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ND Softball

Irish set to host Broncos in make-up midweek contest

| Tuesday, April 17, 2018

With just two wins in its last five games, Notre Dame will look to regain its previous momentum this week starting with a midweek matchup against Western Michigan on Tuesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The matchup between the Irish (28-15, 11-6 ACC) and Broncos (22-18, 9-6 MAC) is actually a make-up game for a contest that was originally scheduled for March 21 but was postponed due to the potential for inclement weather that forecasts revealed that week.

The Irish are coming off a three-game series against Duke in which they lost the first two games of the series before winning the finale to avoid the sweep. Between those first two games over the weekend and its doubleheader with Loyola-Chicago last Wednesday, Notre Dame had scored just nine runs on its way to a 1-3 record. But in Saturday’s finale, the Irish bats came alive and equaled that total to pick up a 9-5 win.

In order to replicate the success of its last game and avoid the offensive dry spell that preceded it, Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said the team needs to come into the game with a good offensive plan that can enable the Irish offense to buoy the team whenever it needs it to.

“It’s really about our plan at the plate,” Gumpf said Saturday. “I think if we come in with a really good plan at the plate, I think our offense always — it changes the momentum for us, which it did all day [Saturday]. Our offense changed the momentum: Every time they scored, we scored. And so, I think [with] our offensive plan, it’s really important for us to have a good one. If we have a good plan, we’ll be successful offensively.”

That success will likely have to come against Broncos pitcher Reily Galloway, who has pitched in three of her team’s last four midweek contests. The freshman has only appeared in nine contests and started four games, but she has a 3-1 record and team-best 1.40 earned-run average in her 25 innings pitched. The other Broncos starter who has found success is junior Jordan Kurth, who has started a team-high 13 games and amassed a 9-3 record with a 3.58 earned-run average in her team-high 84 innings pitched.

Where the Broncos find most of their success is at the plate, however. They average just over five runs scored a game, with senior outfielder Aspen Williams pacing the way with 27 runs scored, nine home runs and a .574 slugging percentage. Freshman outfielder Samantha Coffel has also been a major contributor for Western Michigan, as she has a team-best .375 batting average and also leads the team with 31 runs batted in. As a team, the Broncos hit for a .292 average and have a .439 slugging percentage, as eight players are slugging over .400 for them.

Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish senior left-hander Katie Beriont delivers a pitch during Notre Dame’s 6-1 win over Eastern Michigan on March 27 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

On the mound for the Irish will likely be one of three options: freshman right-hander Alexis Holloway, senior lefty Katie Beriont or junior right-hander Cait Brooks. Holloway has struggled in her last three starts, as she has allowed 15 runs — though only eight earned — and 21 hits over 14 1/3 innings pitched. Beriont is also coming off a poor start in which she allowed four runs on four hits and two walks in just 2 1/3 innings pitched Saturday. Brooks, however, had a strong weekend in the circle against the Blue Devils (23-22, 8-10 ACC): she pitched seven innings during Saturday’s doubleheader, allowing just five hits and one unearned run.

After Brooks’ performance Saturday, Gumpf said the junior has provided important innings in her nine appearances this season, and she will continue to pitch if she’s finding success on the mound.

“Well, she’s actually kind of been doing this kind of thing, and then if she’s doing well, we keep her in; and if she’s not, then we take her out,” Gumpf said Saturday of Brooks. “So her innings have been short, but they’ve been important.”

The Irish and the Broncos will square off Tuesday night at Melissa Cook Stadium. First pitch in the game is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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About Benjamin Padanilam

Ben is a senior and The Observer’s former Editor-in-Chief, now serving as its interim Sports Editor. He is in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and also pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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