Irish softball selected for Evanston regional
Liam Coolican | Monday, May 16, 2022
Notre Dame softball found out their postseason destination Sunday night, as they were selected as the No. 2 seed in the Evanston regional. The 18th-ranked Irish will face host Northwestern, McNeese, and Oakland throughout the weekend.
Play begins Friday as the Irish take on McNeese to begin the double-elimination tournament. Should the Irish advance, they will move on to a best-of-three super regional to determine who advances to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Northwestern, ranked 9th in the country with a 40-10 regular-season record, will certainly be a formidable opponent. The Wildcats finished with an impressive 19-4 record in conference play but dropped a nail-biter to Michigan in the Big Ten championship game. Notre Dame did beat Northwestern 3-2 in a midweek non-conference battle earlier this season.
McNeese was also dominant in conference play, finishing with a 15-3 conference record to secure the Southland conference’s automatic bid. Oakland also secured an automatic bid, after a 26-15 regular season capped off by a Horizon League championship.
How Notre Dame stacks up
The Irish will enter the regional with significant momentum as well. They fell in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament to eventual champion Clemson but had previously won eight straight contests. They haven’t lost to a team other than Clemson since April 1.
The Irish will rely heavily on their pitching to shut down their opponents‘ offenses in the regional. Freshman Shannon Becker, senior Payton Tidd, and graduate student Alexis Holloway have all been excellent this season, posting sub-3.00 ERAs. Becker’s 1.63 mark in conference play was good for third-best in the ACC.
On the offensive side, Karina Gaskins has broken out this season, posting a .434 batting average, which leads the conference, and 13 home runs. She earned ACC Player of the Year.
For all of their success under Deanna Gumpf, Notre Dame has never been to a Super Regional. They have lost in the regional stage every year since 1999. They’ll be looking to change that this year but a challenging group of opponents stands in their way.