Sweet seeks to continue success in final Irish season
Emily DeFazio | Friday, February 11, 2022
With their first game on the horizon, Notre Dame softball enters the 2022 season with a wealth of talent and high aspirations. After a strong showing during an uncertain 2021, the Irish seek to capitalize on their successes and utilize new members of the team to enhance their performance.
One of these key returning players is graduate student Abby Sweet, who was named the Observer’s Women’s Athlete of the Year at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. The outfielder walked away with All-ACC First Team honors and was named a USA Softball Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist, among other accolades. Sweet is taking advantage of her extra year of eligibility to have one more year in an Irish uniform, and her contribution will be vital to Notre Dame’s success this season.
“Our primary objective this year is to be a very consistent team throughout the entire season. On top of that, this team is hungry to win an ACC Championship and to advance to a Super Regional and the WCWS,” Sweet said in an email. “I’m most looking forward to spending my last year of college softball with my favorite people in the world. Having an extra year of eligibility is an absolute gift and I’m going to soak in every moment this year.”
Sweet has proven herself both in the field and in the batter’s box. She led the ACC in batting average last season (.455), which also caused her to have a high on-base percentage. She ranked second in the ACC and No. 19 in the country at .547 and scored, on average, .91 runs-per-game. As if that wasn’t enough, she was also the second-toughest ACC player to strike out. In fact, she matched the NCAA Division I single-game hit-by-pitch record with four HBP against NC State last season, contributing to her time on base.
“Abby Sweet is one of the top outfielders in the country. She led the ACC in batting average last season and she will be another key cog in our offensive machine this season,” head coach Deanna Gumpf said in an email. “Not to be overlooked, she’s a tremendous defensive outfielder. Her reads off the bat, instincts and routes to fly balls have saved countless runs for our pitchers. She’s also a great leader, which is why she’s been a team captain every year since 2020.”
She was also named ACC Player of the Week three times last season. The first came in late February after she posted 20 total bases, four doubles, two triples, a home run and nine runs over the course of two days at the Liberty Classic. Her batting average that weekend was .529, topping her average on the season. The second followed the weekend series against North Carolina, in which she further improved her batting average to .714. In that series, she also stole two bases. The final came against Valparaiso and NC State, where Sweet batted .600 that week. In one of the games, she was hit by a pitch with each at bat.
Sweet will seek to continue her success in her final season. As a dominant force on both sides of the ball, she will lead the squad as a team captain for her third year in a row. She has proven to be an influential player that can help spur the team in the fight against any opponent, and with her final season, she will greatly contribute to the Irish’s goal of making it to the ACC Championship and the WCWS. There is high potential that Sweet will be a popular name this season as fans wait to see what tricks she has up her sleeve to follow her dominant 2021 showing.