Irish open season at Green and Gold Classic
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, February 11, 2022
This weekend Notre Dame softball opens its season at the Green and Gold Classic in Charlotte, NC where they will play five games against Bucknell, Boston University and hosts Charlotte.
To close the 2021 season, the Irish fell 7-0 and 4-0 to regional No. 1 Kentucky in the NCAA Regional final. Notre Dame finished last year with a 33-15 overall record and went 20-10 in conference play, but fell in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament to Virginia Tech.
However, the Irish return seven of nine position players from that squad, along with two of their top pitchers in graduate student Alexis Holloway and senior Peyton Tidd. Holloway tossed 125.1 innings, striking out 111 batters. Tidd led the team with 131.1 innings and 15 wins. The Irish also add highly-touted freshman Shannon Becker to the staff.
“Our objective this year is to win the ACC, a regional title and make our way to Oklahoma City. It is the same objective we have had for a long time and we are confident and just really excited about our team going into the season,” Holloway said in an email to The Observer.
On the offensive side, graduate student outfielder Abby Sweet will again look to lead the Irish. Last year, Sweet led the ACC with an outstanding 0.445 batting average, adding five home runs and 20 stolen bases. Senior outfielder Emma Clarke will also look to build on a strong season. She batted 0.404 last year. Sophomore infielder Karina Gaskins also was outstanding in her first year with the Irish, leading the team with 10 home runs.
While the Irish will certainly be among the favorites in the conference this year, head coach Deanna Gumpf said avoiding injuries will be key to the team’s success.
“The biggest challenge for any team in any year is staying healthy,” she said in an email. “Every team is two to three injuries away from not having the season they’ve prepared for. Avoiding injuries and making sure we’re doing the right things to keep us at 100% is something we’ve worked on and will continue to work on this season.”
The Bison finished the season last year with a 12-18-1 record. The two teams were scheduled to meet last year, but the tournament was canceled. Boston University and Charlotte were both picked to finish first in their respective conferences.
“It’s going to be really beneficial for us to go out and get to play these early season tournaments,” Gumpf said. “Last year we had one weekend before we were in ACC play, so having the opportunities to play against opponents from other conferences will be important. The ACC is a gauntlet, so playing these other programs early will really tell us a lot about the team we have in our dugout,”
The Irish take on the Bison at 10 a.m. Friday and battle the Terriers following that matchup. On Saturday, the Irish and Terriers take the field at 10 a.m. once again before another contest with the Bison at 5:30 pm. Notre Dame closes the weekend with the host 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Live stats will be available online for all five games, and an audio broadcast will be available for the series finale with Charlotte.