 8-4 loss against No. 10 Tennessee, extending their losing streak entering the tournament to four.

The Irish rebounded, however, with an 8-6 victory Friday evening over Maryland (10-5), outhitting the Terrapins 13-6. Notre Dame outhit its opponents 21-15 in Friday’s contests.

Gumpf said she was impressed by the way her team responded after last weekend’s Tiger Invitational at LSU, where the Irish lost three out of four contests.

“It’s something that we had to do — we need to be able to respond,” Gumpf said. “We’ve been playing some of the best teams in the country, so we really have to focus on bouncing back.”

On Saturday, the Irish defeated UNLV (6-7), 8-0, highlighted by a complete-game shutout by sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland.

Nasland threw another complete game Sunday, allowing just two hits in Notre Dame’s 5-1 victory over No. 25 Texas (9-6).

Over the course of the weekend, Nasland appeared in all five contests, pitching a total of 20 2/3 innings, striking out 18 batters and earning two wins along with a save.

Gumpf said she was impressed with her pitcher’s performance and durability.

In addition to Nasland’s complete game, Notre Dame third baseman Katey Haus hit her fourth home run of the season Sunday, a solo shot that gave the Irish a 1-0 lead over Texas.

Haus’s offensive output shows she is confident at the plate right now, Gumpf said.

“She’s really confident, and she’s swinging at good pitches,” Gumpf said. “She swings hard, and she’s a tough out right now.”

The Irish capped the weekend off with a 5-3 victory over No. 7 Georgia on Sunday afternoon. Junior pitcher Allie Rhodes earned her fourth victory of the season, pitching five innings and allowing three earned runs.

Nasland pitched the final two innings of the contest, earning her first save of the season, surrendering no runs and just two hits.

Gumpf said she saw many positives in the weekend’s four contests but said there are a number of things for the Irish to work on moving forward.

“We need to make sure our hitters one through nine are giving us quality at-bats, because that’s what puts pressure on other teams,” Gumpf said. “We also need to utilize our speed more.”

Notre Dame will play four contests next weekend in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Florida, beginning with a 3:30 p.m. contest against Missouri on Saturday.

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