ND looks to carry consistency, momentum into NCAA Championships
Charlotte Edmonds | Friday, May 18, 2018
Notre Dame qualified for its 20th straight NCAA Championships, one of two ACC teams to make the tournament. The third-seeded Irish (32-21, 13-10 ACC) will meet No. 2 seed Michigan in the first round of the Lexington Region.
Head coach Deanna Gumpf said her team’s strategy heading into her seventeenth postseason at Notre Dame is to carry the momentum from their final regular-season win over Florida State on Senior Day. Notre Dame defeated the No. 8 Seminoles (47-10, 21-3 ACC) 3-1 in the last game of the series. The Seminoles went on to beat Notre Dame in the ACC semifinals 6-1, before winning the conference title to secure the automatic bid.
“That is what we’re depending on to propel us into the tournament,” she said. “It’s really all that matters … What did we do to win that game and what can we take from that, and use that against our next opponent.”
After a 6-3 non-conference start that included two games against the Wolverines (43-11, 18-3 Big Ten), Gumpf’s team competed in both the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic and the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic before spring break, going 1-4 and 5-0, respectively, with three of those losses coming at the hands of top-10 teams.
Michigan, having won half of its last eight matchups, was defeated in the first round of the Big Ten Championships by in-state rival, Michigan State. Earlier in the season they defeated the Irish 6-0, only to lose 4-3 the very next day.
The team tallied an 11-5 record within the month of March, including seven ACC wins.
With only three seniors on the roster, Gumpf had to rely on the balance of contributions from underclassmen and less experienced players to carry the team through one of the toughest conferences in the country.
“There’s a lot of people who have made some noise throughout the season,” she said. “I think it happens at different times. There wasn’t like the three key people throughout the season.”
In particular, the team came to depend on freshman pitcher Alexis Holloway. The right-hander started 32 of the team’s 53 games and was the key to their success in the latter half of the season. Her 2.34 ERA helped pace Notre Dame to a fourth place finish in the ACC.
Victories in series against Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Louisville throughout the season helped buffer the Irish series losses to North Carolina, Duke, Boston College and Florida State.
Gumpf emphasized the importance of consistency as the key to a successful regular season. However, she said that all changes when the Tournament rolls around.
“There’s a lot of turning points within a season. It’s really about trying to not get too high or too low. There’s always momentum, that’s what we look for … It’s not about playing consistent softball. It’s about playing good enough softball … and beating our opponents, whoever that is.”