Irish dominant in 3-game sweep of ACC foe Cavaliers
Jack Concannon | Thursday, April 25, 2019
The Irish dominated the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend, taking all three games by four runs or more. The Irish (29-15, 12-6 ACC) scored 34 runs over the three-game series, getting contributions throughout their lineup.
“I was really proud of the way that they played. We went through a lot of adversity while we were there, there were a lot of distractions,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “The way that we came back and took control of the first game and then finished the series was spectacular.”
The Irish entered the weekend 2-5 in road and neutral-site games against ACC opponents. The team has experienced the difficulty of playing strong teams on the road, and Gumpf emphasized winning conference games outside South Bend is a major challenge.
“It’s not easy, it isn’t easy anywhere. To start a day behind [due to a rainout on Friday] was tough, and to play three games was even tougher,” Gumpf said. “The character that this team showed was incredible.”
Senior outfielder Ali Wester had a strong offensive weekend against the Cavaliers (17-30, 5-16 ACC). She collected seven hits from the leadoff spot, scoring four runs and driving in three more. She was supported by excellent hitting from the second spot in the lineup provided by junior second baseman Katie Marino. Marino had at least one hit in each game and scored six runs total. The top of the lineup provided a strong offensive boost, but Gumpf said she believes the team’s success comes from everyone in the lineup.
“When the top of the lineup is getting it done consistently, it makes everything easier,” she said. “The thing that I really loved about the way we played is people were getting it done throughout the lineup. Obviously, the top was getting it done big time, and we had people in the middle and bottom coming through. That’s really why were able to do what we did.”
It was a critical trio of wins for the team to collect so late in the season. The team’s ACC record now stands at 12-6, good for a fourth seed in the ACC Tournament. That seed would let the team avoid Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State — the conference’s strongest three teams as of now — until the semi-finals at earliest. This would be a significant advantage for the Irish, given they were outscored 8-20 and lost two of three to the Seminoles this season.
“We beat Florida State once at their place. I think we’re very capable of beating them again,” Gumpf said. “I think we’re very capable of beating Virginia Tech, as well. We have played a very tough schedule, and I think that has prepared us for Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech has not played a very strong schedule. I think we have that upper hand when you look at the big picture.”
The Irish could pass the Seminoles’ 13-5 conference record to take the No. 3 seed in the ACC with a few wins in the next few weekends. Their next two ACC opponents are Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech, who have posted a combined 12-24 record in ACC play. If Notre Dame wants a strong seed in the ACC Tournament, it can start by taking advantage of an upcoming favorable stretch in their schedule.
The weekend series against the Panthers begins Saturday at 11 a.m. at Vartabedian Field in Pittsburgh.