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ND Softball

Irish softball gears up for The Spring Games

| Friday, February 24, 2023

After a disappointing B1G/ACC Challenge last weekend, Notre Dame softball looks to regain some momentum at The Spring Games in Madeira Beach, Florida.

The Irish seemed to be off to a great start in the B1G/ACC Challenge after an assertive win over Ohio State last Friday. It took Notre Dame until the fourth inning to grab the lead, but once they got it, they piled on. A three-run home run streak in the sixth brought the Irish a 7-2 win and a strong start to the weekend. 

But Saturday, things got off track. The Irish were stymied by a Northwestern squad that had just given up 15 runs to Clemson. Notre Dame could only muster up three hits over the course of seven innings in a demoralizing 2-0 defeat. 

Problems compounded later in the day in a rematch with Ohio State. The Irish amassed an early 5-2 lead, but struggled to close the game out. Graduate student pitcher Payton Tidd maneuvered her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning as the Buckeyes cut the lead to one, and allowed another run in the seventh to send the game to extra innings. The Irish then failed to record a single hit in extra innings as a slowly-tiring Tidd was eventually tagged for a walk-off double in the ninth.

Perhaps drained from the unfortunate Saturday doubleheader, Notre Dame then suffered their worst defeat of the season Sunday in a second showdown with the Wildcats. Northwestern took a five-run lead in the third inning, and though a home run from graduate student infielder Lexi Orozco brought the Irish within two, that was as close as they would get to the Cats on the day. Northwestern piled on five more runs in the fifth and seventh frames, finishing the game as 10-3 victors.

Now in search of snapping a three-game losing streak, The Spring Games offer Notre Dame a prime opportunity to get back in form. The Irish will play five games in Madeira Beach, all five of which Notre Dame should be favored in. 

UT Martin, who the Irish open their weekend with Friday afternoon, is just 1-4 on the year. Florida International, who Notre Dame will play twice, holds a 0-14 record against Power Five opposition over the last three years. Dartmouth, who the Irish will end their weekend against, still hasn’t played a competitive game this year.

A combination of opponent rust and talent gap should make this weekend a prime opportunity for the Irish bats, which struggled in South Carolina, to find some form. With the team’s first ACC games of the year looming next week, the chance to develop some momentum with a strong weekend (as well as boost their record for an eventual NCAA Tournament bid down the line) looms large.

From the circle, Notre Dame will also likely get the chance to break in the squad’s two freshman pitchers, Micaela Kastor and Paige Cowley. Neither have gotten more than 12 innings of action yet this year. The Irish seem set to use a particularly short rotation this season, only listing four total specialized pitchers on their roster. It is vital that head coach Deanna Gumpf can trust all four of those arms in big moments. Tune-up games like the ones Notre Dame will likely get this weekend should play a big role in building that trust. 

Notre Dame softball will start their Spring Games slate Friday afternoon against UT Martin. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcasted on FloSoftball.com.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a junior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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