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ND Softball

Notre Dame hopes for strong back half of season

| Thursday, April 5, 2018

Currently in the middle of their longest break in play since the beginning of conference games began, Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf said she can’t wait to get the Irish (23-12, 7-4 ACC) back on the field to host Syracuse (18-14, 4-7 ACC) on Friday as the start of a three-game series this weekend. 

Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish senior pitcher Katie Beriont winds up during Notre Dame’s 9-1 win over North Carolina on March 24 at Melissa Cook Stadium.

The past month proved difficult for the Irish to train, with three games — North Carolina State, Western Michigan and most recently Michigan State — and several practices being cancelled or postponed due to inclement weather. The Orange have also been affected by the conditions, canceling a recent matchup against Boston College. 

The Irish are coming off of a road series against Virginia Tech last weekend, where they dropped Friday’s game but returned Saturday to win both matchups and take the series. 

“We’ve done a lot of soul searching and asked what matters to us,” Gumpf said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of that as of lately.”

Gumpf said the biggest takeaway from last week’s competition against the Hokies was to keep attacking.

“Stay with it,” she said. “It’s okay if it doesn’t come early. It’s a matter of just staying intense and continue fighting until it’s done.”

This offensive-minded strategy may prove to be a crucial factor against Syracuse — a team notorious for being difficult to land hits against.

“We need to be an offensive threat every single inning. We need to threaten them … because they have a very good pitching staff. Their pitching staff is considered the top of the ACC,” Gumpf said.

Additionally, Gumpf’s choice to prepare her team to be patient could be useful, as much of the Irish offense has been generated in the last couple of innings in recent games. Especially against Syracuse’s Alexa Romero, who has started in 16 of the Orange’s 32 games and will likely make an appearance in the series, this could give the Irish, a team that has struggled to score at moments, trouble.

The left-handed sophomore has been having a historic year, recording the program’s second perfect game back in March. She is also currently ranked 19th among pitchers in hits allowed, as well as eighth nationally in strikeouts per game at 10.5.

Although not as dominant, Notre Dame’s primary pitching squad of freshman Alexis Holloway and senior Katie Beriont have led the team through March with a 16-5 record to position them in fourth place in the ACC.

This home series marks the beginning of the final regular-season stretch. With 12 of the 17 remaining games being ACC foes, April will likely define the season heading into the ACC championships the following month.

“It’s time to rev it up and stay consistent. Period,” Gumpf said. 

This will mark the first time the Irish and Orange have faced off since 2016, when Syracuse won two of three games in that series at Syracuse, New York.

The Irish will take the field at 6 p.m. Friday and will return to Melissa Cook Stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m. Prior to Saturday’s game, the athletic department will be hosting food trucks in the parking lot of Frank Eck Stadium for baseball, lacrosse and softball fans. The three-game series will conclude Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

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