ND prepares for six-game weekend at Florida tournament
Jack Concannon | Wednesday, February 13, 2019
After spending last weekend in Mexico, the Irish will escape the cold again this weekend at the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational in Clearwater, Florida. The team went 2-2 in Mexico, including a win over the then-No. 3 Washington Huskies in extra innings. Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf was pleased with her team’s toughness.
“We’re resilient. I think the best part about that trip was that we got a little bit better every day. This time of year, that is exactly what we’re looking for,” Gumpf said. “If we can get a little bit better all the time then we can be something special.”
The Irish win over Washington (4-1) was the first win over a top-three ranked team in program history. The team went down 2-0 in the first inning, but strong relief pitching from sophomore pitcher Alexis Holloway kept the Irish (2-2) in the game down the stretch. The Irish tied the game in the sixth, and won it in the eighth on an RBI single from senior first baseman MK Bonamy. While Gumpf was happy about the win, she emphasized that at this point in the season the process is more important than the results.
“It was great. I love that we beat Washington. I’m so much more pleased with the way we played. That’s what I’m fired up about,” Gumpf said. “I’m fired up for the fact that we played really good, consistent softball and brought it in all three parts of our game.”
The opening four games behind, Irish will now turn the page and focus on the tournament in Florida. The weekend features matchups with No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 20 Oklahoma State, Minnesota, California and Ohio State. The six-game weekend will provide the team with an opportunity to make a statement in non-conference play, and the Irish will have multiple chances to continue having success against top-ranked teams. Gumpf emphasized that the team’s goals will remain the same as the ones they had going into last weekend.
“Our goal is really simple,” Gumpf said. “Play good softball and get a little bit better every day.”
The tournament has the Irish scheduled to play six games in four days, including four games in the span of two days on Friday and Saturday. The team was successful in Mexico on its lone two-game day, losing narrowly to No. 9 South Carolina after leading in the early part of the game before defeating the Huskies.
One factor that should allow the Irish to be successful despite the crammed schedule is their pitchers’ ability to pitch in multiple games per day. Holloway and freshman pitcher Payton Tidd appeared in both the Washington and South Carolina games on Saturday in Mexico and will be able to do the same this weekend if necessary. This is just one of the reasons Gumpf says the team isn’t making any major strategic changes ahead of this weekend’s tournament.
“That’s our sport. It is very unique to softball. Not a lot of other sports do it. That’s why we have a pitching staff of four. That’s why we have 20 players on our team,” Gumpf said. “That’s what we do, luckily we don’t know any better than playing two games per day.”
The Irish will travel to the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational this weekend and will begin play against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.