Irish prepare to extend win streak
By MATT LOZAR
After Liz Hartmann's seventh-inning three-run homer put Notre Dame ahead 3-1 over No. 4 Nebraska, the Irish knew their opportunity for a season-defining win was at hand.
A record of 1-7 in previous games against top 25 opponents presented the Irish with numerous chances to pull a major upset. Even through losing, Notre Dame gained the experience necessary to hang on in the bottom of the seventh, at a ranked opponent's home field.
"The girls knew what to expect since it was nothing new to them," head coach Deanna Gumpf said. "They didn't think they shouldn't win that game. We have played teams better than Nebraska already this season."
Defeating Nebraska 3-2 on Tuesday night gave Notre Dame the experience of defeating a nationally ranked team.
This afternoon, the Irish face the task of maintaining that high level of play against IUPU-Fort Wayne.
"Our biggest challenge is to play at our level," Gumpf said. "We have to not play at their level, which is something we have done this year."
The Crusaders are 5-26 on the season and have lost five of their last six.
"Our team has already experienced a letdown and they know what it feels like," Gumpf said.
Notre Dame's offense has been productive in helping the Irish win 19 of their past 20 games.
Throughout those games, the offense is averaging almost 7.5 runs per contest.
"The players have been concentrating solely on making things happen," Gumpf said. "The last months, our hitters have been giving us support."
Catcher Jarrah Myers leads the potent Notre Dame offense.
She currently has a team-leading .380 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, 37 runs scored, nine home runs and 32 RBIs.
Six Irish regulars have batting averages above .300
Hartmann's game-winning three run homer against Nebraska gave Notre Dame its 10th different player with a home run this season, a school record.
While the Irish offense is giving the pitching staff run support, the pitchers haven't needed it.
In the last 20 games, Steffany Stenglein, Carrie Wisen, and Jessica Sharron have allowed less than two runs per game.
During the stretch, Stenglein and Wisen combined on a no-hitter and Stenglein (17-9) pitched a perfect game.
Wisen (11-4) is scheduled to get the start today for the Irish.
The Irish could see Mastodons' pitcher Mindy Pomeroy today. In 118 innings of work, Pomeroy has given up 70 runs, but only 39 are earned.
The sophomore is 2-18 with a 2.97 ERA.
Scoring runs has been a big problem for the Mastodons. In 31 games, the offense has only produced 37 runs, hit two home runs, and has a team batting average of .193. Outfielder Christina Funk leads the Mastodons with a .299 batting average. Shortstop Angela Grabczak has a team-high nine RBI.
This afternoon's single game is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. at Ivy Field.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002