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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Observer

Irish gear up for Strikeout Cancer Weekend and three game series against Georgia Tech  

The Notre Dame women’s softball team begins a three-game ACC series at home this weekend against Georgia Tech, kicking off on Friday at Melissa Cook Stadium. The Irish are hoping to continue their momentum coming off a 10-0 shutout win against Loyola Chicago Tuesday and a 4-1 win over Central Michigan Wednesday. Head coach Deanna Gumpf described the team's high spirits as they head into the weekend with 25 wins under their belt. 

“The confidence level is very high because of how we’ve been playing the last few weeks, and I think the girls are in a really good place,” Gumpf said. “It always starts on the mound, and when your pitchers give you a chance to win ball games that’s really all you need at this point. Pitchers lead the way by minimizing runs and minimizing hits and then the rest of the team can do their job.”

The Irish certainly have performed well on the mound, with graduate student Alexis Holloway throwing her second-career solo no-hitter against Loyola Chicago Tuesday. Freshman Shannon Becker has also been a force for the team, showing her potential by earning seven wins on the mound this season. Another freshman, catcher Rachel Allen, made a name for herself this week with the first home run of her career, sending a two-run blast over the bleachers in left field. With plays like this and more, the freshmen are “just getting started,” Gumpf said. 

“The freshmen have done a great job,” Gumpf said. “Rachel displayed yesterday what she is capable of doing up at the plate, and I think the sky's the limit for her future. Jane Kronenberger found her way into the starting lineup because of her offense — it’s just insane how she’s hitting the ball right now. Shannon started earlier producing and giving us wins on the mound. I feel like the freshman class is just getting started. They have a huge future ahead of them.”

Georgia Tech’s strong pitching and overall skill will be a test for the Irish this weekend. The Irish will have to play some consistent softball in all aspects of the game if they hope to claim the victory against the Yellowjackets.

“I think Georgia Tech is one of the most powerful teams in our conference, so they’re going to put the bat on the ball and they are going to find a way,” Gumpf said. “We have to minimize big hits and keep them hitting the ball the way that our pitchers want them to – we have to induce a lot of popups and ground balls. They’re a very good team, but we are up for the challenge. We are going to give them some great softball this weekend.”

Though these matchups against Georgia Tech are important for the Irish on the field, the team also has a huge weekend off the field in terms of fundraising. It is Strikeout Cancer weekend, the biggest weekend of Notre Dame Softball’s season. The weekend focuses on raising funds for children in the area fighting cancer. The team has had some serious success with the fundraiser in the past, and Gumpf said she is excited to bring it back this year. 

“In the past, we’ve raised over $400,000 over the past ten years,” Gumpf said. “We are very committed to helping the families and the children just in this region that are fighting cancer. Our goal is to raise $40,000 this weekend, and all of it is committed to raising these funds for these children.”

Donations can be made online. In addition to online donations, there are several fun activities, such as a trivia night and home run derby, that the team has planned for fans this weekend to raise funds. 

“Each player has a mobile website where you can donate. There is also a home run derby Sunday after our game for all students,” Gumpf said. “$5 for 5 swings and you can come out and hit. It’s super fun and they play music. We are also doing trivia night on Saturday over at the [South Bend] Cubs hitting facility and it’s just an awesome weekend.”

The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday. Play continues Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon and will be broadcasted on ACC Network Extra.