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ND Softball

Irish look to keep slugging in ACC

| Friday, April 10, 2015

It has been almost a month since Notre Dame has lost a game, and as the team heads to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to take on Boston College, the Irish look to extend what is at this point a 15-game winning streak in a three-game conference series against one of their traditional rivals.

During the streak, the Irish (29-11, 10-5 ACC) have been an offensive powerhouse, outscoring their opponents by a staggering margin of 130-18, and as a team, they have been batting at a .407 clip. The Irish have also been strong at home, winning their last 11 games at Melissa Cook Stadium. At the plate, the Irish are led by sophomore outfielder Karley Wester, who leads the team with a .445 batting average and 61 hits. Wester has also scored a team-leading 42 runs and is currently a perfect 23-for-23 in stolen base attempts on the season. Elsewhere, the Irish are boosted by senior infielder Katey Haus’ team-high 11 home runs and 41 RBIs. Overall, seven of Notre Dame’s starting nine are batting over .300, and three are batting over .350.

Wester’s play for the season has been critical for the Irish, and she is drawing national attention for it: Wester is currently one of 26 finalists for the USA National Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. She is the second Irish player in program history to be named a finalist for the award, joining senior outfielder Emilee Koerner’s nod in 2013.

On the mound, the Irish are led by sophomore Rachel Nasland and junior Allie Rhodes. Nasland (15-6) leads the team in wins, ERA (2.34), innings pitched (146.2) and strikeouts (146). Rhodes (12-4) sports an ERA of 2.79 and has struck out 74 batters in only 80.1 innings pitched. In addition, Rhodes has either won or saved every game she has pitched in since March 21, when she was the winning pitcher in a 13-0 victory against Georgia Tech.

On the other side of the diamond, the Eagles (16-15, 1-8 ACC) have lost two of their last three games and had a scheduled game against Boston University on April 8 postponed due to inclement weather. They will rely on the young bat of freshman outfielder Annie Murphy, who leads the team with a .318 batting average and 28 hits while also swiping 13-of-14 bases. Junior outfielder Megan Cooley has compiled a .280 batting average but is a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts on the season.

On the mound, the Eagles rely on freshman Allyson Frei, who leads the team with an 11-9 record and a 2.85 ERA, with 119 strikeouts in only 113 innings pitched. The other pitcher of note for the Eagles is sophomore Jordan Weed, who is 3-2 on the season with a 5.14 ERA in 46.1 innings pitched.

The Irish look to continue their winning ways against the Eagles when they travel to Chestnut Hill to play at Shea Field for the first of two games Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the final match-up is scheduled for Sunday at 12 p.m.

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