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ND Softball

Irish aim to move forward, travel north for ACC matchup with Eagles

| Friday, April 20, 2018

After suffering an 8-3 loss to Northwestern on Wednesday, Notre Dame will now make the trip up to Brighton, Massachusetts, for the weekend to play its penultimate ACC series of the season against Boston College.

Having lost four of their last six, the Irish (28-16, 11-6 ACC) are looking to regain momentum on their first trip to the new fields at Boston College (23-17, 9-5).

Sarah Olson | The Observer
Irish freshman pitcher Alexis Holloway makes a pitch during Notre Dame’s 8-4 loss to Loyola on April 11 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Much of that momentum will have to start at the plate, where the Irish have scored three runs or less in four of their last five games. One area they have struggled in particular is hitting with runners in scoring position, having left 11 runners on base in two of their last three games — both of which were losses. Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said the offense does not need a new approach at the plate to improve its production in those run-scoring situations; rather, the lineup just has to refocus in those at-bats.

“I mean, there’s always adjustments you can make hitting,” Gumpf said Wednesday. “We got some hits, [but] we didn’t score them. I think they’re pressing a little. I think we just have to focus on the pitch, not the result.”

Doing so this weekend could prove difficult for the Irish, however, as the Eagles success this season has largely stemmed from the performance of its two-man pitching staff. Redshirt-junior right-hander Allyson Frei has started 14 games this season for the Eagles — though she has appeared in 26 — and has a 1.85 earned-run average in 117 1/3 innings pitched.

Senior right-hander Jessica Dreswick has started the other 26 games on the mound for the Eagles, and she has a 2.27 earned-run average in her 157 innings pitched, which includes 13 complete-game efforts. The combined 2.08 earned-run average of Frei and Dreswick is good for the second-best mark in the ACC and ranks 28th in the country.

In the circle in the other dugout, the Irish will rely on their own two-man staff of freshman right-hander Alexis Holloway and senior left-hander Katie Beriont. Beriont has been a solid performer in her 17 starts this season, as she has an 11-6 record and 2.56 earned-run average. However, Holloway — who leads the team in wins (16), starts (25), complete games (16), innings pitched (165 1/3) and earned-run average (2.29) — has been the ace on the mound for the Irish this season. But she has struggled as of late, as her earned-run average has risen from 1.95 to 2.29 since her last win, which came six games ago against Syracuse on April 8.

Despite Holloway’s struggles on the box score of late — which included allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings Wednesday — Gumpf said the freshman has thrown the ball very well during the team’s tough stretch, but the games simply haven’t gone her way, such was the case Wednesday night.

“With Alexis, there was only one hit to the outfield against her,” Gumpf said Wednesday. “They scored three runs but only hit one ball [to the outfield], and it was a blooper. So I thought she did great. I think Katie gave up a big inning, but Alexis — they hit the ball to the infield one time … so I thought she had a great game. The game didn’t go her way, but I thought she threw really well.”

Now, as the Irish prepare to start their three-game series against the Eagles — with the first game of the three-day set scheduled to start Friday at 6 p.m. — their focus will be just getting back to playing “good softball,” not thinking too much of the current skid as the team looks to build momentum heading into the postseason.

“We’ve got to just move forward and play good softball,” Gumpf said. “Because that’s what we didn’t do. We didn’t play a solid, good game [Wednesday].”

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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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