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Notre Dame set to face off against Toledo

| Wednesday, April 15, 2015

After a weekend sweep over No. 7 Florida State, the message remains the same for the Irish heading into Wednesday night’s non-conference matchup against Toledo.

“I think it’s one of those things naturally that as a coach you’re worried about that it’s going to be sort of a let-down game,” Irish head coach Mik Aoki said. “I trust this group. We’re going to talk to them about it. We talked to them a little bit about it [Tuesday] and we’ll talk a little bit about it tomorrow, but I feel good that this group is going to answer the bell. They’ve done nothing but answer the bell all year long.”

Senior pitcher Scott Kerrigan throws a pitch in a 4-2 loss to  Virginia on Mar. 28 at Frank Eck Stadium.Mary McGraw | The Observer
Senior pitcher Scott Kerrigan throws a pitch in a 4-2 loss to
Virginia on Mar. 28 at Frank Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame (24-10, 9-9 ACC) is getting more attention in the ACC, shooting up into a three-way tie for third, but Aoki said the team needs to keep continuing with taking their season “pitch by pitch,” as they did after being swept by now-No. 5 Louisville and now-No. 23 Virginia.

“I think the big message is just the same as it was on the heels of those losses against Virginia and Louisville that those didn’t fundamentally change anything about our team,” Aoki said. “Now that we’ve experienced wins against Pitt and Florida State, that doesn’t fundamentally change who and what we are. We still have a road map to have success and we need to continue to follow that road map. Just because people are talking about us a little bit doesn’t change anything that.”

The Irish will take on a Toledo (12-23) team coming off of 3-0 loss to Dayton on Tuesday and a series win over Western Michigan over the weekend. The Rockets almost stole one from Notre Dame last season. The Irish needed a late two-run rally to beat Toledo 4-3 in the ninth.

“I think they are always well-coached, [Rockets head coach] Cory [Mee] does a good job with those guys,” Aoki said.

The Irish expect Toledo to bring out a left-handed starter, Aoki said, as the Irish have hit slightly worse against lefties on the season, going 10-5 against them compared to 14-5 against righties.

“They’re throwing a lefty at us, which I think everybody is trying to do as they look at our numbers,” Aoki said. “We haven’t hit lefties as well as we have hit righties throughout the course of the year. I think they are trying to find lefties and scrap heaps around the country and throw them at us.”

The non-conference games are just as important to the season, Aoki said, because with little hopes of catching Louisville in the ACC, Notre Dame will need all the wins it can get.

“I think it’s important to play at a high level,” Aoki said. “… The NCAA tournament, unless you win the ACC Championship, to a certain extent that’s beyond our control. We can influence it by our play on the field. We just try to play as well as we can and worry about the things we can control and get up the next day and do it all over again.”

Against Toledo, Notre Dame will look to continue their roll, Aoki said.

“… Whoever it happens to be, we’re not trying to compete against the opponent, we’re trying to compete to be as good as we can be,” Aoki said.

The Irish will take on Toledo on Wednesday night, with first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.

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