Irish to finish season with mid-week matchup, final ACC series at home
Marek Mazurek | Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Coming off of a weekend split against a ranked Arkansas squad, Notre Dame heads into its final nonconference matchup of the season Wednesday as the Irish take on Butler at Melissa Cook Stadium.
With a 6-5 victory over the Razorbacks on Saturday, the Irish place themselves in the thick of the hunt for spot in the NCAA tournament. That makes every game for Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf and Notre Dame (29-19, 11-10 ACC) a must win.
“We have to do whatever it takes to win the game,” Gumpf said.
After the mid-week clash with the Bulldogs (20-27, 8-9 Big East), the Irish host ACC-rival Boston College to South Bend for the final homestand of the season. However, the focus for the Irish will be squarely on the Bulldogs come Wednesday evening.
Gumpf said the biggest challenge Butler poses is having a deep, distinctive pitching staff.
“Butler, what they do really well is they have a deep pitching staff and every single one of them is so different, so we’ve got to find ways to manufacture runs early and hold them,” Gumpf said. “We have to figure out how to win that ball game because it will carry over into Boston College.”
Butler has four pitchers who have thrown at least 34 innings. Sophomore Kaitlin Doud and junior Mikeila Boroff both boast ERAs under 3.93, while freshman Gabbi Schnaiter has thrown eight complete games over the course of the season.
As the Irish make their final preparations for the home stretch of the season, Gumpf said one of her team’s biggest strengths is its confidence in its ability to hang with any team in the country.
“I think the win [the Northwestern] gave us confidence that we know we can,” Gumpf said. “I do know that our team knows they can beat anybody, that’s one thing I’m sure about. I am sure that our team believes that we can beat anybody on any given day.”
Leading the way in the confidence department for the Irish is junior shortstop Morgan Reed. Reed drilled a three-run home run to right-center field in Saturday’s second contest against Arkansas to give the Irish a lead they wouldn’t not give up. Reed is second on the team with a .383 average and leads Notre Dame with seven home runs.
Another factor that favors the Irish is the scheduling, as Notre Dame will play its final four games of the year at home. Gumpf said playing in the friendly confines of Melissa Cook Stadium is a positive for her team, as it helps her players stay even-keel on the field.
“I love the fact that we get to play at home,” Gumpf said. “It’s our senior weekend where we celebrate the seniors. We’re going to have some fun out there and attack every inning. We get to be home and thank God we do because it helps our girls with finals and stay level. Again, not too high, not too low, but just trying to be consistent in those games.”
The Irish and the Bulldogs face off Wednesday night, with the first-pitch set for 6 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.