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Irish softball looks for series win against Georgia Tech

| Friday, March 19, 2021

After the Notre Dame softball team (9-7, 3-5 ACC) split last weekend’s series against North Carolina, they will travel to Atlanta for a four game series against Georgia Tech (8-15, 3-11 ACC) this weekend. Head coach Deanna Gumpf described her team’s performance against the Tarheels as “up and down.”

The Irish lost 6-0 on Friday, swept the Saturday doubleheader with a combined score of 17-0, and lost the final game on Sunday, 2-1. 

“We had a rough Friday,” she said, “We showed up Saturday and decided to take it to ‘em, and had one of the best Saturdays we’ve ever had this season, and then Sunday … we played well enough to win, things just didn’t go our way.”

The Irish have been led all season by senior outfielder Abby Sweet, who is batting 0.547, which leads the ACC among qualifying players. Sweet was named ACC player of the week for the second time last week, after going 10-14 with two home runs in the series against North Carolina. 

“She has been incredible all season,” Gumpf said. “The way she plays the game is very special. Everything she does, she plays with complete toughness. She plays with tenacity, she plays with enthusiasm, she is completely unshakeable on the field.”

In addition to Sweet, freshman first baseman Karina Gaskins is having a terrific start to her college career. Gaskins ranks second in the conference with a 0.469 batting average. 

Georgia Tech has struggled to start ACC play, posting a 3-11 conference record, although they do average more than five-and-a-half runs per game.

“We need to outhit our opponent,” Gumpf said. “They’re going to put runs on the board, they’re a very offensively driven team. So we have to find a way to out hit them and outperform.”

The Yellowjackets haven’t been nearly as successful on the other side of the ball. Their 5.27 ERA is the highest in the conference. Notre Dame’s pitching staff, on the other hand, has been performing very well so far. Junior Payton Tidd and senior Alexis Holloway, the Irish’s two main starters, each have an ERA under 2.00. Holloway pitched a complete-game shutout in Saturday’s 4-0 win, allowing just three hits. 

Georgia Tech’s bats may be tougher to silence, however. They are second in the conference in home runs and RBIs, with 30 and 119, respectively. They also rank third in batting average, hitting 0.295 as a team. 

The Irish lead the all time series 13-3, although Georgia Tech has found some success at home. The two teams have split six games in Atlanta. The last time they squared off was a 6-4 Irish victory in South Bend in April 2019. 

Notre Dame is looking to win its first conference series of the year. In addition to splitting the UNC series, they also dropped two of three to Duke earlier in the year. The season has certainly been an adjustment from years past, but Gumpf said her team has risen to the challenge.

“I am so happy with how well the girls have handled COVID, and how they’ve been able to just gut through a lot of the tough things that we’ve experienced, and we get to play the game, so I couldn’t be more proud of this team on how we’ve handled this entire season,” she said. 

The first pitch of the series is Friday at 4 p.m. from Shirley Clements Mewborn Field in Atlanta. All four games will be broadcast on ACC Network extra.

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