Notre Dame softball gears up for weekend series against Pittsburgh
J.J. Post | Friday, March 31, 2023
Notre Dame softball will return to ACC play this weekend when they square off against Pittsburgh in South Bend.
The Irish are looking to find momentum following a dominant 15-0 showing against IUPUI Tuesday. The offensive explosion was much needed for a Notre Dame squad that struggled over the weekend against Syracuse.
After a series-opening win, the Irish offense fell flat Sunday in their doubleheader with the Orange. After posting just 3 runs in game one, Notre Dame’s offense couldn’t score in game two. Thankfully, the efforts of Payton Tidd on the mound held the game in a 0-0 stalemate until the arrival of lightning forced the game’s conclusion. The scoreless draw marked Irish softball’s first tie since 2008 and first-ever tie in ACC play.
Against the Panthers, Notre Dame will face another team struggling to find its footing in conference play. Syracuse was last place in the ACC until their win (and draw) with the Irish last weekend — that honor now belongs to Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame’s pitching staff, fresh off a midweek combined shutout, will look to dominate a struggling Panther offense. Pittsburgh has eclipsed five runs in a game just twice over their last month of action.
Sunday’s shutout tie against Syracuse marked just the first time all season that the Irish held a Power Five opponent scorelessly. With Tuesday’s blanking of IUPUI in hand, Friday could offer Notre Dame a chance to piece together a streak of shutouts.
Offering hope for the potential of such a streak is the likely starting pitcher for the Irish on Friday. Veteran ace Payton Tidd has been head coach Deanna Gumpf’s go-to in the circle for series openers all season. The graduate student hurler has now started three of Notre Dame’s five shutouts this season.
A fifth-year starter for the Irish, Tidd has seen it all in ACC play over the course of her career. Her veteran presence on the mound has been massive for a young Irish rotation. Notre Dame uses two other pitchers in ACC play — sophomore Shannon Becker and freshman Micaela Kastor. Tidd’s veteran know-how and experience has made her the leader in the Irish stable.
Notre Dame’s greatest challenge in the Panther offense will likely be infielder duo Yvonne Whaley and Sarah Seamans. The graduate student pairing are first and second for Pittsburgh in just about every hitting metric, including batting average, on-base percent and slugging percent. The duo plated every Panther run in the team’s last outing against Virginia.
With inclement South Bend weather looming, it remains unclear what the series’ schedule will look like. As it stands, however, first pitch at Melissa Cook on Friday is set for 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.