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ND Softball

Irish prepare for California

| Thursday, February 18, 2016

After starting their season with a 3-2 performance at the Kajikawa Classic, the Irish will be back in action this weekend in Cathedral City, California, for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

Notre Dame will play five games in three days against nationally ranked competition and on unique fields. The Classic will be held at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex, which features fields that are scaled-down replicas of famous Major League Baseball ballparks including Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

The Irish begin their slate Friday against Utah Valley at Wrigley Field at 4 p.m. before finishing the day with a clash against No. 11 Washington at 8:30 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.

On Saturday, Notre Dame begins its day at 1 p.m. with a matchup against Cal Poly at Fenway Park before playing No. 8 UCLA on Wrigley Field at 6 p.m.

Finally, the Irish will be back at Fenway to take on George Washington on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. to end their weekend.

At Cathedral City, Notre Dame will look to continue the offensive momentum it built in the last two games, in which it scored 17 combined runs. Senior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi leads the team with nine RBIs, while junior outfielder Karley Wester leads the team with 10 hits in 20 at-bats.

Baseball, 20150418, Game 1, Melissa Cook Stadium, Michael Yu, Orange, Softball, SyracuseMarek Mazurek | The Observer

Irish associate coach Kris Ganeff said many younger players had standout performances at the Kajikawa Classic, and the team will look to them again this weekend.

“The freshman class I thought did a phenomenal job,” Ganeff said. “Maddie McCracken got in there, played a lot of games at catcher for us, and offensively, she showed up. She got some crucial hits in key moments.

“Another one was sophomore [outfielder] Bailey Bigler, who did a really nice job both defensively and offensively. … [Freshman] Caitlyn Brooks is another one. She’s a pitcher, and she hits, which doesn’t happen very often.”

Notre Dame will look to the trio of junior Rachel Nasland, senior Allie Rhodes and Brooks on the mound. Rhodes carried the load for the Irish in the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, pitching 19.1 innings and giving up nine earned runs. Brooks pitched 7 1/3 innings with four earned runs and Nasland pitched 6 1/3 innings but gave up only one earned run.

The Irish begin the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, California, on Friday at 4 p.m.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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